Songwoman by Ilka Tampke (Skin#2)

‘I had a title to bear.  I had a war to win.’

Set in Iron-Age Britain, Ailia of Caer Cad has been in a self-imposed exile since her village was destroyed by the Romans.  But she realises that she has a role to play if the free tribes of Albion are to resist the Roman attack and retain their ties to the land.  Ailia is the Kendra of Albion, and after ending her exile, she seeks out the chieftain Caradog.

Ailia arrives at Llanmelin as a Journeywoman, but her minimal training with the Mothers has not equipped her to handle Caradog’s Journeyman, Prydd.  Prydd barely tolerates Ailia, while Caradog is not initially interested in her advice.  But when Ailia hears Caradog’s Songman, Rhain, she realises that she may have more influence as a Songwoman.

‘Whatever story we remember will determine what endures.  This is your purpose.  There is no other.’

Those of us who studied history know how this will end in fact, but in this fiction, I was free to dream.  Ailia has difficult choices to make.  With a touch of fantasy, Ms Tampke brings Iron-Age Britain to life.  I was swept up in the story and have added ‘Skin’ to my reading list.

‘They could not take our songs.’

Recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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