Monday, December 26, 2022

Virtual Book Tour: Skull's Vengeance by Linnea Tanner


Skull's Vengeance

(Curse of Clansmen and Kings Book 4)

by Linnea Tanner


Historical Fantasy


Historical Background About the Druids.

The druids, who could be either male or female, were the intelligentsia of a Celtic tribe who often had more power than kings in making decisions. Druids officiated at the worship of the gods, regulated public and private sacrifices, and gave rulings on all religious questions. Roman historian Pomponius Mela writes, “The Druids profess to know the will of the gods.” 

Druids ruled under one head with whom they held the highest respect. They served as judges in most disputes, whether between tribes or between individuals, and adjudicated any compensation to be paid. Their decisions were final in all public and private matters. Anyone failing to accept their decision was banned from taking part in any sacrifice—the heaviest punishment that could be inflicted.

The druids believed their religion forbade them to commit their teachings to writings as these could be made public. Students had to memorize volumes of verse—many of them spending twenty years at their studies. They believed that the soul does not perish but passes from one body to another after death. The immortal soul dwells in the human head which is venerated above all else because it is considered to be the temple of the soul. It is the center of emotions as well as of life itself and a symbol of divinity and the powers of the world of the spirits. To possess the enemy’s head is to possess his soul. 

[Insert Photo: Statue of Druid (Wikipedia)]

The importance and extent of the cult of the severed head among the Celts is demonstrated by their display in shrines. The heads were set up at the entrances. Perhaps the souls of these unfortunate warriors were being used for symbolic protection of their enemies’ strongholds.

Despite Roman efforts to destroy the influence of the druids, Celtic spiritual beliefs thrived in oral traditions that were later written down by monks in the form of mythical tales of chivalry, magic, and a pantheon of gods and goddesses which showed their connection to nature. 

Druids as the Magi

The Roman historian, Pliny the Elder (23 AD - 79 AD), referred to druids as the magi.  “Even today Britain is still spellbound by magic, and performs its rites with so much ritual that it might almost seem to be a source of Persian customs.”  

In Celtic literature and tradition, druids have also been popularly referred to as magicians—wizards possessing supernatural powers. By the advent of Christianity in both Ireland and Britain, druids were identified by the word magi —a name for priests of ancient Persia who reputedly had power over supernatural entities. Early Celtic Christian writers gave these supernatural powers to saints in their church.

Ancient Druids as Magi in Skull’s Vengeance

I have taken literary license to depict that some of the Celtic characters in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series could summon the magical powers of the ancient druids. Based on Welsh and Irish mythology and legends, druids could shapeshift, foretell the future, make themselves invisible in magical fog, and summon storms, lightning, or earthquakes.

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?




White Cliffs in Southeast Britannia, 

Eve of Samhain, 31 October, 26 AD

Three human skulls hung over King Marrock’s stallion, dangling from a rope like ornaments. Feeling as invincible as a god, he rode to the precipice of the sheer cliffs and listened to the roar of the waves crashing below. Yet, the raven soaring overhead chilled him to the bone—an omen he was but mortal and could plunge to his death.

He embraced the warmth of Boudicca, his younger half sister, who sat astride his horse in front of him. A toddler full of mirth, she was a healer who could connect to the souls of the dead.

Whereas their mother accused him, also known as Blood Wolf, of being a soulless murderer.

On this eve of Samhain, Marrock knew the souls of the dead freely roamed among the living. He spotted his deadliest assassin, Gawain, searching for the wraith on the emerald hilltop. Gawain had a blue, triangular tattoo of a dagger’s blade on his forehead and deadly weapons underneath his black cloak—the royal insignia of the red dragon stitched to the front panel.

For Marrock, the Otherworldly dragon, with its leathery wings and fiery breath, symbolized perpetual power. It was said that where dragons trod, mystic energy flowed. The untamed beast guarded the portal into the Otherworld.

He yearned for the dragon’s mystic power—the power to summon forces from the earth’s molten underbelly to immolate his rivals.

Gawain pointed to a pile of rocks. “The sheepherder saw the wraith over there,” he said in his deep, gravelly voice.

Marrock handed Boudicca to him and then dismounted, pulling the rope of skulls off his horse and draping it over his shoulders. His family’s skulls served as a warning to anyone who threatened his sovereignty.

Until now, he had only been able to summon the deadly powers from the skulls of his stepmother and bastard sister; their souls were encased in the bone crowns. The soul of his father, King Amren, still eluded Marrock, even after he had sliced off his father’s head. If his father’s soul was indeed wandering the hilltop, he would imprison it in the largest empty skull he had.

Then, he would be able to unleash the collective forces from all three souls.

Glancing all around, he could not see his father’s ghostly figure in the thickening fog. Boudicca’s gleeful giggle roused his attention. He watched her waddle toward a mound of stones and place her tiny hands on the stacked rocks.

“Pa. Pa. Am,” she squealed with delight.

Marrock cast a glance at Gawain. “Did the sheepherder see the wraith disappear into those rocks?”

Gawain nodded. “Indeed, I believe so.”

Marrock transferred the roped skulls from his shoulders to the grassy ground and looked at Gawain. “Help me remove the rocks so I can see what is underneath.”

Gawain joined Marrock in the task of removing the white stones one by one. They inspected each rock for any defect before setting it aside.

Boudicca, mimicking the men, picked up flint pebbles and dropped them on the chalky ground.

After a while, they uncovered the gemstone handle of a dagger; its blade was embedded in a coil-shaped serpent stone. Marrock recognized the jewel-studded dagger as once belonging to his father. Intrigued, he gripped the handle with both hands and strained to pull it out, his muscles aching and his face dripping with sweat from the effort.

Suddenly, to his shock, the hilt turned sizzling hot. He jerked his hands away and inspected the blisters that had formed on his reddened palms. Hearing Boudicca’s gleeful babble, he looked down just as she gripped the dagger’s handle.

“Pa. Pa. Am,” she trilled.

To Marrock’s surprise, Boudicca’s hands did not burn.

A prickling sensation noosed around his neck as he recalled the original curse cast by his mother just before his father had executed her.

The gods demand that the scales be balanced for the life you take. If you deny my soul’s journey to the Otherworld by beheading me, I curse you to the same fate as mine. I prophesy your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire will overtake your kingdom and execute my curse.

King Amren had etched the words of the curse on the dagger’s blade using the Roman alphabet with the belief he could thwart the dark prophecy.

Marrock shuddered.

Does my father’s soul live in the dagger? Has he come back to exact vengeance on me?


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:

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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for commenting, Rita. I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

  2. Thank you for hosting the blog tour for Skull's Vengeance and featuring an excerpt.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Debbie, for dropping in and commenting.

  4. The book sounds fantastic. Great cover!

    1. Thank you for dropping in and commenting about the cover. Happy New Year!

  5. Have to buy this set for my grandson in the New Year!

    1. Thank you, Michele, for dropping and commenting. Best wishes for Happy New Year!

  6. Wonderful read, I just watched a show about the Druids last night - fascinating! Looking forward to reading more of yours; I have AR 😁
    Merry New Year to all!

    1. Thank you for dropping in and commenting. I also found historical background about the Druids to be fascinating. As they didn't leave written records, most of the information about them come from Greek and Roman historians who probably had biased viewpoints. However, the Arthurian Legends and magic is based on their religious beliefs. Hope you've had a great holiday season!

  7. From Rome to Britannia and the Druids! Fantastic and congratulations!

    1. Thank you for dropping in and commenting. I consider 1st Century Britain and Rome to be one of the most fascinating historical time periods. Hope you have a joyous holiday season.


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