Wales, the 12th Century: As told by Brenda, a mistress of Owain, the Prince of Wales, the court of Gwynedd faces the threat of amalgamation by the English realm and the Christian religion. Afraid of a fateful prophecy about her newborn son, Brenda flees Owain and Wales for the safety of a druid camp in Ireland. Comforted by their spiritual beliefs and the handsome Sein, Brenda begins to adapt to druid ways and to study druid knowledge. But when Owain's men recapture her, she claims that her son Madoc has died and reluctantly returns to court. Disgusted with Owain's bloodlust and the rivalry among his mistresses and sons, Brenda dreams of the day she'll return to her son and the druid community. But Madoc is fostered to a local druid teacher, just as the danger of external invasion and internal betrayal threaten Owain's power. Brenda fears the disintegration of Gwynedd's stability and the loss of the druid values, and finds her fate closely bound to her old lover and her secret son.
Anna Lee Waldo's extensive research, rich details, and skillful writing make this medieval Welsh world of family betrayals, political intrigue, battling religious faiths, and unrequited love spring to life. Like Clavell's Shogun or Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, Circle of Stones describes a historical period with an understanding that highlights the timeless aspects of human nature. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien [via]