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. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adventure in ancient Scotland that's a potent mix of historical fiction, druid-tinged fantasy, and romance. With nods to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, newcomer Watson presents an ancient Scotland peopled by strong-minded women and powered by ancient, goddess-based magic. Redheaded Rhiann is the last of the royal line of the Epidii tribe, the tribe's "Ban Cre," charged with producing an heir; she's a healer, trained in her art in the all-female environs of the Sacred Isle; and she's an unwilling rival for her tribe's power-hungry chief druid. She's also one of the few local leaders who can see that the Roman army is a force that must be reckoned with; most other tribal headmen are counting on the geographic isolation of Scotland (here called "Alba") to protect it from General Agricola's advancing red-clad menace. Rhiann has enough vision to realize that unless the tribes of Alba band together, Agricola will pick them off one by one. Luckily, her husband, one Eremon of Erin (Ireland), who was chosen to be her partner in an arranged marriage, is in accord. Together, the two prepare to convince the other kings of the wisdom of partnership. Meanwhile, there's the difficult business of offspring: Rhiann had a bad experience with raiders and can't stand a man's touch. And Eremon has troubles of his own: he's hiding the fact that he and his 20 loyal followers were banished from Erin by his treacherous uncle. There are plenty of plotlines, but Watson keeps them nicely dovetailed and tightly laced with romantic tension, treachery, and cliffhangers aplenty. She's done her homework, boning up on Tacitus for historical detail and verisimilitude, butthere's imagination here, too, and the work's all the better for it. Mightily appealing.
From the Publisher
"Jules Watson has conjured up the mythic past, a land of Celtic legend and stark grandeur…fascinating and unforgettable." Sharon Kay Penman
"Watson deftly blends fact and fancy, action and romance in her splendid historical fantasy." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Watson presents an ancient Scotland peopled by strong-minded women and powered by ancient, goddess-based magic...tightly laced with romantic tension, treachery, and cliffhangers aplenty" Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A fine historical epic"Woman's Own
"It requires a special sort of imagination to create a plausible vision of Britain at the time of the Roman conquest. Jules Watson's White Mare, the first in an epic trilogy of life in Celtic Britain, rises effortlessly to the challenge." – Daily Express