The House of Gaian (Tir Alainn Series #3)

The House of Gaian (Tir Alainn Series #3)

by Anne Bishop
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The House of Gaian (Tir Alainn Series #3) by Anne Bishop

New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop presents the stunning conclusion to the Tir Alainn trilogy, where the world will be tested in an epic war...

It began as a witch hunt. But the Master Inquisitor’s plans to eliminate all traces of female power in the world have expanded to crushing the Sylvalan Barons who oppose him—and to destroying the wellspring of magic in the Mother’s Hills.

Faced with this evil, humans, witches, and the Fae become uneasy allies. But even together, they aren’t strong enough to stand against the armies the Inquisitors are gathering. So they look for help from their last possible ally. The House of Gaian. The reclusive witches who rule the Mother’s Hills. The witches powerful enough to create a world—or destroy one...

Their long-held creed of “do no harm” is about to give way to more important one: Survive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101212530
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/07/2003
Series: Tir Alainn Trilogy , #3
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 86,984
File size: 744 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop is a winner of the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award, presented by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, for The Black Jewels Trilogy. She is also the author of the Ephemera series, the Tir Alainn trilogy, and the Novels of the Others—including Etched in BoneMarked in Flesh, Vision in Silver, Murder of Crows, and Written in Red. She lives in upstate New York.

Read an Excerpt

Aiden studied her for a long moment. “You could stay here with Ari and Neall. You don’t have to go.”

“Of course I do. I’m the Gatherer. I’m Death’s Mistress. My place is on a battlefield.” Morag sighed. “I should have killed the Master Inquisitor when I had the chance. Maybe things would be different now if I had.”

“Maybe,” Aiden agreed. “And maybe if you had, the battle would have come sooner, before we had any chance to meet it.”

“I gave him a chance to leave, and to leave us be. I won’t give him a second chance. I won’t give any of them a second chance.”

Aiden shifted uncomfortably.

None of the Fae—except Ashk—were comfortable with that aspect of her gift, but until last summer, it had been something that had been mentioned in old stories and songs. Unlike the other Fae whose gift made them Death’s Servants, she could gather a spirit from one who was dying, not just from one who was already dead. And she could gather a spirit from someone who was very much among the living. She could ride through a village and leave nothing but corpses in her wake. It was one thing to know that was an aspect of the Gatherer’s power; it was quite another to realize the person who wielded that gift was willing to use it.

And she would use it. Had used it. By the time she’d found the Witch’s Hammer last summer, she had killed all of the Inquisitors he’d brought with him to Sylvalan. She’d hoped that would convince him to leave Sylvalan and never come back, but that had been a foolish, futile hope. So the Gatherer would follow the Hunter into battle, and Death would be her weapon.

Morag brushed her black hair away from her face. Ashk and Neall were coming down the trail, both looking solemn. She turned away and walked to the large outdoor table where Padrick waited—and she wondered if the Gatherer or the Hunter would be Death’s true mistress in the days ahead.

Ashk studied the faces of the people sitting around the table. Padrick had asked to talk to just the Fae at this gathering since he would be meeting with the squires, magistrates, and captains of the guard at another time to plan the human defenses.

Good people, she thought as she studied them. Strong-willed people.

Aiden, the Bard, with his sharp mind and tongue and his passionate desire to protect the witches, the Daughters of the Great Mother. Lyrra, the Muse, whose gift nurtured the poets and storytellers. Morag, whose passion for life made her even more dangerous as Death’s Mistress. Morphia, the Lady of Dreams and Morag’s sister. Sheridan, the Clan’s Lord of the Hawks, who had recently become Morphia’s lover. Neall and Ari, who had changed the lives of many of the Fae around the table simply by being the people they were. And Padrick, Baron of Breton, gentry and Fae, Ashk’s friend, lover, and husband.

Combined with the humans, would they be able to hold on to the things they held dear and to keep them safe?

Padrick unrolled a map of Sylvalan and placed a stone on each corner to hold it down.

“I’ve heard from two of the western barons,” Padrick said. “Despite Baron Liam’s absence for the vote at the barons’ council a few weeks ago—or, perhaps, because of his absence after his impassioned speech—the vote went against all the decrees the eastern barons were trying to get accepted so that they would apply to all of Sylvalan. But there was no vote to demand that the eastern barons restore the rights of the women who live in their counties. Which leaves the people in those eastern counties at the mercy of the men who rule them.”

“That is the human way, is it not?” Aiden asked.

Ashk could hear the effort he was making to keep his voice neutral.

“It is,” Padrick said. “A baron can rule as he pleases and do what he pleases. The decrees provide a standard we’re all expected to honor, but no one is naive enough to believe every man with power wields it in the same way. However, this has left the eastern barons who sold themselves to the Inquisitors twisting in the wind, especially after the news that an entire village of women chose death for themselves and their daughters rather than live with the constrictions that had been put on them. The fact that the news traveled so swiftly and couldn’t be contained has also changed things. Any eastern baron who had considered bringing in the Black Coats won’t do it now, at the risk of having his own people turn against him. Those men can’t be counted as allies, but they aren’t enemies. At least, not yet. That leaves the rest of Sylvalan standing against the eastern barons who are controlled by the Inquisitors.”

