4.0 1
by Monica Furlong, Karen Cushman

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Set in very early Christian times, Colman is a spellbinding fantasy of a faraway age, when the mystical and the commonplace walked hand in hand. The healer, Juniper, and her apprentice, Wise Child, are accused of witchcraft and forced to flee their small town. Wise Child’s devoted cousin, Colman, escapes with them. This is his story of their arrival toSee more details below


Set in very early Christian times, Colman is a spellbinding fantasy of a faraway age, when the mystical and the commonplace walked hand in hand. The healer, Juniper, and her apprentice, Wise Child, are accused of witchcraft and forced to flee their small town. Wise Child’s devoted cousin, Colman, escapes with them. This is his story of their arrival to the land of Juniper’s birth, where she is, in fact, a princess.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
This book completes the series that began with Wise Child, which PW called "an intriguing portrayal of an ancient way of life." Young Colman, who escaped his native land, begins to discover magical abilities of his own. Ages 10-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Colman, Cormac, Wise Child, and Juniper are fearfully fleeing southward on Finbar's ship. They are certain all will be well once they reach the kingdom in Cornwall that is ruled by Juniper's parents. But when they get there, nothing is as expected. Juniper's parents have been killed by the black witch, Meroot. Meroot has spirited Juniper's brother, the rightful heir to the kingdom, away to her domain in Caerleon where she's holding him hostage. The evil witch has impoverished the kingdom by unreasonably confiscating crops and resources. She has discouraged dissent by forbidding people to meet in groups of more than six at a time. Her soldiers intimidate the citizenry by making random forays to see whether they are obeying her edicts and imprisoning or killing those who are not. The oppression is almost unbearable. Finally Wise Child forms a daring plan to infiltrate Meroot's stronghold. Cormac and Colman decide to go along to help her. Their chances seem slim but they see no other way to restore the kingdom. In Caerleon, they discover an unexpected ally, but even with help, it seems almost impossible to defeat Meroot and rescue the prince. But they are determined to do their best, no matter what. Colman, a modest and unassuming boy who discovers he has talents he never dreamed of, narrates the exciting story. This is Ms. Furlong's final book and concludes the trilogy that began with Wise Child and Juniper. The book's foreword is by Karen Cushman, a Newbery-award winning author. 2004, Random House Children's Books, Ages 9 to 12.
—Janet Crane Barley
Library Journal - Library Journal
Gr 6-8-This suspenseful novel concludes the saga that Furlong began in Wise Child (Turtleback, 1987) and Juniper (Knopf, 1992; o.p.), with the main characters returning to Juniper's home kingdom where she was a princess. For those who have not read the first two books, the beginning will be confusing. As the tale unfolds and the characters' personalities become evident, readers should be able to pick up the thread and follow the action. Juniper has been trained as a doran, a person with special magical gifts who strives for good in the universe. Wise Child is her apprentice, and Colman is their young friend. Another key ally from the earlier books is Cormac, a disfigured man whom Juniper has healed from leprosy. When this intrepid group arrives in Cornwall, they learn that Juniper's parents are dead. Her evil aunt, Meroot, and Meroot's Gray Knight have seized control of the kingdom and severely oppressed the people. Colman, Cormac, and Wise Child go to the palace and spy on Meroot, who is using Juniper's brother, Prince Brangwyn, the rightful heir, as a sort of regent to blackmail the survivors of the realm. The plot grows ever more complex as Juniper's mentor is found to be in service to Meroot and the children are captured and thrown in a dungeon. The story will keep readers turning pages right up to the satisfying resolution. Overall, this title is a powerful conclusion to the trilogy, but it does not stand alone as well as the other two volumes.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Prefaced by an appreciation from Karen Cushman, this posthumously published sequel to Wise Child (1987) plunges its small band of fugitives into new adventures, but suffers from slow pacing and a general lack of internal cohesion. Furlong revises the previous volume's ending, so that instead of making landfall on Tir-nan-Og, the healer Juniper takes a needlessly circuitous route back to her native Cornwall, where she learns that her brother, Prince Brangwyn, has been taken captive by evil enchanters Meroot and the Gray Knight. While Juniper helps to organize a revolt, young Wise Child, her cousin Colman (the narrator), and disfigured former leper Cormac join Juniper's old teacher Euny in spying on the usurpers, then carry out a complicated plot to spring Branwyn. Wise Child and its prequel Juniper (1991) are widely admired for their feminist political and social attitudes and strong-minded female protagonists; here those attitudes are muted, and, seen through Colman's eyes, the women seem mulish and arbitrary. Readers hoping for a big finish will be disappointed. Furlong merits a memento mori, but this one is more of a rough draft. (Fiction. 11-13)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.38(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt


Four of us escaped on Finbar's ship after Juniper's trial as a witch—Juniper, Wise Child, Cormac, and me. There had been so much fear for all of us except Finbar, a terrible walk across the island for Juniper and Wise Child, and then suddenly we were all sailing across a peaceful sea, safe at last. It was only a few weeks since Juniper had lived at the white house, had taken care of my cousin Wise Child, and had helped the people of the village with remedies for their sicknesses and accidents. Then came the accusation of black magic, with the sequel of torture and possible death, and Juniper, who had been arrested and imprisoned, had only just escaped in time.

