“beautifully depicted”, “vividly evocative of a period rarely examined”
Helena Gumley Mason in “The Lady”
“This may be one of the most ambitious and extraordinary novels you will find this year”
David Guest in “Living Magazines”
This is a story about landscapes and the people who live in them; the way they are formed by weather, hardship and beauty. It is about feelings, friendship and goodness and the way that societies brush those things away.
Tribes jostle for land and power that they have a deity given right to. Priests and Druids control valuable trade as well as religious rites and access to the Deities. A balance of power broadly exists between the roles of Druids and those of clan leaders.
The Iceni tribe seek to control both religious rite and their own lands to defend against a perceived threat from successful clans with more prosperous ground and country. They ally with tribes from Man and Wales to try to control the Priest class.
A group of young people are pledged by their families and tribes to a process, The Learn, that will prepare them to become priests and perhaps Druids. The Learn promotes purpose, effort, endurance and learning. Some have been sent by their tribe simply to gather what knowledge they can for the tribe. This quickly leads to conflict between oath and duty as learner priests and those to their family tribes.
The main protagonists are Nial of the Hiberni, Owayne an Ordovician beach scavenger, raised to “The Learn” and Gwen, daughter of a Druid and herself brought up in the Sacred Groves of Anglesey. These characters bond, fight and fall in love, while gathering knowledge and new technology.
A climax occurs when Huw, a high born Iceni youth, is forced to choose between between loyalties, as the Iceni use force to achieve their ends.