“Stalemate,” Aiden said.

Padrick shook his head. “I don’t think so. If the Inquisitors had been willing to let us live as we choose, they never would have crossed the Una River. So I don’t think a vote in the barons’ council is going to stop them; it will just change the way they attack.” He ran his finger down the eastern side of the map, from the north down to the southern coast. “They’ve been pushing steadily east and south, always pushing out from a place where a baron has reshaped his county to match the Inquisitors’ demands. From what I can tell, since their return this spring, they’ve concentrated on destroying the witches to eliminate the magic in the Old Places. Or they did until Liam gave them another enemy to focus on.”

“He wasn’t the only baron the Black Coats focused on,” Ashk said softly.

“No, he wasn’t,” Padrick replied grimly. “That was a mistake on their part. They may know of the Fae, but they don’t know the Fae.”

Ashk met Padrick’s eyes for a long moment, then focused on the map. He was right. If the Black Coats had realized what kind of enemy they would awaken by attacking Breton and Bretonwood, they would have kept their distance.

“You think they’re going to attack the baron you helped?” she asked.

Padrick hesitated. “I think if this Master Inquisitor is as intelligent and powerful as he seems, what he’s going to focus on destroying is this.” His finger landed heavily on the map.

“The Mother’s Hills,” Ashk whispered, feeling a chill go through her.

“As long as the House of Gaian rules the Mother’s Hills, there will be witches. As long as there are witches, there will be vessels to embrace and channel the Great Mother’s power and breathe magic into the world. As long as there is magic in Sylvalan, there will be the Small Folk—and the Fae. So, yes, once he realizes those hills are the wellspring of magic in Sylvalan because of who rules there, he’ll throw everything he can at those witches until he destroys them—or until he and those who follow him are destroyed. And Liam, and the people of Willowsbrook, are standing squarely in his path.”

Neall leaned closer to the map. “Those hills cover a lot of land, and I doubt the eastern barons can gather enough men to form an army big enough to take them.”

“If the Inquisitors control the barons of Wolfram and Arktos, and it seems likely they do, they can gather an army that’s strong enough to be a real threat,” Padrick said.

“If they divide the army and have half swing below the hills to come up on the other side, they’ll be attacking from both directions,” Neall said.

“So we block the way,” Ashk said. “Follow the curve of the hills to the south and north. If the barons who rule the counties there will stand against the Inquisitors with the help of the Clans in those areas, there would be no threat to the midlands or the western side of the hills, so the midland barons could send warriors to defend the gaps.”

“Assuming you can get enough of the Fae to help,” Aiden said with a trace of bitterness.

“If they want to spend time in the world, they can help defend the world,” Ashk said coldly.

An uneasy silence settled around the table until Padrick finally cleared his throat. “There might be another problem with the Fae’s presence in those southern counties. I’ve gathered that their . . . manners . . . haven’t made the humans think well of them. The barons may not accept the Fae being among their people.”

“They’d better accept it if they don’t want to be outnumbered and crushed in a battle,” Ashk snapped. Then she relented. She’d heard enough over the years about how the Fae dealt with humans in other parts of Sylvalan to understand why the humans wouldn’t trust the Fae, even to fight a common enemy. “All right. We’ll head for the southern end of the Mother’s Hills first to convince the barons there to accept us as allies. Letters from you might ease things.”

“You’ll have them.”

They talked for another hour, but it was more to confirm the things she and Padrick had already decided. A meeting of all the western barons would take place in Breton in a few days. Ashk had sent out the call to all the western Clans to have some of the huntsmen from each Clan join her. Now she’d divide those men, sending some to the northern end of the Mother’s Hills and some to the south—and some would go to Willowsbrook. She hoped Baron Liam was as open-minded as Padrick thought. Based on what she knew about the Fae beyond the west, Liam and his people were about to meet something they hadn’t seen before.

The meeting concluded, they’d all risen to stretch their legs and get something to eat when Ashk noticed the woman standing far enough away not to intrude on their discussion, but just as obviously waiting for her attention.

As Ashk walked over to meet her guest, tension tightened her shoulders.

“Blessings of the day to you, Lady Ashk,” the woman said.

“Blessings of the day, Gwynith,” Ashk replied. “Forgive my being blunt, but I’ve a long journey ahead of me and much to do before I go. What brings you here?”

“I’ll be heading for the midlands myself come morning,” Gwynith said. “I came down this way to tell you.”

Ashk frowned. “A Lady of the Moon doesn’t need to tell me her plans to travel.”

