Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Post by Linnea Tanner, Author Skull’s Vengeance (Book 4 Curse of Clansmen and Kings series)

10 November 2022

Special Guest Post by Linnea Tanner, Author Skull’s Vengeance (Book 4 Curse of Clansmen and Kings series)

New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

A Celtic warrior queen must do the impossible—defeat her sorcerer half-brother and claim the throne. But to do so, she must learn how to strike vengeance from her father’s skull.

Research behind the Novel, Skull’s Vengeance

Skull’s Vengeance (Book 4 Curse of Clansmen and Kings series) is a historical fantasy based on a blend of history and mythology of southeast Celtic tribes in Britain before the invasion of the Roman Emperor Claudius in 43 AD. The biggest challenge in researching this project is the Celts left almost no written records. Historical events had to be supplanted by Greek and Roman historians and medieval writers who spun Celtic mythology into their Christian beliefs. Archaeological findings from this time period also help fill in some of the gaps.

The political backdrop to Skull’s Vengeance is based on the Celtic tribal kingdoms in southeast Britain known as Britannia by the Romans. These kingdoms evolved differently than those in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. After Julius Caesar’s military expeditions to this area in 55–54 BC, Rome maintained strong influence over the politics and trade in southeast Britain.  Rome demanded hostages from this region to ensure treaty agreements were met. Hostages were frequently young males, although taking females was not unheard of, and they came from royal families. 

They were allowed to move freely in public places with minimal security measures to prevent their escape. The Roman patrician watching over them could serve as patron, father, and teacher. Many of the first century British rulers were educated in Rome and adopted the Roman taste for luxury goods. To support their extravagant lifestyles, pro-Roman kings warred with other tribal territories to supply the Roman Empire with slaves. Powerful Celtic kings expanded their territories and minted coins.

Although there is no written account of any Roman expeditionary forces sent to Britain before Claudius’s invasion in 43 A.D., there are recorded incidents of pro-Roman rulers pleading for Rome’s help to intervene on their behalf. Client kings, paying tribute to Rome, could rule their kingdoms independently, similar to Cleopatra’s reign in Egypt. 

Although the Celtic society was becoming more paternalistic, women were still held in high regard and could rule. There is historical evidence that Celtic women fought in battles and took on military leadership. The Roman historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, described Celtic wom¬en in Gaul (modern day France) as “…usually strong and with blue eyes; especially when, swelling her neck, gnashing her teeth, and brandishing her sallow arms of enormous size, she begins to strike blows mingled with kicks, as if they were so many missiles sent from the string of the catapult.”

The Roman historian, Tacticus, writes the British were accustomed to women commanders in war. Boudicca was a warrior queen who united the Celtic tribes in Britain and almost expelled their Roman conquerors in 61 AD. She was also known as a powerful druidess who Romans claimed sacrificed some of her victims to the war goddess Andaste.

Statue of Boudicca (Wikimedia Commons)

Archaeological evidence supports that Claudius’s invasion was nothing more than a peace-keeping mission to halt the expansion of the anti-Roman factions led by Cunobelin’s sons, Caratacus and Togodumnus. There may have already been a Roman military presence that protected the areas of Britain vital to trading with the empire. The tribal names used in the novel are based on Ptolemy’s map of Celtic kingdoms generated in 150 AD.

Most of the Celtic characters in this novel are fictional except for Cunobelin, King of the Catuvellauni (referred to as the King of Britannia by the Romans), and his sons, Adminius and Caratacus. Based on coin distribution, Adminius ruled over the Cantiaci but was deposed in 39 or 40 AD. His fall may have been the result of a revolt of the Cantiaci people against the Catuvellauni rule. He fled to continental Europe and surrendered to Emperor Caligula, who falsely heralded this as a great victory over Britannia. Epaticcus, the brother of Cunobelin and the ruler of the Atrebates Tribe at Calleva (modern-day Silchester), is another historical figure introduced in this book.

The characterization of Catrin is based on historical figures such as Boudicca and on the complex archetypes of ancient Celtic goddesses whose functions embrace the entire religious spectrum from healing to warfare, from creation to destruction, and from birth to death. In Irish mythology, war goddesses were associated with fertility and sovereignty. Many of the Irish goddesses were destructive and promiscuous, and personified warlike strength to defend their land so it could flourish.

Though many of the Roman characters are fictional in Skull’s Vengeance, some are some based on historical figures during the tumultuous rein of Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus. Tiberius was the second emperor of Rome. Though he’d been an able general and diplomat, his final years as emperor were tyrannical. Rumors abound of his sexual perversity and child molestation. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Tiberius loathed his mother and sent Caligula to deliver her funeral oration in 29 A.D. while he remained isolated on Capri. 

Statue of Tiberius (Wikimedia Commons)

During the period that Skull’s Vengeance takes place (27-28 AD), the infamous Praetorian Prefect, Lucius Aelius Sejanus, over-reached to gain power from Tiberius through murder, conspiracy, and betrayal. At the pinnacle of Sejanus’s power as consul in 31 A.D., Tiberius unexpectedly had him arrested and mercilessly executed. It came to light that Sejanus may have been involved in the conspiracy to poison Tiberius’s son in 23 AD.

Antonia Minor is another character introduced in the novel. She was the daughter of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) and Octavia, the sister-in-law of Tiberius, and the half-sister of Iullus Antonius. As a confidant to Tiberius, Antonia Minor may have had a role in the downfall of Sejanus due to her fears that her grandson, Caligula, could meet the tragic fate of his older brothers who Sejanus arrested and imprisoned. 

Bust of Antonia Minor (Wikimedia Commons)

Lucius Antonius was the son of Iullus Antonius and the grandson of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony). Little is known about Lucius Antonius except that he lived in Gaul after his father, Iullus Antonius, was accused of treason and forced to fall on his sword. It is unclear whether Lucius had any children, but it is speculated he may have been the father or grandfather of the famous Roman general Marcus Antonius Primus, who was born around 30 AD. One of the burning questions I had during my research is how would Lucius react if his son (Marcellus) went down the same pathway as his forefathers who were brought down because of their liaisons with powerful women?

Linnea Tanner

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About the Author

Award-winning Author Linnea Tanner weaves Celtic tales of love, magic, adventure, betrayal, and intrigue into historical fiction set in Ancient Rome and Britannia. Since childhood, she has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology which held women in higher esteem. Of particular interest are the enigmatic Celts who were reputed as fierce warriors and mystical Druids. Linnea has extensively researched ancient and medieval history, mythology, and archaeology and has traveled to sites described within each of her books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. Books released in her series include Apollo’s Raven (Book 1), Dagger’s Destiny (Book 2), and Amulet’s Rapture (Book 3). Skull’s Vengeance (Book 4 Curse of Clansmen and Kings) is anticipated to be released in late October 2022. A Colorado native, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren. To learn more about the author and her books, you can visit her website and find her on Twitter @linneatanner


  1. Thank you so much for hosting today's tour stop for Skull’s Vengeance.
    All the best,
    Mary Anne
    The Coffee Pot Book Club

  2. Thank you, Tony, for hosting Day 9 of the blog tour of Skull's Vengeance. Your support of me is greatly appreciated.


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