Today, award-winning author Linnea Tanner is guesting. She’s talking about her latest series release Curse of Clansmen and Kings, a historical fantasy romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
Linnea on her inspiration for writing the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series:
The first time I saw the statue of a warrior queen, Boudicca, and her daughters in a chariot, alongside the Thames River in London, I was intrigued that she united the Britons in a rebellion against the Romans in AD 61 and almost expelled them. Roman historians describe her as a powerful druidess who sacrificed some of her victims to the war goddess, Andraste.
Although the Celtic society was becoming more paternalistic, women were still held in high regard and could rule. The legacy of warrior queens in ancient Britannia and in Irish mythology inspired the primary protagonist, Catrin, in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series.
The legacy of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) and his tragic downfall with Cleopatra inspired me to create Catrin’s lover, Marcellus Antonius, in my series. He is the great-grandson of Mark Antony and grandson of Iullus, who fell on his sword for his treasonous affair with Augustus Caesar’s only daughter, Julia. Little is known about Iullus’s son, Lucius, except that he was exiled to Gaul as a young man, most likely as a condition to escape retribution for his father’s crime.
During the time period in my series (24 AD – 28 AD), the Antonius legacy was cursed by the act of damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) that erased public records of both Mark Antony and Iullus Antonius. A burning question that I wanted to answer in Skull’s Vengeance is how the tragic legacy would impact Lucius Antonius. How would he react if his son, Marcellus, went down the same fateful path as his forefathers?
Unlike the previous books in the series, Skull’s Vengeance delves into the political firestorm of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. As I researched the Roman political backdrop during the period when Skull’s Vengeance takes place (27 – 28 AD), I became fascinated with the historical figure, Lucius Aelius Sejanus. He was head of the Praetorian Guard who over-reached to gain power from Emperor Tiberius through murder, conspiracy, and betrayal.
Though Tiberius had been an able general and diplomat, his final years as emperor were tyrannical. Roman historians wrote about his sexual perversity and child molestation. At the height of Sejanus’s political power as a consul in 31 A.D., Tiberius unexpectedly had him arrested and mercilessly executed.
Antonia Minor, who is introduced in Skull’s Vengeance, is inspired by my research of this time period in Rome. She was the youngest daughter of Mark Antony and Octavia (Augustus Caesar’s sister), sister-in-law to Tiberius, and half-sister to Iullus Antonius. As a confidant to Tiberius, Antonia Minor had a role in the downfall of Sejanus. She feared her grandson, Caligula, would meet the fate as his older brothers whom Sejanus had imprisoned. She helps Marcellus navigate the political waters to meet directly with Tiberius in the novel.
PenCraft 2019 Best Book of the Year Award
A Celtic warrior princess is torn between her forbidden love for the enemy and duty to her people.
Blurb: AWARD-WINNING APOLLO’S RAVEN sweeps you into an epic Celtic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. In 24 AD British kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him. The king’s daughter, Catrin, learns to her dismay that she is the Raven and her banished half-brother is Blood Wolf. Trained as a warrior, Catrin must find a way to break the curse, but she is torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy, Marcellus, and loyalty to her people. She must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that threatens the fates of everyone in her kingdom.
Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse. Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love for Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren and save her kingdom?
A Celtic warrior princess accused of treason for aiding her enemy lover must win back her father’s love and trust.
Blurb: In the rich and vibrant tale, Author Linnea Tanner continues the story of Catrin and Marcellus that began with the awarding-winning novel APOLLO’S RAVEN in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings Series. Book 2: DAGGER’S DESTINY sweeps you into an epic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia.
War looms over 24 AD Britannia where rival tribal rulers fight each other for power and the Romans threaten to invade to settle their political differences. King Amren accuses his daughter, Catrin, of treason for aiding the Roman enemy and her lover, Marcellus. The ultimate punishment is death unless she can redeem herself. She must prove loyalty to her father by forsaking Marcellus and defending their kingdom—even to the death. Forged into a warrior, she must overcome tribulations and make the right decisions on her quest to break the curse that foretells her banished half-brother and the Roman Empire will destroy their kingdom.
Yet, when Catrin again reunites with Marcellus, she is torn between her love for him and duty to King Amren. She must ultimately face her greatest challenger who could destroy her life, freedom, and humanity.
Will Catrin finally break the ancient prophecy that looms over her kingdom? Will she abandon her forbidden love for Marcellus to win back her father’s trust and love? Can King Amren balance his brutality to maintain power with the love he feels for Catrin?
Blood stains her Celtic home and kingdom.
The warrior Druid princess will do anything to retake her kingdom.
Blurb: Although Catrin is the rightful heir to the Celtic throne in Britannia, she is lucky to be alive. After witnessing the slaughter of her family at the hands of her half-brother, who was aided by the Romans, she is enslaved by a Roman commander. He disguises her as a boy in the Roman Legion with the belief that she is an oracle of Apollo and can foretell his future. The sole bright spot in her miserable new life is her forbidden lover Marcellus, the great-grandson of the famed Roman General Mark Antony.
But Marcellus has been wounded and his memories of Catrin and their secret marriage were erased by a dark Druidess. Though Marcellus reunites with Catrin in Gaul and becomes her ally as she struggles to survive the brutality of her Roman master, he questions the legitimacy of their marriage and hesitates to help her escape and retake her kingdom. If their forbidden love and alliance are discovered, her dreams of returning to her Celtic home with Marcellus will be shattered.
A Celtic warrior queen must do the impossible—defeat her sorcerer half-brother and claim the throne. But to do so, she must learn how to strike vengeance from her father’s skull.
