The Oath by A.M. Linden
Synopsis: In the wake of a betrayal that threatens an end to their way of life, the last members of a secluded pagan cult send the youngest of their remaining priests in search of Annwr, their chief priestess's sister, who was abducted by a Saxon war band fifteen years ago. With only a rudimentary grasp of English and the ambiguous guidance of an oracle's prophecy, Caelym manages to find Annwr living in a hut on the grounds of a Christian convent.
Annwr has spent her years of captivity caring for the timid Aleswina, an orphaned Saxon princess who was consigned to the cloistered convent by her cousin, King Gilberth, after he assumed her father's throne. Just as Caelym and Annwr are about leave together, Aleswina learns that Gilberth, a tyrant known for his cruelty and vicious temper, means to take her out of the convent and marry her. Terrified, she flees with the two Druids--beginning a heart-pounding adventure that unfolds in ways none of them could have anticipated.
My Review: The Oath is the first installment of a five novel series set during Britain’s Dark Ages. It tells the story of two druids and a Christian. Annwr is the chief priestess’s sister who was abducted by Saxons fifteen years ago. Caelym is a priest who is sent to rescue her. Before they leave to go back to their kingdom, they are joined by a Saxon princess named Aleswina, who is desperate to escape a horrible suitor. The three of them embark on a dangerous mission that none of them could have anticipated.
The three main characters are Annwr, Caelym, and Aleswina. Each of these characters are very complex and are fully fleshed out characters. Annwr and Caelym have very tragic backgrounds. My heart ached for them through their pain. I thought that Annwr was a very capable and strong woman. She was very wise. I thought of her as a survivor who endured a lot of pain. Caelym had a lot of grief. Two of his sons were taken by the Saxsons and their whereabouts are unknown. Therefore, Caelym has a strong determination to find his missing sons. He was the most sympathetic of the three characters, and I kept hoping he would find them. Aleswina is probably the most fascinating and developed character in the novel. She starts off as a damsel in distress, but later grows stronger over time. Thus, all three of the main characters were very compelling.
Overall, this novel is about loss, prejudices, and religion. All the other supporting characters were developed well. The story does start slowly but later on it picks up speed. I was disappointed with the ending because there were some loose ends. Still, this was mostly a journey story that had a touch of intrigue and mystery. I also thought Ms. Linden did an excellent job in depicting Britain's turbulent Dark Ages. I like how she discussed the religious conflict of the era. Thus, this novel was meticulously researched and the writing was lush and evocative. The Oath is an exceptional start to a promising series! I recommend this novel for fans of Signe Pike, Melanie Karsak, and Nicole Evelina!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Praise“Linden’s well-researched tale eloquently brings to life a lesser-known period of transition in Britain...The author has created a strong foundation for her series with well-developed characters whom readers can embrace...[a] layered, gripping historical fiction...”
“Linden uses a fairy tale-like style almost as though this story has been passed down orally over the centuries. Though the kingdoms are fictional, Linden's tale draws on meticulous historical research, especially in her dramatization of the Christian persecution of the druids.”
"The story rolls along at a lively pace, rich with details of the times and a wide cast of characters....Those interested in goddess-worshipping religions will be drawn to the novel. Any reader curious about 8th-century Britain will enjoy Linden’s innovative focus on the little-known Druids as well as early medieval Christians. Her plotting, shifting points of view of the three engaging protagonists, and evocative writing style make The Oath a pleasure to read. Highly recommended!"
--Historical Novels Review
"The Oath urges readers along on a richly textured quest among the Saxons and Celts of 8th-century Britain. Young and rather humorously naïve Druid priest-healer Caelym swears to 'rescue' a damsel in distress who turns out to be neither a young damsel nor in distress. With a feminist slant, this engaging tale brings the conflict between Druids and early Christians to vivid life through sympathetic and well-rounded characters. I particularly enjoyed the ironic voice of the aging midwife Annwr. Brava!"
