Tag Archives: Juliet Marillier

Foxmask

This is a review of “Foxmask” by Juliet Marillier. It is the second book in The Saga of The Light Isles. It follows on from “Wolfskin“.

Creidhe is a young girl living in The Light Isles with her family. She’s the daughter of Wolfskin Viking warrior Eyvind and priestess Nessa of the folk (Wolskin). She is something of a domestic Goddess, with her quick and clever hands and extensive cooking and embroidery skills. She is best friend to Thorvald, son of Margaret.

Thorvald is a quiet and thoughtful boy with few real friends. He has an intense and withdrawn manner that keeps most people away. After keeping a secret from him since birth, Margaret deems Thorvald a man and shares with him the true identity of his father. She tells him that he is the son of Somerled, a man who was long since banished from The Light Isles for his evil doings. Thorvald, hurt and upset, sets out on a quest to find his father. He takes with him his Fisherman friend Sam, and Sam’s fine boat. Unbeknownst to both, Creidhe has stowed away.

While at sea, a storm blows them into a region known as The Lost Isles. After landing they find this place is a dark and forboding settlement, filled with grim and tight-lipped folk. Creidhe is separated from the boys and dwells among the women of The Lost Isles. It seems the men are at war, but no one is telling Creidhe anything. She sets about to live as close to normal as possible among the strange, quiet women. She attends a woman giving birth, using her prized midwifing skills to deliver the baby safely. But soon after the birth, an eerie singing begins. A singing that sets a chill in the bones and a dread in the heart. When the singing stops the infant is dead. It becomes clear to Creidhe that the enemy the men face is like no other she has ever heard of.

Thorvald and Sam find themselves in the men’s camp, where the men of The Lost Isles are readying for battle. A yearly battle that is undertaken amd referred to only as: ‘The Hunt’. But what are they hunting for? And why is the hunt held on the mysterious Isle of Clouds? What will be the reward for locating the prize? Thorvald sets out to find these answers, but the men are just as tight-lipped as the women. And who is Thorvald’s father? Is it The Leader of The Lost Isles? The intimidating and threatening Asgrim? Or has Thorvald failed in his search to find his father?

And what of the Christian monks dwelling on The Lost Isles? Why does one of their number carry with him a concealed and deadly knife? And what is the meaning behind their cryptic warnings to young Creidhe?

An excellent and touching book. A couple of times throughout this story I found my heart twisted by Marillier’s beautiful prose. She sure knows how to convey strong emotion. I love the snippets of writing at each chapter’s beginning. It was a joy to follow each character’s development and journey to self-discovery. I enjoyed this novel immensely.

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Heir to Sevenwaters

This is a review of “Heir to Sevenwaters” by Juliet Marillier. It is the fourth novel in The Sevenwaters Trilogy. It follows on from “Child of the Prophecy“.

Clodagh is the daughter of Sean and Aisling (“Son of Shadows“). She is twin to Deidre and is considered to be something of a homebody. When her mother becomes pregnant again, she does all she can to help out around the house. Her mother desperately wants the baby to be a boy. Clodagh becomes increasingly worried as the pregnancy progresses as her mother is well past the age of safe childbearing.

Deirdre is getting married. With her mother so preoccupied, much of the responsibilities fall to Clodagh, who is more than capable. A band of her cousin’s warriors travel to Sevenwaters on the eve of the wedding. Among them is a young man she’s had her sights set on for some time; Aidan.

Her brother is born after a hard birth. But soon it is discovered he has been taken, and in his place a crude effigy of an infant, made of sticks has been left. Who could do such a thing? The entire household is enraged and a search for the missing baby begins immediately. But Clodagh can hear a baby crying, when no one else can. And she can see a small, squalling baby fashioned from twigs and bark…

Conall is a warrior, he was trained on the island run by Johnny and his father Bran, the painted man. He is best friend to Aidan and is a mysterious and brooding young man, but a highly skilled fighter. At first meeting, Clodagh and Conall take a dislike to one another. But Conall can hear the baby too…

The rest of the household cannot “hear” the baby. Instead they see a lifeless mannequin a cruel effigy. Suspicions arise. Many believe Clodagh’s brother has been taken for political reasons, and people begin to be accused. Among them is the mysterious Conall and Deirdre’s new husband. But Clodagh suspects someone else entirely. The changing indicates to her that this could be an otherworldly matter.

Can Clodagh get her brother back? Will Conall help her? Or is he somehow involved in the whole thing? Is Deirdre and her new husband to be trusted? And will her mother stay strong until Finbar is returned?

I really loved this book. I was so surprised when I saw this book at my local bookstore a few years ago. I thought for certain that The Sevenwaters Trilogy had ended with “The Child of the Prophecy“. I was so pleased to learn that this wasn’t so. With new characters in the family of Sevenwaters and the return of many old characters, this novel was thoroughly enjoyable to read.

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Wolfskin

This is a review of “Wolfskin” by Juliet Marillier. It is the first novel in The Saga of the Light Isles.

