Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Perfect 10:

THE RAVEN QUEEN - Jules Watson
A Perfect 10
ISBN: 978-0-553-38465-9
March 2011
Historical Fiction Fantasy

Connacht (Celtic Ireland) during and after the Reign of Eochaid

Maeve of Connacht has returned home, fleeing her husband, King Conor of Ulaid, whom her father made an alliance with in exchange for her hand. Now her father is dying, and Maeve doesn’t want her unstable brother, Innel, to be chosen king. Knowing that making her queen would not sit well, Maeve is determined to find a way to convince her people that she would be their best leader. After being her father’s pawn in several marriages, Maeve does not want another man forcing her to do anything. But how will she convince the warriors of Connacht that she is their logical ruler?

Despite the chances that she will anger the magical sidhe, Maeve steals her father’s sword from his body at an enchanted lakeside. There she meets the blind druid, Ruan, who seems to have a connection to the sidhe. Maeve keeps returning to the lake, drawn to Ruan and his mysterious ways, certain that somehow the sidhe will somehow be able to help her through Ruan. When she returns to Connacht, she challenges her brother to a one-on-one duel, winner take all. But even if she wins, will her people follow her?

THE RAVEN QUEEN is a fascinating story based on the legend of Queen Maeve of Ireland. Gathering other kingdoms, Maeve prepares for war with Conor against Ruan’s pleas for peace. She is driven by her passions and fears, determined to show the men around her that she is equal in her bravery and honor. But always in the background is the woman that Maeve can’t deny. Her fears are based on her treatment as a young girl and as a woman by men who controlled her life. Never again will a man deny her the freedom to choose her own future. Maeve controls her own destiny and must deny herself the love she so craves and needs in order to fulfill her promise to her people.

THE RAVEN QUEEN is a fine, beautifully crafted rendition of a very exciting and magical legend. While based on a Celtic fable, Ms. Watson manages to show Maeve as a marvelous leader who just happens to be a woman. Maeve is strong, brave, and fearless, but doesn’t lose the side of her that makes her all too human, able to love and to make difficult choices that could damage that love. All of the characters are richly presented, the historical research impeccable, and the writing is brilliant. Readers will find themselves totally immersed in the ancient Celtic world and will be cheering for Maeve. THE RAVEN QUEEN is a Perfect 10 all the way.

Jani Brooks

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