cover image Druids


Morgan Llywelyn, Morgan Llwyelyn. William Morrow & Company, $19.95 (456pp) ISBN 978-0-688-08819-4

Caesar's Gallic Wars are recounted from the viewpoint of the losers in this highly readable evocation of the culture of the European Celts. Ainvar of the Carnutes, a young orphan druid-in-training, receives instruction for the ``manmaking'' rituals with prince Vercingetorix of the Arverni, forging a bond that will later unite them in an effort to free Celtic Gaul from Roman domination. As young men they travel through the Province (southern France, long settled and ruled by Rome), the warrior studying military strategy, the priest observing the society and developing arguments against assimilation, which has proved tempting to many of the free Gauls. When Vercingetorix is king of the Arverni and Ainvar the chief druid, the two strive to unify the intensely individualistic, frequently warring and suspicious tribes, with little initial success. But when Gaius Julius Caesar, pro-consul of Rome, seizes on the migration of the Helvetii to escape German depredation as an excuse to take action against Free Gaul and the Germans, the other kings place themselves under the leadership of Vercingetorix, who mounts a swiftly moving campaign against enormous odds. Llywelyn ( Red Branch ) imaginatively and vividly portrays the druid rituals and their close ties to nature, and authentically depicts daily life among the Celts as well. (Mar.)