This is a review of “The Keeping Place”, the fourth book of Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Series. It follows on from “Ashling“.
As Elspeth waits for her inevitable summons to leave Obernewtyn and begin her quest to rid the world of weapon-machines, she finds herself to be a crucial and valued member of Obernewtyn. Rushton has left Obernewtyn in her care while he attends to pressing matters in the Lowlands.
The ever curious Teknoguilders (Scientists and Archaeologists of their time) have discovered the Beforetime activity of diving. They send their own divers below the swirling waters that surround a ruined city located beneath an old mountain, to investigate the remains submerged in the waters. They search for artefacts of the past, but something else entirely awaits them down below.
Meanwhile, Misfits at Obernewtyn are suffering from disturbing and recurring dreams in which a huge, winged, reptilian beast stalks and swoops at them. Many dream of the beast, and Elspeth is curious as to what these dreams could mean.
Elspeth, with the help of Maruman, takes to the ethereal and dangerous Dreamtrails to gain insight into the beast and to uncover a clue for her quest left to her by a Seer of the past. But with the beast stalking her dreams, the trails are a frightening place.
As the days pass and Rushton does not return from his trip, Elspeth becomes increasingly worried. Eventually, a note is found on a dead homing bird that reads that Rushton has been taken captive and will not be released, unless the Misfits provide aid to the Rebels in the forthcoming Rebellion.
Elspeth meets with the Rebels, only to become more confused as it appears that none of them know about Rushton’s disappearance. Fearing for Rushton, Elspeth commits to providing limited assistance to the Rebel force. She stipulates that the Misfits will not willingly engage in violence, and are only offering their aid to prevent needless bloodshed.
The Rebellion proceeds in a confusing way. There are gains and there are losses, victories and betrayals, happiness and sorrow. Will Elspeth find Rushton? Where have the Herder Priests disappeared to? And will the beast that haunts their dreams ever be dissuaded?
An interesting book, full of reflections on humanity, technology and animal rights- Carmody makes us think!
In this book we learn more about Obernewtyn, how it is run, and how hard it will be for Elspeth to leave it all behind. Finding the courage to stand up for themselves, and to do the right thing has never before been so hard for the Misfits.