Title: The Legend of Lady Ilena
Author: Patricia Malone
Series: Lady Ilena #1
Ilena has lived in the Vale of Enfert her whole life, but she knows it isn’t really where she belongs. Her parents, Moren and Grenna, came from somewhere else, and with the both of them now dead, she decides to go after her elusive heritage. But the truth threatens those who seek power, and they will go to any lengths to stop her . . .
Entirely by coincidence, I find myself reading yet another historical novel set in early British/Scottish history (approximately AD 500s). This time, Ilena is the Christian and the local Druids are the ones with the bad relationship with her because of her religion. Thankfully, it’s a lot faster paced, with plenty of action scenes, and Ilena herself participating in most of them thanks to her warrior upbringing.
Practically speaking, her religion is more window dressing to explain why Ilena opposes the Druid’s human sacrifices. She doesn’t pray except a muttered prayer at her father’s burial or do much of anything that would distinguish her from everyone else in the village, aside from refusing to attend the sacrifices. That aside, I did like the period detail, from the clothing to the way people ate. It does a good job being evocative without dumping loads of history because it can. This is especially nice when Ilena is approaching another hill-fort town and describes the bits she notices.
I liked the action scenes too. Slingshots are deadly in the right hands, and even the best warriors can go down under a stone. . .
The romance baffled me. It felt like the story wanted to include a romance, didn’t really have a great setup for it, and reached for the only available guy who had more than two lines of dialogue. Ilena knows him for only a few days, and the next time she sees him she’s thinking about wanting to get married? At least he had the sense to tell her to wait on her decision! And he’s likely ten years older than she is (although that bothers me less than the fact she doesn’t know him).
Overall, not a bad read, though too much of the story is crossing that same mountain trail back and forth for me to want to read it again. I rate this book Recommended.