THE WHITE MARE: The Dalriada Trilogy, Book One
Australian author Watson deftly blends fact and fancy, action and romance in her splendid historical fantasy debut, set in first-century A.D. Alba (aka Scotland). On the death of Brude, king of the Epidii tribe (aka the People of the Horse), the duty falls on Brude's priestess sister, Rhiann, as the Mother of the Land, to continue the royal line. The sudden arrival during the king's funeral of Eremon, an exiled Irish prince of Dalriada who yearns to reclaim his throne, is taken as a good omen, and the Epidii offer Rhiann as a bride in exchange for help in defeating the encroaching Romans. Eremon quickly accepts, but their emotionally complicated "marriage" creates problems that are just as discouraging as the conflicts among Alba's warring tribes and with Agricola, governor of the Roman province of Britannia. In addition to an appealing love story, well-researched settings and an interesting take on goddess worship rooted in Neolithic times, Watson provides some mystical moments that confirm that "[h]istory can turn on many things. On a word. On a sword blade. On a girl, running up a mountain path, amber hair flying in the wind." Agent, Maggie Loach Literary Agency. (Mar. 31)
Forecast: The tasteful, understated jacket art focused on the outline of a white horse will set this off from the competition on the fantasy shelf.
Release date: 02/01/2005