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Description of Skull’s Vengeance
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.
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?
Read an Excerpt of Skull’s Vengeance
Chapter 1 Portals to the Otherworld
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.”
Interview with Author Linnea Tanner
What would we find under your bed?
You would find nothing under my bed except for a carpet.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
The scariest moment in my life was from a road rage incident. As I drove home on a major interstate under major roadwork, I observed a truck accelerating toward me as I merged from the right lane into the single left lane. The male driver flashed the truck’s headlights and drove within a few feet of the back of my car. Since there was not a shoulder where I could pull over, I had to drive on the single lane with the truck behind me, weaving back and forth and pulling closer and closer.
I finally saw an exit up ahead and turned on my blinkers to signal I was turning right to get away from the truck. As I turned onto the exit, the truck sped beside my car and blocked me. The driver was so enraged, he didn’t seem to care that he could also be injured or killed if he struck my car. I sharply turned my steering wheel to the left to avoid the crash.
Luckily, the truck raced up the exit as I escaped on the interstate. When I assured myself that he wasn’t following me, I took the next exit and parked at a supermarket to calm down. My hands were shaking as I called my husband and told him about the incident. Nothing is scarier than to confront a stranger so enraged that he would risk his life to take yours over something so minor.
Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
I often listen to soundtracks from epic movies or TV series to get me into the mood. Some of my favorite soundtracks are from Game of Thrones, The Last Kingdom, and The Gladiator.
What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I am currently writing a YA novel about the backstory of Catrin’s eldest sister, Vala, who becomes the king’s champion. This novel will be a standalone coming-of-age story of a young adult struggling to understand how she fits in her world. I’m also drafting the 5th book, Dragon’s Anvil, in the series.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me three years to write the novel. Although I had a rough draft of the book, I rewrote most of the scenes and added more political intrigue from the Julio-Claudian imperial family and the tragedy of slave trafficking.
About Author Linnea Tanner
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.
You can follow her on her website: https://www.linneatanner.com/
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.