Next up on David’s Book Blurg I’m reviewing Song of the Centurion by Steven A. McKay.
Here’s the blurb
It is AD 430. Against all odds Princess Catia has been rescued from her brutal Saxon captors and Bellicus is taking her home at last.
As the giant warrior-druid knows, however, the gods rarely make things easy and, even if he can escort the girl back to the North safely, their troubles will be far from over…
In a land beset by the rivalries of petty warlords, Dun Breatann has stood solid and secure for untold generations. Trouble brews though as King Coroticus has cracked under the pressure and, as well as starting a war with the neighbouring kings, he has become jealous, suspicious, and often blind drunk. When the king’s paranoia finally boils over during a winter feast, Bel finds himself with two choices – accept exile, or complete another seemingly impossible undertaking.
So much for the returning hero…
Accompanied by his massive war-dog, Cai, and the ever-loyal former centurion, Duro – who has his own painful issues to contend with – Bellicus must somehow survive a journey east into enemy-held lands. There, he will need to use his gods-given talents to the full if they are to survive the winter frosts and carry out the mad king’s orders without being captured or killed by the men of Dalriada.
Folklore, superstition, the healing power of song, and even a wondrous white stag will all play a part in the companions’ continuing adventures, but, no matter the outcome of their mission, it will take a miracle to untangle the mess they’ve left behind in Alt Clota. Armies are gathering and, when spring returns, the people of Dun Breatann will be under siege once again.
Will their legendary warrior-druid be there to defend them, or will the new ways sweep away the old once and for all?
When we last saw Bellicus he had just rescued Princess Catia from the Saxons. As he makes his way back to the King and Queen we see that the relationships between Catia, Bellicus and Duro has grown strong and they’re all looking forward to a nice warm welcome on their return…
You’d think the King would be happy to see the return of the Princess but in Bellicus’s absence the King has changed.. he’s not the man he was and his quick temper is slowly putting his people under strain.. they will only take so much.. can Bellicus help set the King back on the right path?
Well he tries.. he really does but in the end the King sends Bellicus away on a mission.. a mission that seems doomed to fail.
Bellicus will honour the King’s wishes but he knows the Saxon’s are the real threat so he needs to get this task done.. and fast.
Things never go to plan of course and Bellicus must use all his cunning to make it out in one piece.
When all is done it’s time to return home.. but how will the King receive him this time?
McKay has outdone himself with this one. Being a fan of the author my biggest fear was him moving away from a series I loved to something new.. would It live up to expectations.. well it smashed the ball out of the park to be honest.
While the first book in the series The Druid was very plot driven to get the readers sucked in to a new series, book two is character driven development which is what I wanted to see.. this is the kind of action I need.. the kind of connections with the characters I want.
The word to describe this book is “Development” in more than one way. Not only does the tale develop amazingly I feel it shows real author development as McKay cements is credentials as a top-notch author.. he’s no one trick pony. He himself says that at one point progress on this book was side-lined for a while as he was involved with other projects but you’d never think that from reading the book.. it flows perfectly, the direction is never forced and that ending was pure brilliance.. as a storyteller McKay is up there with the best of them..the whole white stag storyline was not only riveting but joyous to read.
Bellicus along with his loyal war dog Cai and Duro the centurion are the perfect team.. they complement each other superbly and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Duro for me steals the show as I felt he had a larger part to play in this tale compared to the first book in the series..(for obvious reasons if you’ve read the book).. he was often the one who put a smile on my face with his humour but I also felt for him.. there’s some deep wounds that will take time to heal and this side of him really makes you take a shine to him.
Overall it’s a cracking read.. but it’s more than that.. it’s the perfect 2nd book in a series.. it shows growth from the first book but leaves you in no doubt this Is a series you need to keep following.
Everyone should have a copy of this on their bookshelf.
My rating – 5/5 Stars