Saturday 9 July 2022

A Discovering Diamonds Review of Before Beltane by Nancy Jardine

Celtic Fervour Series Prequel

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Fictional Drama
AD 71
Roman Britain

"AD 71 Northern Britannia
At the Islet of the Priestesses, acolyte Nara greets each new day eager to heal the people at Tarras Hillfort. Weapon training is a guilty pleasure, but she is devastated when she is unexpectedly denied the final rites of an initiated priestess. A shocking new future beckons for Princess Nara of the Selgovae…

In the aftermath of civil war across Brigantia, Lorcan of Garrigill’s promotion of King Venutius is fraught with danger. Potential invasion by Roman legions from the south makes an unstable situation even worse. When Lorcan meets the Druid Maran, the future foretold for him is as enthralling as it is horrifying…

Meet Nara and Lorcan before they meet each other in The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of the Celtic Fervour Series."

For those who, like this reviewer, have not read any of the Celtic Fervour books, this prequel seems to set up the two primary characters of the series well. Reading the excerpt from the first novel in the series at the end of this book, one can see that it picks up fairly close to where the prequel ends, so the lead-in is rather seamless. The introduction of  Nara and Lorcan picks up a few months before they’ll meet in the first novel of the series. The readers learn about their personal histories and worldviews, as well as the historical climate of the time period.

Jardine provides some maps of the area, pronunciation guides for personal and place names to assist the reader, as well as an author's note at the end of the novel about the historical time period covered and the research done in order to approximate the lives of the people in the early first century of northern Britannia, about whom not much is actually known. These are quite interesting and helpful.

The syntax and diction of the novel are in keeping with the patterns established by previous authors writing about this time period. Granted no one knows how the people themselves spoke, but the style here suggests a time quite distant from the twenty-first century.

The pacing of the plot keeps the story moving along. The chapters alternate between Lorcan’s story line and Nara’s, so the reader goes back and forth between them as their stories develop to interweave in Book 1. The coverage is balanced and indicates everything is leading up to Beltane, as implied by the title. The story is enjoyable to read and certainly sparks curiosity regarding what comes next for these two characters.

There are a couple of grammatical or typographical errors as one nears the end of the novel. They’re not glaring but do cause one to stop and backtrack to determine if one misread or not. The history seems plausible; although, I am not an expert on this era. 

A light, enjoyable read, especially recommended for readers familiar with the series, but a good place to start for those who are not. 

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Dawn Lee
 e-version reviewed


  1. Thank you so much for the Discovering Diamonds Review! You highlight all the important aspects I intended to convey when I wrote the Prequel, Before Beltane. Your review is much appreciated and I send my thanks to the team.

    1. Thank you Nancy (apologies for delay in getting back to you - busy weekend!)


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