Today, I’m happy to share with you a book review from my local paper, the East Oregonian.  I’d leave the link, but only subscribers can read it, so I thought it would be fun to share it with you in full …

Book Review of the After Cilmeri Series

by Renee Struthers

Pendleton author Sarah Woodbury has been living for the past several years in 13th century Wales — in her mind, at least.

Her five-volume “After Cilmeri” series, self-published in 2011 and 2012, follows Marged Lloyd and her children across time to medieval Wales, where they change the life of Llywelyn, the last Prince of Wales, and the history of Great Britain in a world parallel to our own.

The series is classed as romantic historical fiction, but these stories aren’t the bodice-rippers that generally come to mind with that genre. The books are suitable for teens as well as adults. Love stories abound, of course, but each of these books is also a history lesson on the realities of life and the political climate of the 13th century. Sex is alluded to instead of being a central theme, and while people do die (quite a few people, in fact) the violence is not gory or gratuitous.

Wales, at just about 150 miles long and about 50 miles wide, is a tiny region that has long been difficult to conquer and hold due to the rugged terrain and the rebellious nature of its inhabitants. A large part of the storyline is Llywelyn’s difficulty in holding on to his own land, forever betrayed by the Norman lords who hold the Marche, a no-man’s land between Wales and England, and his own people seeking wealth and power by colluding with them — including his own brother.

I must admit the continual backstabbing (both literal and figurative) and riding the length and breadth of Wales either defending castles or escaping from capture left me exhausted, but also kept me glued to the story. When almost every character is a potential traitor, new twists are always around the corner and the fortunes of a nation can turn on a dime.

Can a 14-year-old boy from 21st century Pennsylvania overcome centuries of strife and forge unlikely bonds between mortal enemies? Can three headstrong, independent modern women be a force for change in a time when women were, more often than not, seen and not heard? And will the legendary King Arthur return to recreate a united Britain? In an alternate world where Llywelyn survives the attempt on his life that vanquished Wales as a nation for more than 700 years, anything is possible.

My only gripe with the series is that, at the end of the last book, I said to myself, “Wait a minute — things were just getting rolling!” Woodbury assures me that new books with fresh storylines are already in the works.

Sarah Woodbury received a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Washington in 1995. In addition to the “After Cilmeri” series she has written several other works of historical fiction and fantasy, with sales over 100,000 in the last two years. All her work is available at Amazon.com (both as printed books and ebooks), Barnes and Noble, iTunes and everywhere ebooks are sold, or you may contact her via her website, www.sarahwoodbury.com.