APOLLO’S RAVEN (Curse of Clansmen and Kings, Book 1): Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour
AWARD-WINNING APOLLO’S RAVEN sweeps you into an epic Celtic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. In 24 AD British kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him. The king’s daughter, Catrin, learns to her dismay that she is the Raven and her banished half-brother is Blood Wolf. Trained as a warrior, Catrin must find a way to break the curse, but she is torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy, Marcellus, and loyalty to her people. She must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that threatens the fates of everyone in her kingdom.
Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse. Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love for Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren and save her kingdom?
Sex, Violence, Sacrificial Rituals
Chapter 8 Rhan’s Curse
24 AD, Southeast Britannia
Catrin glanced at the entryway, but Marcellus had already left. She nervously followed her father into a musky chamber sparsely furnished with a candlelit table and two chairs. Anticipating hard questions, Catrin wilted under her father’s burning glare as she sat across from him.
“What were you thinking to challenge my authority?” he demanded.
Lowering her eyes, Catrin feigned she did not understand what was causing his ire. “What authority?”
Amren slapped the tabletop. “You know full well what I mean!” Catrin flinched and stared at her father’s fingers drumming the tabletop.
“Not only did I have to deal with the Romans and their unreasonable demands,” he said with a graveled voice, “but I had to prevent a revolt from my own guards. And here is my rebellious daughter bent on saving a Roman with eyes all over her!”
Gripping the table’s edge, Catrin struggled to balance herself on the wobbly chair. “I only did this to stop a conflict I foresaw in omens.”
“I … I …” Catrin looked down, suddenly hesitant to answer. She could feel his eyes on her, demanding the truth.
“I’m baﬄed by your behavior,” Amren finally said. “For the first time in your life, you have overstepped my authority. Our kingdom is at stake. We need to present a united front. What did you see in your omens to make you do such an act?”
Catrin took a deep, calming breath before responding. “The first omen I saw was the blood moon last night. This is a sign of great changes to the kingdom as a result of a bloody battle. This morning my raven shot across the rising sun, warning me that danger approached from the sea. When I saw Roman warships landing oﬀshore, I came back to warn you, but it was too late. The Roman envoys were already here. When Belinus threatened to slit the young Roman’s throat, I feared his act would incite war with the Romans, and the omens would be fulfilled.”
“Was that your raven that swept into the chamber during the ritual?”
Catrin’s voice quavered. “Well … it might have been.”
Amren regarded Catrin a moment and his eyes turned upward, as if seeking an answer. His face became ashen and his eyes grew big. His brooding silence confused Catrin; the king was normally a man of action and words.
“Father, what is wrong?”
He tapped his fingers and muttered, “The raven. The curse. Is it possible? Has it begun? Why did I not see this? Agrona should have known. Oh, gods! Oh, gods below …” His words crumbled into broken mumbles.
The sudden anguish on her father’s face disquieted Catrin about why her raven had provoked such a strong reaction. She blurted, “Is my raven a curse? At the ritual today, Mother said it was.”
Amren gripped the chair’s armrest as if reining in some troubling thought. “Something happened many years ago, which I never discussed with you. A curse was cast on me. I thought the gods had sent a favorable sign that the spell had been lifted, but after witnessing what happened at the ritual today, I’m not so sure.”
A heavy pain hooked in Catrin’s heart when her father sank his head into the palm of his hands.
“Oh, Father … I never asked for the Raven’s powers.”
Amren jerked his head up. “What powers?”
Catrin looked at her shaky hands, afraid to alienate her father if he revealed the magical forces she culled from her raven.
Amren lightly touched her arm. “I’m not angry with you. Tell me what your raven guide has shown you.”
Reassured, she replied, “The Raven reached out to me. I can sense everything it sees and hears. When it flies over the white cliﬀs, I see the grassy hilltop and ocean beneath me. It was through the Raven’s eyes I observed warships moored in the bay beyond the cliffs. Hundreds of soldiers were settling into camps. This is where I observed Marrock talking with the Roman envoys. The Raven warned me they were conspiring to attack us. It is diﬃcult to explain how I sensed this. It was as if I entered its mind and could see things more clearly. Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m dreaming or not.”
