In addition to introducing the reader to life in the British Isles in the first century b.c., The Stronghold explores a number of important themes, such as the value of imagination, the nature of true loyalty, the importance of the individual (as opposed to honor gained through battle), and the destructive nature of power. The novel’s protagonist, Coll, lives in a society in which physical strength and beauty appear to be valued more than intelligence or artistic imagination. Because Coll is lame in one leg, he is sometimes ignored and, it appears, is not seen as a serious suitor for Fand, one of the chief’s daughters. When Coll attempts to share his ideas about the Stronghold, no one is willing to listen until he proves himself by saving Fand’s life. Yet, it is Coll’s ideas that save the tribe, bringing together two enemies, Nectan and Domnall. The book clearly suggests that through using one’s imagination and intelligence, it is possible to triumph over disabilities, although not without a struggle. This theme is further reinforced when the Boar use stratagem to make the Romans think that they are vulnerable after they have been attacked.
One of the attributes that helps Coll along the way is his sense of loyalty to his chief and adoptive father, Nectan. Unlike the traitorous Taran, Coll is loyal to his tribe, ultimately willing to risk his life to save those he loves. In addition, it is Bran’s familial...
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