I looked forward to these novels, in the hope that they’d tell the definitive Boudica story, unlike previous versions I’d read, which (except for Rosemary Sutcliff’s excellent children’s novel, Song for a Dark Queen), were either trite romances or shallow sub-erotic adventure tomes. Alas, Scott’s Boudica hasn’t so far lived up to my expectations, although I confess there’s something weirdly compelling about its awfulness.
Like the first two novels (Dreaming the Eagle and Dreaming the Bull), Dreaming the Hound is something of a curate’s egg, in my opinion, though there are rather more good parts in it than in the previous volumes. The final volume, Dreaming the Serpent Spear, is published in February 2006. I’m not hopeful about this as I have difficulty taking seriously any novel with the word serpent in the title. However, I shall do my best to overcome my snaky prejudice.
everything she’d learned to such good effect in the thrillers.
The net result is a bloated adolescent fantasy in which her obsession with something called “shamanic dreaming” repeatedly bogs down both story and character, so that these essential elements are never satisfactorily developed. The quartet begins in Boudica’s childhood but the story doesn’t get into its stride until Scott picks up the main Tacitus narrative about halfway through Dreaming the Hound. That’s too late for me, Manda. I’m bored already, and skipping chunks. There are slabs of fine, evocative writing, ex-vet Scott knows her animal stuff and there are the requisite amounts of authentic-seeming blood and gore. But the dialogue is risibly portentous throughout and everybody takes themselves far too seriously ALL THE TIME. The only laughs are unintentional, e.g. the cackling toothless crones who drone on in pointless riddles, the dancing-with-bears scene in Dreaming the Eagle, and the general knockabout nastiness of those rotten Romans.