I can only describe this as a Celtic historical fantasy. Some of the characters such as Bridei, Broichan and King Drust are based on historical figure...moreI can only describe this as a Celtic historical fantasy. Some of the characters such as Bridei, Broichan and King Drust are based on historical figures of the 6th century. Add in elements of the Otherworld, and of course I'll love it! Juliet Marillier hasn't written a book yet I don't like. (less)
Currently about half way through this one. Thus far, it gets 4 stars from me. I don't know exactly what it is about Juliet Marillier's book, but they...moreCurrently about half way through this one. Thus far, it gets 4 stars from me. I don't know exactly what it is about Juliet Marillier's book, but they ALL resonate with me. I love her writing style. It's descriptive, rich and evocative without being overblown and pretentious. I identify with at least one character, and the same is true here. I find Eile's plight to be foreign and yet somehow still familiar, and I sympathize with her. Faolan's character just keeps getting deeper and more complex, moreso even than Bridei or Tuala's characters did in the previous two books in this series.
EDIT: Now that I've finished this one, I give it a full 5 stars. Again, I just really identify with Marillier's books. She creates characters I honestly care about. I think Faolan was my favorite character of the Bridei Chronicles, and so I was delighted to see that he got a whole book of his own. I also loved Eile. She's strong and broken, vulnerable and pragmatic. One of the best characters I've encountered yet. (less)
**spoiler alert** A retelling of the Celtic myth of the children of Llyr. Six brothers are turned into swans by their evil sorceress stepmother. The s...more**spoiler alert** A retelling of the Celtic myth of the children of Llyr. Six brothers are turned into swans by their evil sorceress stepmother. The seventh child, the girl Sorcha, escapes the curse. The Good Folk teach Sorcha how she can reverse the spell, but the cost is high and nearly impossible for a young girl to do on her own. I loved this story for the wonderful descriptive language, the creativity and originality of the rendition and the emphasis on the old gods.
EDIT 11/6/08: I'm re-reading this in review because I just got Marillier's new book in the Sevenwaters series, and it occurred to me that I can't remember most of the actual plot of the original trilogy, beyond "wow, it was awesome!"
EDIT 2, 11/12/08: I just finished this for maybe the 4th time. I've lost track. I still love it as much as the first time I read it. Possibly more. The complexities of Sorcha's experiences are so well written, multi-layered and intense. I like how Marillier doesn't gloss over the bad parts of her trial. It always bugs the shit out of me when people seem to expect everything to be all hearts and flowers, and still have the same outcome. Right. Life experience, much? Sorcha's rape went to show the strength of her will to save her brothers, for she didn't utter a peep, even though she was horribly abused. When John died, her friend, she was silent. When she was nearly burned at the stake, she was silent. All these horrible things happened and she maintained her silence through sheer force of will out of devotion and love of her brothers and her determination to save them. It makes it that much more intense when she does finally break her silence to save Red, even though she thought it meant she lost her brothers as a result. It shows how very much she loves him, even though she didn't realize it herself at the time. So yes, I like that the bad was shown as well as the good, because without the one, you can't appreciate the other. Without the full range of emotions and experiences Sorcha endured, she would not have been able to grow enough to fulfill her task, save her brothers and love Red. It would have been for nothing, a complete waste, and that is far worse than anything else she went through. (less)
**spoiler alert** This is the second time I've read this book. I didn't remember much about it from the first time, and was pleased. This story picks...more**spoiler alert** This is the second time I've read this book. I didn't remember much about it from the first time, and was pleased. This story picks up about 18 years after Daughter of the Forest left off. Its narrator is Liadan, the youngest of the three children of Sorcha and Red. I was pleased with the continuation of the story, but this was also vastly different. It was tied to the first, but in no way utterly dependent on it. This is very much its own story, Liadan's story, and is a wonderful tale of love and danger.
