Boudica, Queen of the Iceni

Written by Joseph E Roesch
Review by Sara Wilson

Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, is first the daughter of a king, then the wife of a king and finally queen in her own right. Beautiful and powerful, she has been blessed with a keen sense of duty to her people and faithfulness to her goddess. Already determined to stand against the onslaught of the Romans, her iron will is strengthened by the rape of her daughters and the beating she receives herself.

Wielding the great sword, Calabrenn, she summons help from an allied force of local tribes and sets out to expel the Romans from her lands. Although early victories give the Britons hope, history tells that Boudica’s revolt was doomed to fail. Boudica faces her destiny with a heroism born of the hope that one day an ancient prophecy will come true and Calabrenn will be lifted again by a mighty king – and his name will be Arthur.

This book is a prime example of the old chestnut “never judge a book by its cover”. Although not the worst example of artistic excess I’ve seen, it is clichéd and makes Boudica look tawdry rather than defiant. This is a shame because Boudica: Queen of the Iceni is actually a rather good read, with plenty of historical authority and absolutely no spiked chariot wheels in sight. Boudica herself emerges as a semi-religious, mystical Queen, with a strong streak of diplomacy and a rigid backbone.

Joseph E. Roesch has obviously taken great pains with his research and his efforts have paid dividends. The setting and characters have a strongly authentic feel, whilst the various religious, social and political beliefs of the 1st century AD have been recreated with great care and an eye for detail.

Not the book I was expecting to read, but all the better for that.