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Knowing the Enemy: The Last Tribes of Britannia by Lea Moran

A glimpse into ancient Britain told through the eyes of Luca, whose story is one of family, rivalry, relics, roots and war.

By Rachel DeemingPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - December 2023
Knowing the Enemy: The Last Tribes of Britannia by Lea Moran
Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash

I love stories about ancient Britain and Lea Moran does an excellent job of creating a tale set in those times, which draws on the uncertainty between tribes and the fight for dominance as well as the fear of invasion from outsiders.

The Romans have departed (or mingled or assimilated, whatever happens to the conquering nations and the populace after subjugation) but the vestiges of their rule are left in the names of the places like Glevum, now Gloucester as well as in the names of the characters. It is near Gloucester where the book is set, which coincidentally is close to the part of this globe that I currently call home.

The constant threat of war and the prospect of violence is the backdrop to Luca's story which is a very human tale of identity and rivalry and coming-of-age. The book begins with an incident which leads us into the exploration of one of the key relationships which Luca has in the book, with his brother Kennan. The situation in which the brothers find themselves is a great way to start a book and pique the curiosity of the reader, as Moran starts at the end point, the narrative then leading us to where we first find ourselves reading, through the retelling of Luca's personal history. The narrative may be skewed to Luca's recollections only but he feels like a safe voice with little agenda.

Luca lives in a small village where the constant prospect of war between tribes is discussed and feared. Within this, Moran builds a picture of a simple life which must go on despite the uncertainty of rulers' divisions. There will be other hardships to face like putting food on the table and surviving extreme natural elements and so, life continues on a day-t0-day basis regardless. Lucanus is a potter who makes enough money to feed his family, whose skills will be taught and passed on to the next generation.

Despite all appearances of a steady family life, with his mother, father and Kennan, as well as Minura, his sister, there are always tensions that threaten to cloud Luca's existence. It is clear that Lucanus, Luca's father favours Kennan and through the course of the book, we learn gradually from where his enmity towards Luca arises. It is clear that Luca is different to the other siblings and this is emphasised when Luca is sent to the monastery to learn to read with Father Faustus. Here, Luca encounters, from the monk, exposure to a differing view of the world around him which is counterbalanced by his contact with Veryan Hen, the village healer.

The rather lovely book cover with its Celtic knots, as illustrated by the author, Lea Moran

As Luca's world widens, Luca and Kennan's lives become more diverse, and so, the gap between them increases. Moran also adds into this how small gripes and separations can become compounded over time until they become insurmountable. Along with sibling rivalry, Luca also has to contend with questions of identity and loss of loved ones as well as navigating the difficult teenage years and the attractions these hold.

The tension mounts until a final confrontation seems inevitable but it is driven by one thing in particular, which I will leave you to discover.

A good historical novel, well-written with flowing prose and clear characterisation.

I would recommend.

Rachel Rating: 4/5 stars

I was privileged to read this book as an ARC. Parts of this review were first published on Reedsy Discovery and you can access this at the link below:

Thanks for stopping by. If you have read the book, please let me know your thoughts on your reading of it. And, of course, if you've read this review, please do leave a comment as I love to interact with my readers.

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About the Creator

Rachel Deeming

Mum, blogger, crafter, reviewer, writer, traveller: I love to write and I am not limited by form. Here, you will find stories, articles, opinion pieces, poems, all of which reflect me: who I am, what I love, what I feel, how I view things.

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Comments (11)

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  • Jane Arnold2 months ago

    Interesting perspective. Thinking more from travel psychology perspective now.

  • Donna Fox (HKB)4 months ago

    This was a great review! I'll definitely be adding it to my TBR list for something different than my usual genre! Thank you Rach!!

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Wonderful review!!! Loved it!!! Congratulations on Top Story too!!!

  • Celia in Underland4 months ago

    Congratulations on TS. I haven't read much historical fiction but you've definitely given me the shove to start! That book cover is lovely, the celtic design would definitely draw me in 🤍

  • JBaz4 months ago

    I enjoy historical fiction. This book sounds very interesting. Great job of giving details but leaving out spoilers Congratulations

  • Grz Colm4 months ago

    Rachel’s reviews! Woohoo! Sounds intriguing. “Until it becomes insurmountable”.. I hear that! Glad you enjoyed! 😊👍

  • This sounds like a very profound, eye opening and thought provolone book. I also loved the name Minura. Excellent review!

  • Lana V Lynx4 months ago

    Fascinating, thank you for reviewing this book!

  • Shirley Belk4 months ago

    Ok....I'm hooked now! All the elements I love to read....history, complex relationships, and real life struggles. On my list to read as soon as possible. Love how Lea describes herself. (I have a granddaughter named Lea, so this endears me, too) Excellent review, Rachel. Be proud of yourself!!

  • Hannah Moore4 months ago

    It sounds like a really enjoyable read!

  • Rachel, this is one outstanding review. The details and time you put into this really show. Excellent work!!!

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