I’d say the trilogy is the best way to read this chronicle, because it’s impossible to put down. Our warrior druid, Bellicus (or Bel, to his friends) is a huge, young, intimidating fellow with a heart of gold. This takes place in the early days of King Arthur, who we get to meet but who plays a background character because our story mainly takes place in the north. Way north, where Christianity hasn’t gained a foothold yet. The ancient religion prevails, and our druids have a direct relationship with their god. They make a blood sacrifice and get results. That’s more than the Christians can say! Our Bellicus lives in a nearly impregnable royal fortress named Alt Clota, but our story begins during a visit to a lesser ruler, where the king’s daughter is kidnapped during a feast in front of everybody. Bellicus takes it upon himself to follow the perpetrators alone—a risky venture, at best. He soon discovers that the culprits are Saxons, intent on conquering the whole country, starting with the south. They intend to sacrifice the girl to the gods, and Bellicus nearly gets himself killed trying to rescue her. Along the way he picks up an invaluable new friend, Duro, a former centurion who saves his life and stays with him the rest of the chronicle.
Trying not to give too much away, suffice it to say that King Coroticus was undone by the circumstances surrounding his daughter’s abduction—even after she was safely returned. He became suspicious of everyone and started behaving antagonistically toward his neighboring tribes, inevitably bringing hostile forces against his own fortress. He even developed an implacable jealousy of the druid and the queen. One evening, during a particularly rowdy feast, while a dancing Queen Narina tripped against Bellicus—and of course he kept her from falling—the king walked into the room at that moment:
The spell was broken when Narina, eyes flaring, drew back, away from him, and then something hit him, hard, in the side of the face.
Instinct took over and, even as his head rocked to the side, he threw out an elbow, feeling it glance off something, but his momentum brought him around and he unleashed a left hook that hammered into his attackers open mouth.
Bellicus felt the skin split on his fingers as they hit bared teeth, but the stinging pain from that was nothing compared to the feeling, as if ice-water had been thrown over him, when he recognized whom he’d just punched unconscious.
Oops! Needless to say, things went from bad to worse and Bellicus was on the road again, doing as much “damage control” as he could against forces that affiliated against his beloved Alt Clota. The Picts were a particularly powerful enemy, aided by Bellicus’s mentor, the druid Qunavo, and the beautiful Ria, another druid Bel was attracted to. Now they were enemies—or were they, exactly? Once again, we see that the tribes quarreling amongst themselves leave them wide open to their common enemy—the Saxons—though not everyone has even recognized the danger yet. And we know that the Saxons, who worship different pagan gods, are inevitably going to lose the war against the Christian religion. There are a lot of subtle plotlines underlying the action, and at this juncture the only solid belief is the druids’ belief in their own power.