I love historical fiction with a magical twist. So when I found The White Mare I knew I had to read it, and I’m glad I did. It’s the first book in the Dalriada trilogy and I’ve mentioned it in my February TBR post (I’m so proud that I actually read it in February!)
The story is set in Scotland during the time of the Roman conquest. Agricola, the governor of Roman Britain, wants to extend the border and conquer the lands of Alba. When the Irish price Eremon and his companions arrive on Alba’s shores they meet the Epidii and form an allegiance with them to fight the Romans. To buttress this allegiance Eremon marries the former king’s daughter Rhiann, who is not happy at all to be given to a man like that. Due to her traumatic and violent past, the marriage doesn’t start well. But the Roman threat is looming …
I loved the writing style. Jules Watson’s prose is beautiful and fits the story perfectly. Her descriptions of the culture of the Epidii, their religion and values paint a vivid picture of how life could have been back then. Of course, not everything is historically accurate, as a lot is still unknown. But that’s the beauty of historical fiction – you can fill in the gaps. And Jules Watson does an amazing job.
The fantasy elements are a nice touch too. Historical novels that treat the myths and religious believes of a people as true are my favourite type of story. The religious rituals in The White Mare add another interesting layer to the story.
I love the characters she created. Both Eremon and Rhiann (the main characters) are interesting, multi-faceted and have their own complex reasons for their actions. All their misunderstandings, betrayals and their stubbornness made me want to tear my hair out at times. But in a good way, of course.
The story kept me glued to the pages and I couldn’t put it down. I really wanted to know what would happen next.
Bonus points for the historical note at the end of the book. I’m always happy and grateful if authors include a short chapter on the history behind the story.
Overall, a wonderful story, and I’ll definitely continue reading the trilogy. I highly recommend The White Mare to everybody who’s interested in history, especially Roman and early British history.