Monday, 23 December 2013


AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN now has 3 x 5* reviews. 2 are on Amazon UK and 1 on 
5.0 out of 5 stars Celts vs. Romans December 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Nancy Jardine's Celtic series has me in its thrall! "After Whorl: Bran Reborn" is the second in this series, which depicts the little reported efforts of the Celts to rid the country of the Roman invaders. Since they face a very organized and well-equipped foe, they rely on their considerable Celtic wits to undermine the subjugation of the hated invaders. The characters are so well formed, I find myself worrying about their welfare, worrying about their romantic lives, and so on.

I admire the descriptions of battle scenes - male authors tend to be a bit too technical with battle scenes for me. Nancy Jardine describes battles clearly, but also with a look at the emotions of the warrior.

I cannot wait for the third novel of the series, due to launch in March, 2014. Hope the author considers expanding the series even further. A wonderful read, I highly recommend "After Whorl: Bran Reborn!" 
Amazon UK

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
After Whorl - Bran reborn is a sequel to Nancy Jardine's earlier novel, The Beltane Choice. It follows Brennus, a minor character in the first book, maimed and almost killed in battle with the Romans, as he is first nursed back to health by aged healer Meaghan, then struggles to adapt to his disabilities and find a new role for himself. His warrior past behind him, he becomes Bran, a trader, a messenger ... and a spy. Bran's travails, and the tensions in his relationship with his young adoptive sister Ineda are sensitively and intelligently handled, as are the ambiguities, compromises and uncertainties of a land neither wholly conquered nor wholly free. As in The Beltane Choice, the author brings the culture and society of celtic Britain vividly to life - and in this book there is also an intriguing contrast with the ordered, militaristic lifestyle of the occupying Romans. An engaging tale, with fascinating insights into Celtic and Roman Britain. 
Format:Kindle Edition
The second part of a trilogy is perhaps the most difficult to write. The author has already introduced some of the key themes in the first part (prominent among the themes of The Beltane Choice was the conflict between the Brigantes tribe of northern England and the advancing legions of Rome in 71 AD), and almost certainly has in mind a final resolution in the third part, but does not want to give the game away in the second.

In After Whorl, Bran Reborn, we are still in 71 AD, and conflict between Romans and Britons remains at the heart of the story, but Nancy Jardine meets the challenge of the second volume by flipping viewpoints. Nara and Lorcan, the lovers at the centre of The Beltane Choice, appear only as minor characters in the current volume. Instead the focus is on Lorcan's brother, Brennus. His story, here, is very much a meditation on the theme of defeat, and on the possibility of resilience in the face of it. The "Whorl" of the title is a battle (a fictional one, since the military campaigns of the Roman Governor Cerialis against the Brigantes are documented only in the vaguest sense), a battle which the Britons have lost, and in which Brennus has been badly maimed. His people's freedom is forfeit, and his own world falls apart when a stranger arrives with unwelcome news. Potentially the star attraction as a captive in a Roman Triumph, he adopts a new and humbler identity, Bran. His whole life has been lived as a warrior, but now he is totally dependent on the elderly healer, Meaghan, who tends his wounds. She, in turn, becomes dependent on him, but he is ill prepared for this role. The book charts his struggle to reassert his identity, and to find a new role in life, assisted by Meaghan's teenage daughter, Ineda.

Nancy Jardine has done a superb job in creating such a vivid and believable story against a background in which neither history nor archaeology provides much solid material to work with. As in The Beltane Choice, historical figures such as Governor Cerialis and the Brigantian king, Venutius, remain in the shadows, the light shining instead on the hopes and fears of ordinary people; the work itself, a triumph of narrative clarity over historical obscurity.

My thanks to the above reviewers. 


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