The Mark of Edain
History for animal lovers.
Aoife, the niece of Caradoc the chieftain leading the struggle against the Romans in Britain, is captured in a raid and taken to be a slave in Rome. She is also the daughter of a druid, and she has special gifts, one of which is an affinity with animals. She is the only person who can control a particularly wild elephant — the actual elephant which the soothsayer says is the one which the Emperor Claudius must ride in his triumph when he has conquered Britain. Aoife is put in charge of the elephant. She is going home, but she is still a prisoner. After the triumph the elephant will be killed in the arena, and Aoife will also be put to death.
But she discovers she has many secret helpers — like Justinius, a member of the Praetorian Guard, who was born in Gaul, where his true allegiance lies. There is also the Celtic horse trader Galen who acts as a messenger. Then Justinius’ treachery is revealed, and Claudius condemns him to death by crucifixion. But Aoife is now near her tribal homeland. Can Galen and her tribe free both her and Aoife?
The story moves to a satisfactory resolution, but for some readers it will seem rather unfinished. Right at the end a young Boudicca is introduced. To those readers who know what happened to Caradoc and Boudicca this will seem like the beginning of a new book. Cues for a sequel?
This is a fast-paced story which illuminates the early invasion of Britain by the Romans and which also reveals their inherent cruelty. But at the very heart of the story is the bond between Aoife and the elephant. Animal lovers will understand. The Romano-British conflict from a new perspective, for ages 11+.