Boudica: Dreaming the Hound (2005): Manda Scott

★★★★

Boudica: Book III

And so to the third instalment of Manda Scott’s Boudica quartet, which I’m eking out so as not to finish it too soon. Dreaming the Hound takes us deeper into the story of Breaca, the flame-haired warrior whose leadership against the invading legions has earned her the title of the Boudica, ‘bringer of victory’. It also follows the life that runs parallel to her own: that of her conflicted, troubled half-brother, once named Bán, and then Valerius, who served as decurion of the Thracian cavalry under the aegis of Rome and is now, unwillingly, back among his own people.

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Boudica: Dreaming the Bull: Manda Scott

★★★★

Boudica: Book II

Naturally it didn’t take long for me to plunge into the second of Manda Scott’s Boudica books after my admiration for the first volume, Dreaming the Eagle. It is just as magisterial and sensitive as its predecessor, with an epic sweep that now opens out far beyond the tribes of Britannia. Rome is, both culturally and geographically, a more significant player here. Perhaps it lacks a little of the tightly-forged focus of that first book, but this is often the case with second instalments, which both open and close mid-action, as it were. But if that’s a flaw, it’s small and scarcely visible in the finely-crafted whole. Weaving between her two protagonists with elegance, and a fine feeling for the grey areas of the soul, Scott creates yet another gripping glimpse of a lost history.

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Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle: Manda Scott

★★★★★

Boudica: Book I

Three years ago, just after finishing the last novel in Dorothy Dunnett’s Niccolò series, I asked for recommendations of similar books to fill the gap. Although Manda Scott’s Boudica novels were mentioned several times, I didn’t follow them up. I think I shamefully leapt to the conclusion, without any evidence whatsoever, that Boudica was just another identikit sword-and-shield historical series. How wrong I was. When I recently found the first book in a second-hand sale, I decided to see what I made of it. And it’s stunning.

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