This is an amazing novel. It is not, as the cover claims, so much about Boudicca -- though certainly plays her part in blazing fire and glory -- as it is another historical Bristish chieftan named Caradoc, who united many of the Celtic tribes of England against Rome and fought determinedly until his eventual defeat in A.D. 50. (For those of you who do not know the story -- it's not a common one -- I won't reveal the rest.) It is also about some of the (also historical) Romans who encountered the power of Britannia, though the ultimate sympathy (wrong word, but close) lies with the British tribes. Ms. Gedge sticks to history as far as she can in her writing, and fleshes it out with incredible skill. The book is 827 pages long and I devoured it.
One of the things that makes this book so good is its chosen subject -- obscure figures who have become the stuff of legend; a mysterious and ancient fight for freedom that yet finds a home in our modern souls. Another is its realism -- brutal violence and desperate betrayal alongside deepest love
and noble ideals held, compromised, lifted up. This story does not shrink from death and wrenching sorrow, nor does it invent a hundred miraculous escapes, nor become so caught up in mysticism that it leaves no room for the ordinary man and woman. It is a tale of real people, intermingling and forging lives in less than ideal circumstances, yet time and again forced onto two opposing sides of an issue that has many more facets than two. It is a terribly sad story, but also a triumphant one, and one to stir your blood as others cannot. It deserves many more than five stars. Print it again!