As with Daughter of the Forest, this book highlights the strength of the women of Sevenwaters. Where Sorcha's tale focused mainly on her love for her brothers, and falling in love with Red was a side effect of her trials, Son of the Shadows was the story of Liadan's love of Bran, the Painted Man, and the tribulations she endured to save her lover. While they started out as adversaries, as with so many other tales of spectacular love, they drew on each other's strength, and it was Liadan's strength alone that helped Bran overcome his heartbreaking past and learn to embrace his life and a future.
The plot wasn't as complex, in my opinion, as Daughter of the Forest, but you can still empathize with Liadan. Marillier makes it very easy to identify with her, for who hasn't felt the same fears and hopes in a relationship as Liadan? The frustration, the worry, the waiting and the love are all things most people who have experienced an adult relationship are familiar with.
I also especially related to Liadan and her decision to bear her child alone, without the father present. It was another mechanism to show her strength of will, of character and of love. Her family, with the exception of her mother, would have had revenge for what they thought was her rape at the hands of an outlaw. Only the woman was able to listen and see Liadan's situation for what it was, an act of love, and, as Liadan herself confirmed, the child was conceived in joy.
I love, too, how Bran shows his own strength of character by allowing himself to trust. He had little reason to open himself to trusting anyone, but he did. He trusted his men, Liadan and eventually Red, and he ended up with a future brighter than he could have imagined. He overcame, with great difficulty in some cases, his tortured past and made a conscious effort to remake himself into someone he thought would be worthy of Liadan, despite the fact that she loved him as he was.
Overall, I think this was a tale of unconditional love, of the power of one's will to overcome great adversity, and inner strength to set the foot on a path that is bound to be difficult, but ultimately worthy of following. (less)
A lovely fantasy featuring strong female characters and lots of goddess worship. All of Kate Forsyth's books are wonderfully written and very goddess...moreA lovely fantasy featuring strong female characters and lots of goddess worship. All of Kate Forsyth's books are wonderfully written and very goddess-oriented in one way or another. (less)
Starhawk's masterful work was one of the first books I ever read on Wicca. It covers a range of important Wiccan beliefs and origins, how it has evolv...moreStarhawk's masterful work was one of the first books I ever read on Wicca. It covers a range of important Wiccan beliefs and origins, how it has evolved over the last 20 years. (less)
I'm sad there are only five stars possible. Maybe this sounds silly, but this was actually a life-changing book for me. I read it for the first time w...moreI'm sad there are only five stars possible. Maybe this sounds silly, but this was actually a life-changing book for me. I read it for the first time when I was about 12, and it was the very first time I learned there was ever such a thing as goddess worship. It literally introduced me to Wicca, although at the time I didn't know it. I read it because I have always loved Arthurian legend, but I love it because of the beautiful female characters, the imagery, the description of the old religion. Even Gwenhwyfar is a strong character in her way. Morgaine and Viviane are both formidable and wise. After reading this, all other Arthurian legends, including Malory, seem incorrect to me! (less)
Been a while since I read this one, actually, but I enjoyed the Viking culture Marillier brought to life. How accurate it was might be debatable, but...moreBeen a while since I read this one, actually, but I enjoyed the Viking culture Marillier brought to life. How accurate it was might be debatable, but I read it for pleasure anyway. I do think she did a good job with getting most of it right, though. The Light Isles and the people on them I think are fictionalized for the most part, since I am not aware of much documented history on the early Pictish people who lived there. But the element of fiction and fantasy are really what make her books so wonderful to me. We don't know for sure, so she comes up with delightful details and it doesn't matter if it's accurate or not. (less)
**spoiler alert** This was a great book, although beyond a few brief references to Avalon, I don't really see that it had much to do with Marion Zimme...more**spoiler alert** This was a great book, although beyond a few brief references to Avalon, I don't really see that it had much to do with Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon at all. There were some familiar things, such as the priestesses wearing blue robes and having the crescent tattoo on their foreheads. But mostly, this was an historical-fantasy about Queen Boudica. And I'm good with that.