--Sara Stamey, author of The Ariadne Connection
"Thrilling historical fiction with heart and soul."
--Tim Pears, author of The West Country trilogy
"The Oath will appeal to a wide-ranging readership, reflecting Linden's rich imagination and gift for weaving tales within tales evoking the romance of medieval Britain. Vibrant, determined, and relatable characters with disparate ethnic and religious identities discover their own strengths, and each other's, as the intricate and engaging plot unfolds."
--Anne Marie Tietjen, PhD, clinical psychologist and instructor at Western Washington University
"Linden's knowledge and passion for history is soaked into every word of The Oath, combined with an obvious skill at storytelling. Linden succeeds at every level, but the world building is truly spectacular. Historical fantasy is hard to do well, but Linden makes it look easy. What could be dry details are presented so effectively that the world is elevated to almost being a character of its own. And in a cast of characters as well drawn as these, that's saying something. I can't wait to see what else this skilled author comes up with!"
--Bishop O'Connell, author of the American Faerie Tale series
The Valley by A.M. Linden
Llwddawanden is a hidden sanctuary where remnants of a once-powerful pagan cult carry on their ancient ritual practices, supported by a small but faithful following of servants, craftsmen, and laborers.
Cut off from the outside world by both geography and conviction, the Druids of Llwddawanden continue to venerate the Great Mother Goddess and to view themselves as the first-born and favorite of Her mortal children. While the belief that the most important of all divine beings gave birth to their ancestors and that Her spirit inhabits the body of their highest priestess is a tenuous conclusion in view of their reduced lot in life, the Druids of Llwddawanden believe it and are, for the most part, committed to carrying on the traditions handed down to them by their forbears.
Herrwn, the shrine’s chief priest and master bard, has the responsibility of overseeing the education of Caelym, the orphaned son of the cult’s previous chief priestess, as well as keeping the peace within the upper ranks of their order—two tasks that grow more difficult as the rivalry over which of the three highest priests will claim Caelym as his disciple grows, and as mounting conflicts between the current chief priestess and her only living daughter threaten to rend the fabric of a society that has endured for more than a millennium.
Advance Praise“A. M. Linden brings her imagined druid community to life with a skillful combination of research and informed guesswork. The Valley provides an intriguing glimpse into an 8th century Britain that might have been.”
--Juliet Marillier, author of the Sevenwaters and Warrior Bards series
“With the attention to detail, explanation of ancient rituals, and the mythology within the clan's legends, this novel builds a community, exploring a people about which little is actually known. It's an extraordinary portrayal, breathing life into a long-dead civilization…Highly recommended!"
--Chanticleer Book Reviews
About the AuthorAnn Margaret Linden was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up on the East Coast before returning to the Pacific Northwest as a young adult. She has undergraduate degrees in anthropology and in nursing and a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner. After working in a variety of acute care and community health settings, she took a position in a program for children with special health care needs where her responsibilities included writing clinical reports, parent educational materials, provider newsletters, grant submissions and other program related materials. The Oath is the first installment of The Druid Chronicles, a five-volume series that began as a somewhat whimsical decision to write something for fun and ended up becoming a lengthy journey that involved Linden taking adult education creative writing courses, researching early British history, and traveling to England, Scotland, and Wales. Retired from nursing, she lives with her husband, dogs, and cat in Bellingham, WA.
Blog Tour ScheduleTuesday, June 28
Review at Jessica Belmont
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Review at Gwendalyn's Books
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Friday, July 1
Review at The Page Ladies
Monday, July 4
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (The Oath)
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Review at Potpourri of Opinions
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Thursday, July 14
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Friday, July 15
Review at History from a Woman’s Perspective (The Oath)
Monday, July 18
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (The Valley)
Wednesday, July 20
Review at The Book Junkie Reads
Friday, July 22
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
GiveawayTwo readers will win copies of The Oath & The Valley by A.M. Linden!
The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on July 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.