Written by Traci Harding
Read by Edwina Wren
Late one evening, en route to visit a relative, an accident leaves Tory - the attractive, twenty-something daughter of a prominent history professor - stranded near a ring of stones in Britain. Tory resolves to spend the night at the stone circle and seek help in the morning.... But across the vortex of time and space, she is taken back to the Dark Age. There she meets Prince Maelgwn of Gwynedd and his band of warriors. Initially her 'strange' appearance frightens them and they believe she is the notorious witch fabled to frequent the site. But she overcomes their fear and soon the tales of her adventures, brave deeds, and beauty spread across the land.
I have to confess I was very surprised to come across an Audible version of this book as I’ve had trouble getting hold of any of Traci Harding books outside Australasia. I read this book originally about five years while travelling and loved the mixture of adventure, romance, time travel and philosophy that the story covered, so I thought I would give the audible version a spin as well. The story starts out as deceptively simple and easy to follow but gets more complex and layered as it progresses and introduces more characters, more ideas and more magic. Tory is an Australian visiting her aunt in Britain when her car breaks down. She decides to spend the night in a circle of fairy stones (as you do!) and ends up transported back to the 6th century, where magic is still common place. She ends up teaming up with Prince Maelgwn and using her knowledge of Tae Kwon Do to capture the hearts and minds of the 6th century lords.
Tory is a great heroine even if she is pretty much perfect at everything. She can speak ancient Welsh (lucky considering where she finds herself!), is an expert at Tae Kwon Do and mediation techniques, can play the saxophone and is generous person who welcomes everyone and want equality for all. However, you just can’t help liking her – hoping to be like her. Her developing relationship with Maelgwn is very sweet and will satisfy most romantics. Maelgwn himself is extremely likeable with a streak of jealousy that stops him from being completely perfect – but makes him human. There are a number of characters that stand out with Brockwell particularly being memorable as he has one of the most character developments over the course of the story. Katrin seems more than adequate foil for him.
There are a couple of elements that gets a little annoying while listening though. The strange mix of modern phrases mingles with ‘ancient welsh’ speak sounds really odd. “Thou art breaking my heart” for example, just sounds wrong when you listen to it. Although I must confess it never bothered me when I was reading it. It frustrated me as it meant I was pulled out of the story. However, overall the narration is passionate and does a good job at conveying the tone and element of the plot – once you get used to the Australian accent. J
For me this is really one of those stories that you get swept up in. I started it thinking, it’s alright, but by the end I really wanted to start on the next book in the trilogy (which sadly isn’t available in the UK on audio). It has something for everyone and even manages to get you thinking about how to think about some of the greater mysteries of life – what’s the meaning of life, etc? But most of the time, it’s just a lot of fun. Hell, I just want to be Tory!
Recommended for fans of PC Cast and Rachel Aaron. 8 out of 10