Celtic Warrior Queen Captured in Fine Detail
By Jan Surasky
Sandalwood Press, $25.95, 220 pages
Aptly titled from a line in Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ poem, “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night”, Rage Against the Dying Light tells the epic of fair-haired Celtic queen Boudicca and her historic rebellion against Roman rule, as seen through Celtic eyes. With acute attention to detail, Surasky traces Boudicca’s life from the carefree castle halls and forest glens of her childhood through her spirited teenage years, her training as a Druidic princess, and her royal marriage and motherhood, and climaxes with her fierce metamorphosis into patriot warrior – a tragically triumphant role that would forever make her a symbol of Celtic courage.
“She paused, looking at each chief as she stopped. Then, she continued, “I fight not as Iceni queen, but as an Iceni woman and daughter of the ancients. To avenge the wrongs of the Romans upon me and upon my daughters.”
She paused once again, raising her voice over the clatter of the birds as she continued. “I will lead you to freedom,” she said. “I will fight to the death as our ancestors fought before us.””
Surasky’s genuine passion for her subject and affinity for her heroine emanates from every page. Her deep research creates with fine threads a vibrant tapestry of life in 1st-century Briton; so meticulously layered in fact that some may find the introductory chapters a somewhat arduous read, in that it can be difficult to see the burgeoning story line amidst all the details. However, persistence is rewarded: Surasky poetically weaves a truly compelling story – one that vividly captures not only the spirit of Boudicca but that of the Celtic people as well; flesh and bone, heart and soul.
Reviewed by Renée Butcher