So much about Boudica has been mythologized that it doesn't seem unrealistic that she could have had some education with the Druids on Mona or elsewhere in the British Isles. The dates of her rebellion and the slaughter of the Druids at Mona are contemporary, so I like that there could be a connection between them. What we do know about her largely comes from the Roman historians Tacitus and Dio. We should take much of what they say with a grain of salt, for the Romans had a pretty hard core anti-Druid bias, even ones as relatively open minded as Tacitus was. They may not have understood the Celtic and Druidic cultures very well, either, so I'm sure there are things we think we know that are just totally wrong.
I say this because I am rationalizing the end of the book. Tacitus and Dio both state that Boudica and her daughters committed suicide. I think, however, it could be entirely possible that Boudica's daughters survived, but went into hiding. It would be foolish of them to declare that they survived since it would literally have gained them nothing. Rome won in the end and they knew it, so it would have been wise of them just to live a quiet life after the rebellion. I can easily believe that Boudica herself committed suicide, since she was a figurehead for the rebellion and if captured, would have been dragged through the streets of Rome in chains before likely being thrown to wild animals in the Colisseum. I would have preferred death as well. Also, if she truly made the Sacred Marriage to the land, her deathwould have been expected as part of her duty. But maybe her daughter(s) lived and had children. I like to think that some part of me could be a descendant of the great queen.
I definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, historical fantasy, or any example, no matter how unrealistic, of the Celts kicking Rome's ass. It's even better if the Celt is a woman. =)(less)
**spoiler alert** This was a great little book. It was a fast read, easy but not simplistic.
Nell is the granddaughter of the local midwife/cunning wo...more**spoiler alert** This was a great little book. It was a fast read, easy but not simplistic.
Nell is the granddaughter of the local midwife/cunning woman, and is also a Merrybegot, a baby conceived at one of the pagan fire festivals. She lives with her granny in a small English village in the 1640s. Whoops. Not the best time to be an herb mistress.
The minister, a foul, unpleasant and generally despicable man, has two daughters who are horrible each in her own way. Grace, and the younger, Patience, plot to make the townfolk think they've been cursed by Nell and her granny to cover up the fact that Grace got herself knocked up and to cast the blame elsewhere. Typical.
The plot is straightforward--Nell and her granny live simply and peacefully, practicing the old ways in secret, protected by the piskies because Nell is a Merrybegot and thus special to all nature. In come the new minister and daughters with their unbending and intolerant ways and shatter everything. They turn the village against Nell and Granny with the exception of Mistress Bramstow, a brave and honorable woman who won't let mass hysteria and stupidity sway her.
For a teen book, I thought it went surprisingly in depth with some of the characters. The author did a good job capturing the utter frustration and helpless fury many good people must have felt during the witch craze. I was furious at Grace for being a horrible, evil girl, but I think I was even more angry at Patience. She was stupid and naive since she was just a child, but she KNEW what was right and wrong, and chose to do nothing about it. She could have stopped the whole thing at the start and didn't because she was totally cowed by her sister and father. How many times this scenario must have played out during the witch craze! :(
Nell's story turned out a little better than thousands of other similar stories, but she didn't emerge unscathed. The fact that she wanted still to be a healer and midwife is, to me, a sign of what a pure and good person she is. I would have a hard time wanting to help anyone after going through what she had, all for naught.
All that said, I still didn't start crying until the stupid chicken at the end went back to the cottage. That got me bawling like a baby. Poor stupid chicken.
I know little about Edward II so I couldn't say how well his character was portrayed. But ultimately it doesn't matter if it was accurate or not. All that matters is that in this book, he was a wonderful, brave lad.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, Wicca, or faerie tales. Like I said, it was a fast, easy read but was in no way simplistic or silly. (less)
I think this book was at least as good as Daughter of the Forest, although in a somewhat different way. DotF was, as I've noted in that review, a tale...moreI think this book was at least as good as Daughter of the Forest, although in a somewhat different way. DotF was, as I've noted in that review, a tale of the strength of love for family, of good overcoming evil even when it is at great cost, and of love found along the way. Child of the Prophecy is, I think, a book about learning to love oneself, that it doesn't matter how many people might love you because it is all lost if you don't have that inner core of strength and self-love.
