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Dreaming the Bull: Boudica Book 2    by Manda Scott order for
Dreaming the Bull
by Manda Scott
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dreaming the Bull follows Dreaming the Eagle as the second in a four part series about the life and times of the Celtic ruler of the Eceni. Breaca, anointed 'the Boudica', fought for almost two decades against the Roman occupation of early Britain. Manda Scott reveals to us a rich Celtic civilization, in which women are equal to men as warriors and rulers, and major tribal decisions are guided by 'dreamers', amongst whose talents are various degrees of skill at foreseeing the future.

This second episode has a major element of Greek tragedy. Breaca believes her beloved younger brother Ban to be dead. He, in turn, believed her slaughtered along with his parents before he was sold into slavery in Gaul. In the first book, Ban rose from that condition, scarred in body and spirit, to join the Roman legions. As Julius Valerius, he participated in the invasion of Eceni lands, and saw his mother killed. Despite knowing now that his sister lives, he despairs of forgiveness and so continues on the dark path of betrayal of his people, even joining the Roman warrior cult of Mithras. Mistaking Caradoc's role in past events, Ban is obsessed with revenge against Breaca's husband.

The story opens in AD 47 as a new governor, Scapula, arrives in Britain. His ruthless reputation is shown to be deserved when he brutally subjugates local tribes. Ban befriends Thracian Longinus, and participates in atrocities, rising to lead a troop as decurion. Breaca, who already had a small son Cunomar with Caradoc, births a daughter, Graine, of whom greatness is foretold. While she recovers from childbirth, Scapula rides against Caratacus (the Roman name for Caradoc) and his army. Events unfold with the betrayal and capture of members of Breaca's family. They're taken to the Emperor Claudius in Rome. Despite her fear for them, Breaca avows that 'Love isn't always a weakness.'

I am enthralled by this series, for its portrayal of Celtic civilization and its 'dreamers', and for its epic account of the struggle of Boudica (Boadicea) against the Roman invasion. I anxiously await the 3rd episode, Dreaming the Hound.

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