Eyvind is a young boy of Rogaland. His deepest desire is to grow up exactly like his brother Eirik and become a Wolfskin. A warrior Viking. He is a kind and honest boy who works hard towards his goal.

Somerled is a very different boy. He is withdrawn and quiet, his mind works differently. His brother Ulf is a respected and well-liked man, kinsman to the Jarl (a man of influence and wealth). Ulf, not knowing what to do with his younger brother, leaves him at the household of Eyvind’s mother. Eyvind is charged with the responsibility of looking after Somerled.

The two boys form a steadfast friendship and make a blood-pact binding each to the other as a brother. As the boys grow older, Eyvind suspects that he may not have thought the pact through as well as he should have.

Both boys grow into young men. Eyvind fulfills his dream and becomes a Wolfskin. Somerled becomes a silver-tongued courtier and is respected by many for his cleverness and wit. Ulf dreams of travelling to a distant island that he heard of from his father. Both Somerled and Eyvind journey to this land alongside Ulf. Eyvind against his will and Somerled in spite of his brother (whom he has an uneasy and tumultuous relationship with).

They reach the island situated in The Light Isles and a treaty of peace is brokered with the local populace. But Eyvind starts to notice dark things about his friend Somerled, things he had previously brushed aside. Is he capable of raping a young girl? Killing a man in cold blood? Committing an unspeakable crime against his own brother? And what of the mysterious priestess and princess of The Light Isles, the lovely Nessa? What role will she play in Eyvind’s life?

I really enjoyed this book. It is thought-provoking and touching.

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Child of the Prophecy

This is a review of “Child of the Prophecy” by Juliet Marillier. It is the 3rd book in The Sevenwaters Trilogy.

The sacred islands were taken by the Britons. There is a prophecy that states that a child that is neither of Britain nor of Erin- but at the same time both- and who is marked by the raven, is the only one that can take the sacred islands back. Without such a child, the quest to regain the sacred islands will fail.

This story follows Fainne, the daughter of Niamh and Ciaran (Son of the Shadows). Ciaran was not allowed to become a fully fledged Druid, because the blood of a sorcerer flowed in his veins. Niamh died when Fainne was quite young, and so Ciaran raised her on his own. She learns the art of sorcery, from Ciaran. Namely she masters the art of glamour: to change her appearance. She has a close friend, Darragh, who is the son of a local tinker.

She visits her cousins and her Uncle Sean at Sevenwaters. While she is there, her grandmother (evil sorceress from “Daughter of the Forest“) Oonagh contacts her and instructs her to follow her orders, lest she make her father Ciaran so sick that he would die. Oonagh wishes for the islands to remain as they are. She instructs Fainne to thwart the plans of her uncles and her cousin Johnny, who is believed to be the child the prophecy speaks of. Frightened, Fainne does as she asks, and a fire burns at Sevenwaters. Her cousin Maeve is terribly burned, and a young Druid is killed.

This tragic turn of events makes Fainne sick at heart. She doubts she can continue on with her grandmothers plan. But her Father’s life is in danger. She decides to make a deal with Eamonn (Son of the Shadows) . They will be married, and he will do his best to waylay the expedition for the islands. Fainne also vows to help Eamonn to get rid of Bran, whom he vehemently hates. However, her Uncle Sean rejects Eamonn’s proposal of marriage on Fainne’s behalf.

Fainne is sent to Inis Eala. Darragh follows, but as a warrior, Fainne cannot dissuade him. Can Fainne shake her grandmothers influence? Will the islands be won? Will the child of the Prophecy stay safe? And what of Eamonn, will he get his revenge?

I loved this book. Full of poignancy, love, self-doubt, shame, passion and the bonds of family, it is not easy to put down!

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Son of the Shadows

This is a review of “Son of the Shadows” by Juliet Marillier. It is the second book in The Sevenwaters Trilogy.

This novel follows Liadan, daughter of Sorcha (Daughter of the Forest). Liadan lives on the land of Sevenwaters with her big sister Niamh and her twin brother Sean. Liadan is much like her mother, and is a healer by trade. Niamh is exceedingly beautiful, and when the young neighbouring Chieftain Eamonn visits, it is expected that he will ask for her hand in marriage. Instead he asks for Liadan’s. She is is somewhat taken aback and tells him that she will give him an answer in a years time.

During his stay at Sevenwaters, Eamonn recounts the tale of a recent attack made on his men. They were set upon by a band of mercenaries led by a man known only as the Painted Man. Even though Eamonn’s life was spared, he vows revenge. During the festival of Imbolc, a young druid named Ciarán falls for Niamh, and she is taken with him in return. Soon they are embarking on a secret love affair.

Liadan comes across her sister and her lover by accident, while taking a walk in the forest. When the family finds out, they are outraged and the young couple are treated quite harshly. Ciaran is sent away and Niamh is forced to marry a Ui Niell chieftain, Fionn.

Liadan travels with Niamh to her new home. On the way back to Sevenwaters she is abducted, and brought to the camp of The Painted Man. She has been brought there because of her healing skills, they wish for her to save the life of one of their band, Evan the Smith, who has been injured in an accident. Liadan tries her best, and eventually wears down the rough exterior of the leader, The Painted Man, whom she calls Bran.

