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Dreaming the Hound: Boudica Book 3    by Manda Scott order for
Dreaming the Hound
by Manda Scott
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This third (following Dreaming the Eagle and Dreaming the Bull) of a planned quartet in the Boudica series is set in AD 57. Nero is Emperor in Rome. In Britain, the Celtic Eceni in the East have been brutally subjugated, while the West still fights back under the Warriors and Dreamers of the sacred Isle of Mona.

Breaca, the Boudica, sates her anger and despair over the loss of Caradoc (who still lives but cannot return to her) by hunting alone, her prey Roman soldiers. Ban, now known as Valerius, the betrayer of his people, works as a smith in Hibernia, and only cares for Bellos, the boy he rescued from slavery and abuse. But the gods have plans for both brother and sister. They make known to Breaca that the Romans will enslave all the Eceni unless she returns to the East 'to give back to the people the heart and courage they have lost.' And the Elder of Mona, Luain mac Calma, reveals Ban's parentage to him, and manipulates him into crossing the sea to Britain, where he, 'walker between the worlds', reconciles his worship of the gods of his people with that of the Roman Mithras.

Against her will, Breaca's children (warriors Cygfa and Cunomar, and small Graine, a powerful dreamer) and closest friends (Airmid, Dubornos and Ardacos) follow her into danger - Manda Scott incorporates the traditional tale of Boadicea into this novel and explains her take on history in a very interesting Author's Note at the back. Spending time with them, Breaca grows closer to her children and sees her son mature into a man 'who had left a child and come home more than she had ever hoped he could be.' At the same time, Mona itself comes under attack, and Valerius (who dreamed a hound into being, hence the book's title) plays a strong role in its defense, despite the hatred of those he helps.

This third episode maintains the extraordinary quality of a series, that I find more and more reminiscent of Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy. As well as furthering the Boudica legend, Dreaming the Hound provides redemption for both Valerius and for 'Tagos (the one-armed Roman puppet king of the Eceni who loved Breaca). I enjoyed meeting well-intentioned Romans such as physician Theophilus and Valerius' friend, Thracian Longinus, again. And I can't wait to see Ban and Breaca fight the invaders together in the series conclusion.

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