Author: Mark Noce
Series: Queen Branwen #1
Rating: 4 stars
Book Blurb: Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales' last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King. But the fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen becomes the target of assassination attempts and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan, her world threatens to tear itself apart.
Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.
This was an enjoyable re-read in preparation for the release of Dark Wind Rising, the sequel.
This book, again, proves I'm a moody reader. Reading this book last year I felt "meh" about it. This time around I couldn't put it down. I really got into the mystery and although I remembered most of the twist I had forgotten bits and pieces.
Branwen is a good character- young and immature at first, making impulsive far-reaching decisions without thinking things through. But she comes into her own nicely.
As with the first reading, I felt that first person present tense is not my cup of tea- BUT, and this is a big "but", the story is strong. This book could be a tv show, a good one in my opinion. The mystery arc is this book's strength. And the political intrigue is handled quite well. It also deals with a time that is not done to death but is still popular. The "tense" issue still dings the book for me- that and the overuse of the word azure to describe characters' eyes. After a while, I was like "BLUE just say BLUE already!" But I'm being picky.
I look forward to reading the next in this series. A side note: if you wanted to read this as a standalone you can, the story wraps up nicely. It actually took me by surprise when I found out there was another book.