I live in New York City and I'm surrounded by books all day and when I go home I have more books waiting for me. Read my "About" page on top to see what I mean. I just want to share my book experiences and my love of all-things-books, with hopefully the occasional review thrown in. If you wish to contact me, the address is polishoutlanderATgmailDOTcom

Daughters of Fire by Barbara Erskine

Two thousand years ago, as the Romans invade Britannia, the princess who will become the powerful queen of the great tribe of the Brigantes watches the enemies of her people come ever closer. Cartimandua’s world is, from the start, a maelstrom of love and conflict, revenge and retribution. In the present day, Edinburgh-based historian Viv Lloyd Rees has immersed herself in the legends surrounding the Celtic queen. She has written a book and is working on a dramatisation of the young queen’s life with the help of actress Pat Hebden.
Cartimandua’s life takes one unexpected turn after another as tragedy changes the course of her future.  The young queen has formidable enemies – among them Venutios, her childhood sparring partner, and Medb, a woman whose jealously threatens not only her happiness but her life. Viv’s Head of Department, Hugh Graham, hounds her as she struggles to hide her visions of Cartimandua and her conviction that they are real. Her obsession grows ever more persistent and threatening as she takes possession of an ancient brooch that carries a curse. Both Pat and Hugh are drawn into this dual existence of passion and jealousy, of bitter rivalry and overwhelming love as past envelops present and the trio find themselves facing the greatest danger of their lives.

I took this book with me to Texas last month since it was a big book that I knew would keep me company on the flights and in the airport. I have no idea how I came across this author but this was one of two books by her that I really wanted to read. Her books are not available here in the States, but I managed to get my copy via PBS last year.

I loved the story of Cartimandua. I never heard of her, probably because all of the focus has always been on Boudica, who was her contemporary. But here is the difference: Boudica was never officially a queen, but Cartimandua was a queen. A queen who was loyal to the Romans…

So this book let’s us see a possible reason why Cartimandua was loyal to the Romans: she just wanted peace for her people. Ultimately, she was loyal to her people, even if some didn’t see it that way, like her own husband. For me, she sort of reminded me of a northern Cleopatra.

The only thing that bugged me about her character was when she divorced Venutios and married his arms-bearer. She acted so selfishly around this new husband. It wasn’t the same type of love that she had with her first husband, not with Venutios. Still, I enjoyed learning about this woman and all these new historical figures. And I wish this book was only that…

The modern-day parts really kept frustrating me, because they kept getting in the way of the story! I didn’t skim those parts because I was afraid of losing some bit of information. Granted, it made you feel like you were learning all this history along with the modern-day characters, which can be good, if employed properly. Sadly, I just wanted Viv, and Pat, and Hugh and all of them to disappear. It actually got a bit confusing, reading the parts of the modern-day characters, because the historical characters would actually take over in order to tell their stories.

I had originally wanted to read another book by this author but it seems as though her books follow this same sort of modern-day and past formula, so I don’t think I’ll be looking out for it.

But if you happen to be interested in this author and her books, her website has some great info.

And for any of us looking to know more about this historical queen, I did find this book while searching for more info on Cartimandua. The author’s website is here.

1 comment to Daughters of Fire by Barbara Erskine

  • I don’t think I usually mind the back-and-forth thing too much, as long as it’s done well. It sounds like this one wasn’t. I will always prefer one story to the other and keep wishing I could get back to the better plot.

    Have you read Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott? That’s the beginning of a series about Boudica. I’ve read a couple of them and liked them.