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The Blackthorn Queen (Eagles and Crows #1) by Melanie Karsak: A Book Review

Blackthorn Queen (Eagles and Crows #1)
Author: Melanie Karsak
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Clockpunk Press
Release Date: July 25, 2023
Pages: 338
Source: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: From ancient henges to windswept mountains, dive into a world where pagan gods rule, powerful priestesses weave magic, and fierce Celtic tribes battle for dominance.

     Britain, AD 38, Princess Cartimandua—Carti—of the Brigantes tribe faces an uncertain future when her father’s sudden death ignites turmoil. Suspicion falls on the Crow People of the Votadini tribe, straining the fragile peace between the factions.

     But they’re not the only ones bearing a grudge.

     A tangled web of political games soon unfolds. When enigmatic Prince Cormag of the Votadini shows the princess unwanted attention, the Brigantes’ alliance with the Carvetti is shaken. Cartimandua’s dream of marrying gallant Prince Venutiux of the Carvetti is put at risk. Soon, Carti finds herself at the center of a whirlwind of divided loyalties.

     Yet amidst the misty forests and the blackthorn trees, the Cailleach, the ancient dark goddess of the Brigantes people, whispers that all is not as it seems. With the fate of her tribe at stake, Carti must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of politics, duty, magic, and love.

     From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak, The Blackthorn Queen transports readers to northern Celtic Britain on the precipice of the second Roman invasion, introducing us to Cartimandua, princess of the powerful Brigantes tribe.

     My Review: The king of the Brigantes has been murdered. It is suspected that he had been murdered by the Votadini tribe. This murder may lead to a war between the Brigantes and the Votadini tribe. When Princess Cartimandua of Brigantes catches the eye of Prince Cormag of the Votadini tribe, Princess Cartimandua is confused. She has always dreamed of marrying Prince Venutiux of the Carveti tribe. However, she finds herself intrigued by Prince Cormag. Was Prince Cormag involved in her father’s death? Which prince will capture her heart?

     Queen Cartimandua was a contemporary of Queen Boudica. Between the two queens, many scholars believe that Queen Cartimandua was a more successful ruler. However, Queen Cartimandua is not as famous as Queen Boudica. In Mrs. Karsak’s Celtic Rebels series, which focuses on Queen Boudica, is often mentioned. Therefore, I was glad that Queen Cartimandua has her own story. Because there is very little information on Queen Cartimandua, Mrs. Karsak gives her an interesting back story.

     I really like Mrs. Karsak’s version of Queen Cartimandua. Unlike Boudica who is a strong fighter, Cartimandua mostly relies on her wit. I like how she cares about her family. She is also a very good friend. I like how she continues to pursue justice, and often struggles with making difficult decisions. She is trying to figure out which prince is right for her. Therefore, Cartimandua was a strong and relatable teenager. I find Mrs. Karsak’s portrayal of Cartimandua is very realistic.

     Overall, this was a beautiful coming of age story of Cartimandua. All of the characters were very complex and realistic. I like how Mrs. Karsak made ancient Scotland come alive. I love how Mrs. Karsak interwove myths and magic into the story. The Blackthorn Queen was a mesmerizing and enthralling tale that took my breath away! I was so immersed in the story that I flew through the pages and finished it in one sitting! The Blackthorn Queen is filled with pageantry, romance, and palace intrigue! It is truly a feast for historical fiction lovers, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Cartimandua’s tale! I recommend this novel for fans of Esther M. Friesner, Barbara Erskine, and Signe Pike!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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