Lioslaith-Last of the Painted OnesBy George C. Myles
Book Review-253 pages
S. Marie Vernon
Pacific Book Review –5-30-2013
Lioslaith Last of the Painted Ones Book One, by author George C. Myles, is an adventurous, historical fiction set in 9th Century Scotland during its dark age: a critical period, after the Romans and just before the Viking invasions. Despite their fierce fighting ability and battle-hard warriors, the Pict’s thousand year reign is coming to a close and their traditions are challenged by new influences including a new religion of the cross. Lioslaith, the story’s main character, is a young girl coming of age who rebels against all that is new, embracing instead the old ways of her people and their tradition of full body tattooing. It’s called scarification. Through Lioslaith, and other characters like Bre and Erca, the author challenges us to think of the Pict people as more than barbarians in spite of their bloody battles, lust, and constant struggle for power and revenge. Some adult language classes this novel for mature audiences only.
The Norsemen have raided Northumbria and are moving quickly to overtake the powerful Pictland kingdom of Fortriu and the Gael mainland of Dalraida. The Viking craving for fertile land seems insatiable and their efficient long ships might be able to sail right into the mainland through the mouth of the River Dee. To stop the terror, the Pict King Oengus allies with the Scoti, A’ed mac Boanta, who is the Vassal King of Dalraida. Former enemies, they form an alliance and develop a plan to attack and annihilate the cruel Vikings. The brutality of the age is unthinkable, yet this story is laced with romantic encounters, love, and the hope of love, supposing for us a civilization of human beings struggling to survive and find some happiness and meaning in their existence. Love and the human spirit are constantly tested as lovers and families face bloody warfare, treachery and betrayal.
The author, George C. Myles, uses descriptive writing and, both, third person and first person narrative to tell the story of Lioslaith. He expresses three viewpoints within the book: that of the Picts, the Gaels and that of the Vikings. To keep the storyline straight, he has included a character list at the front of the book. While each of these nations has many formidable characters, they also have likable characters that are simple and have honor and integrity. Even the Viking warlord, Fafnir Hognison, shows loyalty to his wife and restraint and compassion for the young slave woman, Malmury. The author achieves his objective of honoring the Picts as, high-spirited people, determined to defeat their enemies in order to protect their land, their culture and their traditions. We might ask ourselves were they really so different than we might be, given human nature and their circumstances? Even as Lioslaith embraces her destiny; a destiny she did not expect, she carries part of her past and family traditions with her as they are etched into her skin. Lioslaith descends from Pict nobility and is the Last of the Painted Ones in this Book One. She wears her designs proudly into her future and makes one wonder what she might accomplish in the sequel that will be forthcoming from author George C. Myles. Lioslaith book one is an easier read than it originally appears. Romantics and lovers of ancient history, and historical fiction will enjoy this book and thirst for book two.