Amanda Scott's sweeping novel takes place in Tribal Britain in the
1st century A.D. She builds a believable story from the fragments
of recorded Roman history that describe the pre-Roman Iron Age.
Modern archaeology provides scraps for her imaginative fiction.
Boudica lived, but her story is a rich fabrication that makes one
yearn for more in subsequent books.
Young Breaca nic Graine witnesses her mother's murder by a renegade
Coritani warrior. The girl grabs her father's boar spear and kills
the intruder, earning her first red kill-feather, the mark of an
Eceni warrior. Breaca dreams, however, of holding the title of
Dreamer, a coveted tribal position. A Dreamer possesses the gift of
witnessing future events and interpreting visions of life and
death. Dreamers are accompanied and protected by Warriors.
Additional major players in Scott's drama are Ban, Breaca's
half-brother; Caradoc, third son of Cunobelin, the Sun-Hound;
Corvus, a shipwrecked soldier of Rome; and Airmid, Breaca's Eceni
Dreamer and friend. Throughout the tale, Ban's life and aspirations
are second only to Breaca's. Ban, at eight years, experiences his
first dream and is the potential greatest Dreamer of the Eceni. His
path leads to distant lands, first as slave and then as Roman
citizen, with his eventual return to Eceni territory.
Breaca accepts her place as Warrior and heir apparent to succeed
her mother as tribal leader. She lives a bittersweet existence,
forsaking womanly love for the training and ritual behavior
befitting a warrior princess. DREAMING THE EAGLE is a story of
peaceful agrarian peoples who defend their homes when provoked by
Love and dependence upon animals is a featured keynote of the
novel. Hounds are hunters, companions and needed warriors when
tribes are attacked. Horses are used for war as well. Ban devotes
himself to the care of an angry multicolored mare he called the
Crow. She performs for him when his life is at risk, killing those
who attack with the thrust of her mighty hooves.
The author takes license with history in her telling of the Roman
invasion of Britain by the legions of Caligula. He is shown to be
licentious, evil, crafty, self-serving and vain. From other
historians, we can agree with Scott's assessments of Caligula. He,
among other self-serving men, is the hated enemy.
Scott catalogues her story with lists of names, their
pronunciations, tribal groups and their locations, maps of probable
tribal lands and Roman invasion routes. Her descriptions of
battles, their outcomes, personal struggles and resolutions are
developed with poetic beauty. DREAMING THE EAGLE is an exciting
story chronicled by a masterful storyteller. If Iron Age existence
was an iota of the reality Scott pictures, we can identify with and
cheer for her people.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 21, 2011