Celtic Blood by James John Loftus

Set in 13th century Scotland. The son of the murdered Earl of Ross, is a fugitive when his family, rival claimants for Scotland's crown, are declared traitors. Influenced by MacBeth and the writing of Nigel Tranter it is a tale of high drama and suspense. 

** DISCLAIMER: This book was sent for review by the author but that will not influence my rating or opinion**

Extra warning is that I am probably a lot harsher with books that I get for review from the author. My mind is convinced that it is my duty to tell them everything so they can improve, after all it is their lively hood in some cases. This book I am going to be really critical off (sorry James if you are reading) because I could see from page one the potential of the plot/characters/setting.

This book has possible the shortest synopsis of any book ever written. No names of protagonists or antagonists, just a brief sentence telling the audience about the general idea of this book. This synopsis needs to be longer. Emphasis on the need. When I read the synopsis on Goodreads (the same as Amazon's) I thought the book sounded interesting but I was not given enough information about the time period, main characters or actual plot.

Let's start out positive, shall we? The very first page throws the audience into an action packed setting which had me intrigued to say the least. Seventeen year old Seward, from somewhere in Scandinavia, is almost killed by the ship wreck of the boat he worked on. By some miracle he survives but as he searches for any other survivors he finds he must fight a bunch of Scottish men who have killed Seward's comrades on the beach. Seward himself ends up failing epically and gets hit over the head but instead of being killed he is saved by the Earl of Ross, Kenneth something-or-other (I say this because his last name is McAedh but I have no clue how to say that out loud or in my mind). The character of Kenneth seemed really interesting to me but I knew barely anything about him and really I wish I had seen more Seward/Kenneth interaction since the shipwrecked teen swears loyalty to him but speaks to him about 2 times.

Another good thing is that within the first few chapters the audience is give some contextual knowledge which is helpful since I know basically nothing about this period of time. I cannot say that I fully understood it though. There were parts where the audience is told a historical story about Caligula... irrelevant in the context of what was happening. I also felt that we did not gain enough information from the actual characters. All knowledge about characters and context is put in as part of the third person voice whereas I would have like to have seen it develop more through the characters.

Speaking of characters, they pop up out of nowhere. Names were mentioned that I had not encountered before and it took me a while to figure out who the hell they were. I believe it would have been easier to follow if the author had written as if the audience were in the same shoes as Seward, who also has basically no knowledge of anything to do with Scotland.  There were no specific dates which would have been good to see in the chapter headings or something. Also, I was confused about the age of Morgund, son of Kenneth who has to fight for his right and life after his father is killed in an attack by his own people.

Chapters were something I struggled with. As a student I usually have time to read 1 or 2 chapters before I have to run off to a lesson but I can't so that here. Each chapter lasts like 100 pages! OK, that was a slight exaggeration (not by much, one was 60 pages) but they were ridiculously long. There are 10 pages for this 314 page book there were 10 chapters. If this were to be edited then I would expect it to change to a minimum of 15-20 chapters. There are plenty cut off points for it.

The language used in this novel does not act to an advantage. If anything it will alienate a large proportion of a reading audience through the intimidation or reading it or, as in my case, the annoyance at the use of it.There was also a lot of problems with punctuation when it came to the speech. It led me to be unsure what tone of voice or meaning the characters had. Maybe it was because of the "influenced by ... the writing of Nigel Tranter" that hindered it. Authors who try to write like other authors have a hard time succeeding because they miss out the basics.

Overall I believe that this book needs revising. It has so much potential to be the action packed, conspiratorial book that glimpses through at moments but it reaches too niche an audience. If I did not like history so much I would have put it down because of confusion but I can see the promise of this book. I wanted to give it a higher rating because I was intrigued and wanted to know what would happen next but there were too many mistakes as well as huge chunks that could be cut out.

Rating 2.5/5


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