And now there the five of us were on the ship, along with Finbar's men. It was a beautiful evening. Juniper and Wise Child sat in the stern of the boat watching the sunset and recovering from their ordeal, Wise Child small and dark, Juniper with her arm around her. Juniper's long black hair blew wildly about until she put her shawl over it to tame it. Cormac stood staring over the stern with his scarred, damaged face, seeing the island grow smaller and smaller. I guess he had few regrets for the place where he had known great unhappiness. Me, although I felt bad about leaving Mam and my brothers and sisters without saying goodbye, I was very glad to get away from Dad and his belt and to have started an adventure with the people I loved best, not counting my family.

It was terribly exciting to be on a ship like Finbar's. It had sails, something I had never seen before. The. island boats were small and light and made out of wicker and hide, whereas Finbar's boat, like the birlinns onwhich I had very occasionally traveled to the mainland with my father, was made out of wood. And now, with the wind behind us, we had begun to move rapidly and would sail for distances I had barely dreamed of. Already we had passed islands of which I did not even know the names.

I followed Finbar about, listening to him giving orders and imagining myself as captain of a ship. Soon Finbar suggested chores I could do like a proper sailor. One of the men showed me how to coil a rope, and Cully, the ship's cook, got me peeling vegetables in the galley.

That first night was a joyful one. Finbar broached some wine, and even Wise Child and I were given a generous amount with a splash of water. It was too soon to start asking any of the difficult questions about where we would go and what we would do. We were all just glad to be together and to be safe.

I did notice that Wise Child seemed a little shy of Finbar. Although he was her dad, he had been at sea for several years, and she had looked forward to his return for so long. I think she was surprised to find that he seemed like a stranger to her. Perhaps his sheer size was intimidating. Finbar was a very tall man with a beard and strong, handsome features. He had black hair and brilliant blue eyes, just like her own, along with wonderful pale skin.

We enjoyed our feast—we were all really hungry—and then Finbar found beds for all of us. He turned out of his bunk and put Juniper in it. Wise Child he put in a little made-up bed on the floor. He slung hammocks for himself and for Cormac and me on the deck. I did not go to sleep for hours—it seemed a pity to waste my excitement in sleep. I loved watching the movement of the stars overhead and feeling the gentle movement of the ship.

I fell asleep at last and slept well, but was awakened in the early morning by shouting. A strong wind was blowing, and the sea had become much rougher. The sailors were clambering up the mast and along the yardarm, pulling in sails and tying them into place.

I hastily did up my trousers and folded my hammock, wanting to be part of it all. We were passing through a channel with land on both sides.

"That's Ireland!" one of the sailors shouted to me, pointing to starboard. "They call this the North Channel!"

Before I could offer my services as a sailor, Finbar ordered me down to the galley. Cully was already at work gutting some fish, and I helped him clean up afterward.

"Fancy a bit of bacon, boy?" he asked when we had finished.

I nodded.

"The sea hasn't put you off your breakfast, then?"

I thought about it. No, my stomach felt fine.

"I'd like your help. There's a lot to do on a ship on a morning like this, and it's important not to get in the men's way.”

It occurred to me later that Finbar had asked him to tell me this in a way that did not hurt my feelings.

"Have you washed?" he then surprised me by asking.

I shook my head.

"Must keep clean on a ship, ’specially when you're a cook." He nodded to a flagon of water in the corner with a cloth beside it, and under his eye I washed my face and hands. I had not realized sailors were so fussy. Then I started chopping onions until the tears ran down my face. I had just started on a mound of cabbage when a sailor appeared at the door.

"Cap'n sends his compliments and would like to talk to you, sir," he said to me. "He's at the wheel."

I was so overcome at being called "sir" that I just mumbled, "All right," but Cully prompted me quietly: "Aye, aye." I duly echoed him, then followed the sailor above deck.

Finbar made a fine figure at the wheel and for a few moments did not speak to me. Finbar, I was to learn, was a man of long silences.

"We're having a council of war tonight, Colman," he said at last. "All of us, to decide where to go, what to do. But I wanted to talk to you first.

"It seems bad luck that you have got caught up in all this and dragged away from your family. I dare not let you go back, however. They would certainly suspect you were involved in the escape because of your friendship with Wise Child. "

I nodded. If I went back, there would be endless questions, and my dad would do his best to beat the truth out of me. I was much more frightened of him than I was of Cormac's brother, Fillan, the priest who, during the time of famine and the smallpox epidemic, had roused the people against Juniper. There was little hardship for me in going on a voyage with my favorite people.

The effort of explaining all this felt too great. I grinned instead and said, "I don't mind!"

Finbar looked at me in a searching way with eyes that were so much like Wise Child's. Then he shook his head slightly and laughed. "So be it!"

It was not till I saw Wise Child and Juniper in Finbar's cabin that evening that I realized that though they had escaped, the ordeal was not over for them. The previous night they had seemed calm, serene. Tonight, however, Juniper looked pale and drawn, entirely unlike her usual rosy self. There were shadows under her eyes, and she kept propping up her head with her hand as if she was too exhausted to hold it upright.

From the Hardcover edition.

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