Skip to main content

Review: Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle, by Manda Scott


Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle is the fantastic story of Boudica, warrior queen of the Iceni tribe (or Eceni, according to Manda Scott). This novel is the first in a series, and covers Boudica’s (called Breaca) early years, from the age of eight to 21, when she faced the Romans in battle. Other major characters in the novel are Ban, who later goes to the Continent and experiences a sort of rebirth as a Roman citizen; and Caradoc (Caractatus), leader of the Catuvellauni, with whom Breaca has a tentative alliance.

You could say this book is divided into two parts, with the first half devoted to the struggle between the Iceni and Catuvellauni, and the second to the struggle between the native Britons and the Romans.

It must be very tough to write a novel about a people whose culture was oral and not written. The Romans wrote about Boudica, but their opinions were hardly objective. Not much is known about Boudica, and even less is known about her childhood, so a lot of this novel is, as the author admits in her note at the end, fictional. But Scott does a fantastic job with what little information she does have, and her characters seem real and believable. Her information about the Romans is a little more complete, because they, of course, left written records. The historian Dio Cassius described Breaca as having flaming red hair, and boy, does Manda Scott run with that.

I took a real chance when buying this book, because I’d never even heard of the author before and didn’t know if I’d like a 700-page novel about Roman Britain. And, at first I was a little wary of the “dreaming” concept that drives the book. But I was pleasantly surprised. The dreaming isn’t over-the-top, and the animal imagery is simply amazing. The story takes a little while to gather momentum, but reading through the first 50 pages or so yields a really rich, rewarding reading experience. This is a very strong start to what promises to be a very engaging series.

Comments

Daphne said…
I just finished the third book in the series (Dreaming the Hound) and thought it was very good. The "dreaming" aspects and animal imagery throughout the series is a little much sometimes, but by the third book, I thought it fit in with the story better. Glad that you liked it!
Gwendolyn B. said…
I've had my eye on this book. Even though I don't believe Boudica could have possibly understood the might and power of the Romans at that time, I still think she was extraordinarily brave to take them on. I'm glad to know you enjoyed this book.
This series is a favorite of mine, I loved all of the books! Glad you enjoyed it!

Carey
Marg said…
I really enjoyed this series when I read it a few years ago.

I also enjoyed Jules Watson's Dalriada trilogy which had a similar feel.
Lana said…
I just finished Dreaming the Eagle, and I enjoyed both seeing aspects of Celtic life before the invasion and the battle scenes. I also didn't think the dreaming aspects were over the top - though I teetered on the brink when it came to the section on Mona.

I've linked to your very enjoyable review here.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…