Updated: Jan 20
Escapism is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book.
You don't need to be familiar with the period to enjoy it, the plot is not overly complex, it doesn't keep you over thinking or flicking back through the pages to try and remind yourself what happened previously.
It's just one bloody good romp from the get go.
Bellicus is a Druid, and also a fine warrior. He is young and confident, tall and broad, well versed in the sword and not at all afraid to use it. He is also familiar with the country, has two dogs that can both hunt and fight, so when his king's daughter is kidnapped by Saxons, who else will the king rely on to go and fetch her back?
So that is the basis for our story, with guest appearances from the said kidnapped daughter, a couple of Saxon raiders and their chief, a retired Roman optio and a couple of others along the way.
And it is a damn good read. As I said above the plot is easy to follow, the descriptions of dark age Britain explained so well that there really is no conscious thought required, you just enjoy getting to know Bellicus and his hounds as they make their way ever south.
There are, of course, a few bumps along the way, wouldn't be much of a story otherwise, and each bump brings with it a fantastically written fight scene in which our antagonist proves his mettle in battle.
Merlin and Arthur even make a guest appearance, which surprised me actually, as it seemed to be completely out of the blue.
The finale is both tense and well written, and really gives a feel for the magic of the old gods.
I think there is much more to come from Bellicus, his character not quite fully fleshed out yet, it felt as if Steven is holding just a little back to add another layer to the rest of the books in the series, which is no bad thing.
All in all highly recommended, and I look forward to the next one.