CotP is most definitely a tale of a girl's struggle to find her identity, to figure out what she stands for, and her sacrifice to do what she knows is right despite the horrific cost to herself. Fainne is, in my opinion, probably the most believable of the characters in the three books. She is conflicted and scared, manipulated and manipulating, by turns overly innocent and surprisingly wise. She has otherworldly abilities like many of the other characters who have gone before her, but unlike them, she seems entirely earthly. I think her own doubt about her nature gives her that groundedness, because her insecurities make her feel inadequate and as a result, she doesn't trust those very otherworldly abilities that were almost taken for granted by Sorcha and Liadan. Those women were both completely aware of who they were and what they thought their roles in life were. They had no crises of identity like Fainne, so we never really had the same experience of seeing them decide who they were, as we do with Fainne.
This is also a tale of personal accountability. Throughout, Fainne is coerced to do some terrible things, and she does her best to make amends, to right the wrongs that she caused. She pays a huge price and does so willingly in atonement.
Darragh is, aside from Conor and Finbar, my favorite male character. I don't really get his somewhat slavish devotion to Fainne considering all she put him through, but he is an admirable character and any woman would be lucky to have a man like him. He is clever, well rounded, and brave. He can be a fighter when needed, but his preference is to be gentle and loving with all things.
As always, Marillier delivered another exceptional novel and I'd highly recommend this, along with the other 2 previous books, to anyone who enjoys fantasy, Irish myth, paganism/Druidis, and rich, complex characters. (less)
**spoiler alert** EDIT: I just reread this and enjoyed it much more than I apparently did the first time. I say apparently because, oddly, I have abso...more**spoiler alert** EDIT: I just reread this and enjoyed it much more than I apparently did the first time. I say apparently because, oddly, I have absolutely no recollection of reading this book previously. That almost never happens to me. Once I read a story, I tend to remember them. Anyway, I definitely liked this a great deal. I am also stoked about reading the next book in the Sevenwaters series as well as the new book Marillier has coming out this fall!
**Old review** As far as Juliet Marillier's books go, this was fairly sub-standard. While the previous three Sevenwaters books had a similar trait--the sheltered young woman leaves home for various reasons and falls in love with a young man who would otherwise be completely unacceptable were it not for his honor/loyalty/save something at the last minute--this one was too formulaic. I think Marillier can do much better. That said, this was still a wonderful book and Marillier is a better writer than many out there.
I did like that this one was more "Otherworldly" than the others. The others all had elements of the Otherworld, this one was largely set in the land of Faerie. It was a much darker book than many of Marillier's usual, which I really liked, actually. Yes, the lovers still end up married happily, but there is a shadow hanging over them. There is ample room for another Sevenwaters book, and I do hope that it Marillier's intent. I still enjoy her writing immensely, even when I think she could do better, as here.
Anyway, I also liked that Clodagh was not a typical heroine. In fact, she was nothing more than a girl who was more than capable of running a large household, not much more, as was noted more than once throughout the book. But she overcomes her fears and self doubt to save her lover at great personal risk. In that regard, she is typical of the female hero. But she didn't have the same sense of confidence that the three previous women had. Even Fainne, in Child of the Prophecy had a bit more confidence. Clodagh knew what she had to do and didn't hesitate to do it, but she had fears the whole time. In that regard, she was probably more realistic than any of the others, including Fainne.
At the end of the day, this was a book about selfless love, many, many different kinds. It would be good book for younger readers as well as adults. It can stand alone from the other Sevenwaters books, which is nice. Everything that is mentioned from the other books is easily explained in a way that's not annoying for those who've read the previous books but is sufficient for those who haven't to understand what's happening.
Overall, this is still a very good book, and I would recommend it to fantasy fans. (less)