Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Druids by Morgan Llywelyn

I come from Celtic stock (pronounced keltic by the way whatever the footballers think) and growing up I learned about the rich social and cultural history of my tribal ancestors. Though the Celtic society was enlightened in many ways ( in relation to the status of women for example and a deep respect for learning) their fragmented tribal society was unable to resist the onslaught of Julius Caesar's Roman legions who's successful campaigns  purged Celtic culture from all but the most Westerly regions of Europe.

History of course is written by the victors so most of what we know of the Roman campaigns in Gaul comes from Roman accounts most notably those written by Casear himself.  It was therefore refreshing to come across this novel  purporting to tell the tale of Gaul's downfall from the Celtic side.

The novel started out promisingly. Llywelwyn's depictions of Celtic society match what I had previously heard and his choice of Druid for a main character allows him to draw upon a wealth of lore and mythology. Unfortunately the story itself quickly descends into soap opera. A fairly thin story is patched onto the known historical facts and the authors attempts to flesh the tale out with sex and magic are quite unconvincing.

When you already know that a story is going to end tragically it is very important that the author sucks you in and and gets you so engrossed in the story and its characters that you just have to keep reading to the bitter end. Llywelwyn's book falls far short of this and I nearly abandoned it many times for lack of interest. Only the fact that I have nothing else to read at the moment ensured that I finished this one.

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