Blurb: AS FORETOLD BY HER FATHER in a vision, Catrin has become a battle-hardened warrior after her trials in the Roman legion and gladiatorial games. She must return to Britannia and pull the cursed dagger out of the serpent’s stone to fulfill her destiny. Only then can she unleash the vengeance from the ancient druids to destroy her evil half-brother, the powerful sorcerer, King Marrock. Always two steps ahead and seemingly unstoppable, Marrock can summon destructive natural forces to crush any rival trying to stop him and has charged his deadliest assassin to bring back Catrin’s head.
To have the slightest chance of beating Marrock, Catrin must forge alliances with former enemies, but she needs someone she can trust. Her only option is to seek military aid from Marcellus—her secret Roman husband. They rekindle their burning passion, but he is playing a deadly game in the political firestorm of the Julio-Claudian dynasty to support Catrin’s cause.
Ultimately, in order to defeat Marrock, Catrin must align herself with a dark druidess and learn how to summon forces from skulls to exact vengeance. But can she and Marcellus outmaneuver political enemies from Rome and Britannia in their quest to vanquish Marrock?
“[An] epic tale of love, betrayal and political intrigue.” —InD’tale Magazine
“The requisite fantasy elements of magic and mystery abound…Tanner also does an admirable job weaving in the politics and mythology of a bygone people.” —Kirkus
“Part fantasy, part historical fiction, Linnea Tanner has woven together a wonderful tale of romance, intrigue, mystery, and legend to create an entertaining and complex story.” —The International Review of Books
“[A] captivating tale of triangles; love, lust and espionage, friend, foe, and spies., barbarians, civilized Rome and spiritual-supernatural beings.” —2019 Pencraft Book of the Year Award
Antonii Villa in Gaul, Eve of Samhain, 31 October, 27 AD
Exasperated, Catrin drew in a sharp breath. Then, she considered Trystan’s impassioned plea to meet with two of her most hated enemies. Recalling how her father had respected his second-in-command’s advice, she reluctantly conceded and squeezed her legs against her horse’s flanks to move toward the campfire’s glow.
The night’s chill mysteriously transformed into an embracing warmth as they neared a roaring fire with a black cauldron hanging over it. Sitting behind the crimson flames were two obscured figures.
“Welcome, Apollo’s Raven,” a woman’s deep voice intoned. “Come to our fire. Join us in the dance of souls.”
Though Catrin hesitated to join them, the fire’s radiance mesmerized her, luring her closer to the orange flames. She dismounted and handed the reins to Trystan, who quietly remained with the horses as she sat down on a fallen log near the roaring campfire.
“Drink the magic from the cauldron,” the woman offered. “It empowers all who partake with the knowledge of mystical mysteries from the ancient druids.”
“I already have that power,” Catrin proclaimed, trepidatious that perhaps Rhan had dropped hallucinogenic ingredients into the bubbling mixture. Thick steam flowed over the cauldron’s edge and down its metal surface in a thick, greenish fog.
“We know, my love, but you have only had a taste,” Rhan replied in a hypnotic voice. “You do not know how to control this dark magic. But we do.”
Suddenly light-headed from the smoky fumes emanating from the cauldron, Catrin struggled to maintain her wits. “Once before you said this, when you tried to trick me into revealing how I can travel to the Otherworld.”
“Believe me, this is no trick,” Rhan said soothingly. “I’ve seen your father’s spirit wander the top of cliffs, near a dagger embedded in a serpent stone. It is the blade on which my curse was etched.”
“I sense the curse has altered again, but I can’t see how the etched wording has changed on the blade,” Myrddin interjected. “You must help us solve the riddle of how the dagger got there.”
Catrin inhaled sharply, realizing Myrddin and Rhan had discovered the location of the dagger she had thrust into the stone. The image of her running away from the Romans played in her mind, and her thoughts transformed into words.
“After the final battle, I tried to escape the Romans, but…but there was nowhere to go, except jump off the white cliffs. At that moment, I chose to die rather than be captured.”
Rhan rose to her feet, walked around the fire, and sat next to Catrin. “But you didn’t die, did you?” she said, touching Catrin’s arm.
“No. A riderless horse galloped to me, stopping in front of me. My father suddenly appeared and told me not to jump,” Catrin disclosed, reliving the supernatural moment in her mind. “I couldn’t believe my eyes that Father was there. I knew Marrock had beheaded him. Yet, I felt his essence and his love radiate into me.”
Tears swelled in Catrin’s eyes as remorse that she had been unable to save her family from Marrock’s brutality overwhelmed her. She swallowed down a sob before continuing her story.
“Father told me to lift the cursed dagger toward the sky. To my amazement, sunlight flashed through the dark clouds, almost blinding me. He then ordered, ‘Thrust the dagger into the serpent stone that I create.’ What I saw next was not a vision. It was real.”
Catrin grimaced as she recalled the burning pain she’d felt as she’d held the hilt of the dagger.
“The blade turned orange, as if it had been taken out of a furnace. Father’s spirit burst apart into gold dust and melted into the blade’s etching. Serpents massed together on the ground. The venom dripping from their fangs hardened into stone. Somehow, I was able to push the dagger into the hard rock, like it was butter. And, and…”
“And what, my dear?” Rhan pressed.
Catrin’s voice cracked. “I was collared by the Romans and put on a warship.”
Award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, weaves Celtic tales of love, magical adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. Since childhood, she has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology. Of particular interest are the enigmatic Celts, who were reputed as fierce warriors and mystical Druids.
Linnea has extensively researched ancient and medieval history, mythology, and archaeology and has traveled to sites described within each of her books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. Books released in her series include “Apollo’s Raven” (Book 1), “Dagger’s Destiny” (Book 2), “Amulet’s Rapture” (Book 3), and “Skull’s Vengeance” (Book 4). She has also released the historical fiction short story, “Two Faces of Janus.”
A Colorado native, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.
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