Bran and Liadan share nights of love and passion, but when he learns that she is the daughter of Hugh of Harrowfield, he sends her home immediately. Once home, Liadan discovers that she is pregnant with Bran’s child. She will not speak of her time away, and refuses to reveal the identity of her baby’s father, only saying that her pregnancy is the result of shared love and not of rape.

Sean, wishes to employ the services of The Painted Man and his band of mercenaries to aid him in his long battle with the Britons for the sacred islands. While the men hold meetings, Liadan and Niamh visit Sean’s future bride (and Eamonn’s sister) Aisling at Eamonn’s estate Sidhe Dubh. Liadan discovers that Niamh has been savagely beaten by her new husband. With the help of Bran, Liadan tries to help Niamh escape. But Eamonn and Fionn arrive at the last minute…

Did Niamh survive the escape attempt? Or is she dead and lost as Eamonn believes? And what is Bran’s true identity? Why does he baulk at the mention of Hugh of Harrowfield? Why weren’t Niamh and Ciaran allowed to be together? What of Eamonn’s jealousy over Liadan’s pregnancy and the unnamed father? And will Liadan ever get to be with her Bran?

An excellent book full of intrigue, heartache and salvation.

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Daughter of the Forest

This is a review of “Daughter of the Forest” by Juliet Marillier. It is the first novel in The Sevenwaters Trilogy.

[This is most probably my favourite historical fantasy series!!]

Based on a folk tale that has many differing versions, (“The Six Swans”) this book is set in ancient Ireland. The Sevenwaters family has seven children. Sorcha is the youngest, and the only female. She was meant to be the seventh son of seventh son, but to her Father’s dismay she was born a girl, and shares the same visage of her late mother, who died giving birth to her.

Sorcha is a healer, she visits the townsfolk and administers herbal lore for their ills. Her brother Finbar aids in the rescue of a young Briton (the enemy) soldier, Simon, and he asks Sorcha to take care of him in secret at the home of a Christian Monk, a hermit. She makes a promise to Simon not to leave until he is fully well. She is forced to break her promise however, and returns to find him gone.

A wicked evil comes to the home of Sevenwaters, in the guise of a beautiful woman. She enchants Colum (the father of the children) and creates an even bigger distance between him and his children. As the children try desperately to rid themselves of her influence, she comes upon them and casts a spell. The six brothers are transformed into swans, Sorcha barely escapes.

She is told by the Fair Folk, that the only way to get her brothers back is to let no words cross her lips and to fashion six shirts from a painful stinging nettle. Until these garments are completed, her brothers will only take human form once a year. Sorcha stoically endures her fate, living in the forest near her home with her brother’s dog Linn. One day she is brutally violated by a group of men and the dog is killed. Her brothers exact retribution but Sorcha has been forever scarred by the experience.

Not long after, she is rescued from drowning by a Briton. He takes her back to his home, bewildered by her silence and her insistence to injure herself by making the strange garments of stinging nettle. The Briton is a Lord, he is Hugh of Harrowfield and is nephew to the man mounting attacks on Sorcha’s father’s land. His men affectionately call him Red. He believes Sorcha has information about his missing brother, Simon-and indeed she does, but she cannot speak to tell him.

The people of Harrowfield are wary of Sorcha and believe her to be a witch who has enchanted Red. He marries her to keep her safe, (he knows she fears men and says the marriage will be in name only) but this only deepens his people’s suspiscions.

Can Sorcha finish the shirts without speaking? And will she survive the strange ‘accidents’ that seem to follow wherever she goes? And what of Red, her kind-hearted savior?

I LOVE this book!

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Heart’s Blood

This is a review of “Heart’s Blood” by Juliet Marillier. This story is based on the gothic fairytale ‘Beauty & The Beast’.

The tale begins with Caitrin, a young woman on the run from the horrors of her untold past. As the book unfolds, snatches of her story are revealed. Searching for refuge from those in pursuit of her, Caitrin finds herself in a strange and remote village. Overlooking the village is a vast stone fortress. The chieftain who dwells within is badly in need of a scribe, and it just so happens that Caitrin is a master of scribing. She journeys to the fortress to enquire about the job.

Almost from the second she arrives, Caitrin notices that this fortress is a strange place, where odd folk dwell. She is not entirely comfortable with her new surroundings, but anything is better than what she has left behind. Slowly she begins to work on the task she has been set by the chieftain Anluan.

As she completes her task, she gets to know Anluan, and finds herself to be intrigued by him and his ancestors. The fortress is full of sounds and shadows, and mysterious mirrors that do not reflect the world around them, but something else entirely.

Invasion threatens the fortress, and Anluan sends Caitrin away. She is forced to go back to the place she came from, and must confront her own demons of the past. But a link has formed between Caitrin and Anluan that cannot be shaken off easily…

A wonderful book, from another of my favourite fantasy authors. There will be plenty more Marillier reviews on the way!

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