“Explain what happens when you enter this creature’s mind.”
“A burning pain shoots up my arm.” Catrin grimaced and stroked her forearm. “A light flashes in my mind. After that, the world looks diﬀerent to me. I can see all around, not just in front of me. There are purple hues I’ve never seen with my human eyes. Once I visualized falling into a crevice where a strong force pulled me into a light tunnel. I plunged toward a rainbow arch, where animals and humans appeared and disappeared on its surface. In the middle of this arch was a black portal. Just before I burst through it, I leapt out of the Raven’s mind.”
“How do you know this is a portal?” the king asked.
Catrin shrugged. “I … I never thought about it. I just knew that, if I broke through this, I would enter into another realm. I might not get back to my world.”
Amren quietly rubbed his chin for a moment. “This place was also described by a Druidess.”
“No, my former queen, Rhan. Did Agrona teach you how to summon your raven’s magic?”
“No, the Raven showed me.”
Amren narrowed his eyes and frowned. “You are dealing with divine forces from the Otherworld. Rhan told me she summoned her magic from the other side of a portal, but she never told me how. She could prophesy, shapeshift, and call on nature’s forces to help me overcome my enemies. Once, when I was nearly defeated in battle, she summoned Taranis to hurl lightning bolts at my enemy. My rival was struck down dead along with several of his warriors. His remaining troops fled and I won the battle. Alas, Rhan abused these powers.”
The wrinkles around Amren’s eyes crinkled deeper, as if he had dredged up a demon from his past. A twinge of panic hit Catrin that she could release some unforeseeable evil if she did not learn how to control her raven’s powers.
“How did Rhan abuse these powers?”
The king gazed at the candle and recounted, “Trystan, then a Regni boy of fourteen under my ward, overheard Rhan conspire with other nobles. She promised to give them riches if they would assassinate me and transfer my sovereignty over to her. She bragged about being able to change moments in everyone’s life. If they aided her, she would change their destiny for the better.” Amren sniggered. “What arrogance she had. A boy instead changed her fate.”
Amren waved his hand through the candle flame as if the burning pain eased the discomfort of what he was about to reveal. “When Trystan told me about Rhan’s treachery, I had to make my most difficult decision as a ruler—mete out punishment on those I counted as friends and on someone I loved. I beheaded every noble who conspired against me. Their spiked heads were displayed along a pathway which led to my trial by fire. When my feet did not burn after walking barefooted on hot stones, I knew the gods concurred with the punishment I would exact on Rhan for treason. Before I removed her head, I mercifully allowed her to speak, a decision I will regret until my dying day.”
Amren stared at Catrin. She struggled to remain stone-faced, hiding her revulsion of the king’s acts of mercilessly striking down his friends and queen. How could she reconcile the brutal actions with the love and admiration she had for him?
The king’s gaze shifted to the burning candle, as if looking for some kind of succor as he continued his grim tale. “I remember every word of Rhan’s curse as if she said it today. ‘The gods demand the scales be balanced for the life you take. If you deny my soul’s journey to the Otherworld by beheading me, I curse you to the same fate as mine. I prophesy your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire will overtake your kingdom and execute my curse.’”
He sighed ruefully. “The Raven is you.”
Amazon (Universal Link): https://books2read.com/u/4DKGMg
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Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/apollos-raven-linnea-d-tanner/1125792731?ean=2940161846049
Apollo’s Raven (Book 1): https://books2read.com/u/mVRR0J
Dagger’s Destiny (Book 2): https://books2read.com/u/bxQQro
Amulet’s Rapture (Book 3): https://books2read.com/u/mdddX5
Award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, weaves Celtic tales of love, magical adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. Since childhood, she has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology. Of particular interest are the enigmatic Celts, who were reputed as fierce warriors and mystical Druids.
Linnea has extensively researched ancient and medieval history, mythology, and archaeology and has traveled to sites described within each of her books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. Books released in her series include Apollo’s Raven (Book 1), Dagger’s Destiny (Book 2), and Amulet’s Rapture (Book 3). Skull’s Vengeance (Book 4 Curse of Clansmen and Kings) is anticipated to be released in late October 2022.
A Colorado native, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Linnea-Tanner/e/B01N6YEM04