The unusual spelling of the title had me a bit worried at first, but once I started reading, I was hooked.
I’ve read a good bit of historical fiction, especially pre-Christian Britain, but this was different than most. The writing was overall solid, the characters were vivid, and the story moved at a brisk pace. I was absorbed and could not put it down, and when I was done, I felt disappointed.
There were some areas where a good bit of suspension of disbelief was called for, and while that can sometimes be a struggle for me…with this book, I didn’t care. The story overall was just that good – my eyebrow might have twitched a bit, but I wasn’t about to stop reading. I was completely willing to go along with whatever I was told because I was having such a good time. The architectural explanation was very plausible, at least as plausible as other theories I’ve read about.
There were several passages I particularly enjoyed. There were beautiful descriptions of the countryside and the weather. Chapter 2 starts with a massive thunderstorm and the reader moves inside the castle with a family whose house has been unroofed by the storm, and the transition from wind and rain to warmth and light was just really well done. Coel’s final speech of the book gave me goosebumps because I was so deeply into the story at that point.
I did have a few quibbles. The formatting in some sections for the Kindle was a bit odd, with sections suddenly indented. Quotation marks are not always placed appropriately (sometimes the end quote is missing, sometimes a beginning quote). I would recommend having someone go through the book looking for punctuation and capitalization issues, and to catch things like “(she) looked at him expectedly” (expectantly) and “enjoying the reverie and celebration” (revelry). I don’t mind dialect, but the spelling of “you” bothered me a lot, possibly because I can’t figure out a difference in pronunciation and it just looked odd. I also can’t figure out how the word “are” would be rendered as “ar'” in a dialect.
I received this book as a free download for the Kindle. I would not have been disappointed had I purchased it, and certainly at the current price of 99 cents, it’s a heck of a bargain in my opinion. I will be purchasing the next book in the series, even though I have a giant pile of free books in my Kindle to read. I hope I will be able to say nice things about that one, as well.
Lucy Ditty 4 Stars
The fact that Boudicca Queen of the Iceni (an ancient Celtic people) was in this book is what piqued my interest as I have been an admirer of hers for years. What I got out of the deal was more than I could have hoped for. Jeff Blackmer takes you by the hand and transports you to a Scotland of old, when the Romans still “tried” to rule Britain. Though Queen Boudicca died in her attempt at ridding her precious country of the Romans, her legacy lived on. This is a tale of the Scottish people and their tenacity, pride and strong will. As the story progressed I was caught up in the family history and the struggles that accompanied It. The old beliefs aiding the newer generations was amazing! Dragons even made appearances !By the end of this story I found myself cheering for the Scottish people and also weeping for their losses! Now I’m on my way to read the next book “Highland King” and I know I will not be disappointed !
Monique Lomino 5 Stars
It’s hard to imagine what life was like for our ancestors – and then you read Draegnstoen. This book is gut wrenching to read.
Blackmer has managed to make an entire civilization tangible, as you live their heartaches and challenges with them. What struck me the most was how perfectly he takes history and makes you feel the pain of their leader as they take their people to battle, the pain of childbirth and daily life, and how fickle old style war really was (in fact it’s probably the same now, just not so public). This book made me hate the Romans more than you can imagine.
It struck a nerve with me, as I’m of Celtic descent, and I understood reading this how harsh and cruel life was when you had to defend against invasion, and how a new conqueror doesn’t respect the land or the people they’re invading (or their systems). Can I say again, this book really made me hate the Romans (if you could hear my thoughts now it would be one long bleeeeep). And in *those days* you didn’t just have invaders to worry about. Sometimes trouble is hiding in your own family.
Aside from the historical journey, Draegnstoen has some immensely charismatic and touching characters. The battle scenes are gripping, and you won’t be able to stop reading once you’ve started. Anyone who’s read Diana Gabaldon will love this book.
Unhesitatingly five out of five stars. This was excellent value for my money (I read it in just a few hours, I was so swept away)
Amazon Customer 5 Stars
Draegnstoen settles at once into the bones. After so much Arthurian tragedy, this book glimmers of a triumphant end, that of the Britain tribes ousting the Romans. I was entranced with the royalty that led to Coel, Old King Cole in British legend, his brother’s marriage to his sister and the dragon hunts, depicted so that I wondered if dragons might have become an extinct species in Britain.
The momentum along with the details made me confident of the author’s research into the fifth century A.D. And the intermarriage with the Pict tribes from Scotland was charming, in dialogue and in the uncertainty of the alliance. The Pict princess entered battle tattooed and she had a crow at command.
This whole book is elegantly constructed with intrigue and the spying that finally gathers the tribes to Coel. They fight the Romans, one thane revenging a crucifixion, and as the Goths dominate Rome. But it is the focus on individuals that keeps one reading. In the end, I felt a chill in my spine because I believed this book had comprehended early Britain and a war it had won.
Katherine Holmes 5 Stars
I just finished Draegnstoen, by Jeff Blackmer, and here’s what I think:
This book made me think of a big tangle of thread, leaving me wondering what would happen next, and how this or that scene would tie in. Then the author took all these disparate threads and voila! with a deft touch, he wove them all together into a complex, beautifully constructed tale that has continued to captivate me even after finishing.
RAL West 4 Stars