“That’s why I had to tell you. All the western Clans have heard the Hunter’s call, and we’ve heard about the Black Coats, so I had to tell you because I don’t know how this might change what you need to do.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Dianna’s power is waning.” Gwynith frowned. “No, not waning, exactly, but there’s a . . . challenger . . . and those of us who share the gift of the moon are being drawn together to find out who will ascend to become the new Lady of the Moon—and the Huntress.”

Ashk said nothing for a moment. She didn’t approve of Dianna or the Huntress’s refusal to do anything to protect the witches and the Old Places, but at least she was a familiar adversary. A new Huntress . . . Gwynith was right. For good or ill, this could change things. “Then I wish you well.”

Gwynith shook her head. “I’m not the one. I feel the call, so I go to bear witness, and to offer my pledge of loyalty to the one who commands my gift. But I wanted you to know, if I have to choose between the Huntress and the Hunter . . . You need only ask, and I’ll do whatever you need.”

Knowing Gwynith could be stripped of her power if she defied whoever became the Lady of the Moon, Ashk said, “Let’s hope you don’t have to make that choice.”

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House of Gaian (Tir Alainn Series #3) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
Anonymous 10 months ago
A lot of stories I fall in love with leave me sad or angry that they come to an end because it feels unfinished, or like I wanted more. This one left me feeling more sweet than bitter, satisfied with the happy ending and only a little sad that I have to let the characters go on without me.
MicheleLeesBookLove More than 1 year ago
I bought this book. There's a lot to this final book in Anne Bishop's Tir Alainn series. Previously the Black Coats crept their way through Arkos and Wolfram, into Sylvania, slaughtering the witches and destroying the pieces of the fairy realm, Tir Alainn, linked to those areas. Their quest to eradicate magic faltered as they moved west and began to encounter Fae and witches who were still strong and tied together, still aware of their linked ancestry. Battle lines were drawn between the Inquisitors and the magic users, with the fate of all women and magic at stake. In this book an army of men marches to Willowsbrook, where the Master Inquisitor hopes to teach a lesson to those who resist his will before attacking the Mother's Hills, the secretive wellspring of magic where the House of Gaian still lives. Even the area witches are intimidated by those who live in the hills, and not sure when witches and fae begin to fight back against the Inquisitors, if the wiccanfae from the Hills will crush them all in their effort to destroy the Black Coats. Again, there is a slant toward happy endings, and feminism. The women are who must be saved as they are more naturally attuned to the magic of the land. They're also who the Master Inquisitor is out to destroy in a crazy revenge-against-the-mommy-who-didn't-love-him way. Most of the nastiest creatures to creep out of Bishop's mind, like the nighthunters, soul-eating, flesh-devouring creatures made from twisted magic, are blunted by Bishop's storytelling stylings. This keeps the story firmly in fantasy without letting it slip under the influence of horror. As always Bishop is a glorious storyteller, and has created a world rich enough to dive into. Readers will find plenty to love in this trilogy, and all without a nihilistic, or savage tone.
KMO88 More than 1 year ago
This is a truly wonderful and epic fantasy adventure. Taking the perspective of multiple characters gives the story a breadth of adventure and makes the story all the more interesting. This book also reminds us of the importance of everyone within the world and of respecting our world and appreciating it. Give back what we take and do no harm, those are the mottos promoted in Anne Bishop's three books. This final book is the culmination of all that came before - the great battle between the Black Coats, and the witches, wiccanfae, the Fae and the humans. For the build up of the three books, I felt that the ending lacked the clarity and the punch it really needed. Also, I felt that the book did not wrap up all the characters as well or as interestingly as it could have but the entire first 300 pages keep you dying to know the end, and are a wonderful read. Except for my minor disappointment in the ending, this is an incredible book and a wonderful end to a great trilogy.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Just love this series wish there ws more
PollyBennett More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful and exciting ending to a great trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read. You fall into the story
purrfectmatch More than 1 year ago
This is the third and final book in The Tir Alain. The first is The Pillars of the World.      I liked the first two installments of this book. I gave up after finishing about a quarter this one. I debated for a bit on trying to get back into it, but it began to feel like I would be reading it because I had to, like a literature class assignment and I decided it was best to move on, and put this into my small pile of I couldn't finish it books.      I finally realized my issue was the lack of any sort of interesting story line, for the most part. Occasional story bits that progressed the tale a tad. But to me, it just seemed to be a slow progression of the characters, moving toward the final battle between good and evil. I really think this book should have been half its size, and a good chuck of it cut out.      I don't have an issue with books that don't have a lot of adventure in them. But the story plot has to move, things of interest have to be going on at some level, and this just seemed to get stuck in the mud. To be honest, I think two books would have sufficed over three.      Usually, enjoy her books, but again this was just stalled. Still, the first two books were good, I just wouldn't expect the third to be great.       Anne Bishop's Black Jewel Books, and Ephemera books are good reads too. 
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