Stone Keeper – the dramatic climax of the four Star Dancer books.
It is Ad 61. Widowed, pregnant and grieving, Tegen is almost ready to turn her back on her destiny as the Star Dancer who will save Britain. However, she is persuaded to join Boudica’s revolt, as a battle druid, weaving the spells to ensure victory.
But Tegen and the Icini queen loathe each other on sight. Boudica loves retribution and human sacrifice. Tegen longs for peace. The two women can never work together.
Tempted by her pursuing demon, Tegen weaves dark magic fed by grief and anger. She vows to end the fighting by reducing Britain to nothing – a Time of Stone. To this end, she creates a monster that strikes fear into the heart of the most battle hardened Romans.
Together with her friends, Owein the mysterious Romano-British Prince, and Sabrina warrior queen of the Dobunni tribe, Tegen brings about the fall of Boudica. But has she betrayed her destiny?
Returning to her native Mendip hills Tegen’s baby is born, but she is still hounded by the Roman Governor Suetonius Paulinus, who is obsessed with her destruction.
With dark and magical twists and turns, the plot ends with an extraordinary finale – in what we would now call Wookey Hole.
With fascinating historical detail and vivid, fast paced battle scenes, this extraordinary book weaves fact and fantasy into an un-put-downable story.
Read the opening of Stone Keeper:
Near Alderley Edge, where Tonn died
Map 1: Tegen leaves Alderley Edge where Tonn died, and travels due east. She meets Claudia a few miles before Lindium (Lincoln) then continues alone across the fens.
The marsh lands where Boudica had her secret camp
Map 2: Tegen meets Boudica and Sabrina at a secret location in the marshes, then when the battle plans are laid, they journey together to Boudica’s home in Thetford. From there, they go due south to Camulodunum (Colchester), then south again to Lundinium /Lundein (London).
Boudica’s stronghold at Thetford
Map 3: After the destruction of Londinium, Boudica’s followers travelled up Watling Street to High Cross – the possible site of the queen’s last battle.
Tegen fled the battle field and took the Fosse Way back to Sul’s land where she met up with Kieran, Claudia and Ula, and from there they took the road back to Tegen’s home village on the Mendips, Glastonbury Tor where she meets Josephus, and thence into the funeral Caves of Wookey Hole where she makes her last stand against the demon and Suetonius Paulinus.
The gateway to Tir na nÓg (Wookey Hole)
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We left Tegen widowed, pregnant and grieving desperately, but still deeply aware of her destiny as the Star Dancer who will save Britain. Sent to Boudicca by the druids who survived the Roman massacre at Anglesey, Tegen must weave magic to ensure victory for this warrior queen who many believe to be Britain’s last hope. But the demon reaches Boudicca before Tegen does and sows its seeds of distrust and doubt. Boudicca will never trust her battle druid fully and the demon’s influence only increases her bloodlust and greed. Yet if these two women do not work together, all will be lost.
Tegen does her best but even her strongest magic fails. Boudicca falls. And Tegen has betrayed her destiny. Or has she?
Oh aww. It’s a shame to say goodbye to Tegen. I’ve really got to know her over the course of four enjoyable books. She is brave and thoughtful and has such a huge capacity for love that you just can’t help but be drawn to her. But she’s not perfect. She’s impulsive and hot tempered and this is a dangerous combination in someone with magical powers. Tegen’s fury and grief has often brought on magic that has made matters worse in Britain, so she ends up having to right her own wrongs before she can get to grips with everyone else’s.
Stone Keeper ranges through quite a rambling plot – it doesn’t end with Boudicca’s defeat, but when you think about it, it couldn’t really. Tegen’s story could never have ended with that warrior queen’s death and Roman triumph. Instead, her destiny takes her onwards. She encounters a small group of Christians led by Joseph of Arimathea – I don’t think I’m giving too much away by mentioning that – and eventually comes to understand the true meaning of her destiny before facing the demon one last time.
Webb drops a few hints about the future of Britain and how her characters will affect it and I’m wondering if she has an Arthurian cycle in mind for the future. I sure do hope so! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series and the thought of another whets my appetite.
Don’t start with Stone Keeper. Read the first book [link] in the series and then work your way through. I think you’d also enjoy Bracelet of Bones by Kevin Crossley-Holland [link], a beautifully researched historical novel with a quest theme, a strong female central character and an epic tone. You’ll remember Solveig just as you’ll remember Tegen.