In this captivating third installment in Marillier's historical fantasy series (after 2006's Blade of Fortriu) set in the sixth-century Scottish Highlands and Ireland, Faolan of the Uí Néill clan—bard, assassin, spy and adviser to the Pictish King Bridei of Fortriu—must complete three difficult missions. For Bridei, he must track down a cleric named Colmcille. For his own peace of mind, he must return home to Erin and confront his past. (Ten years earlier Faolan faced an impossible choice that shattered his family and left his eldest brother dead.) For his deceased comrade Deord, he must bring news of the warrior's death to the man's family in Cloud Hill, a task that lands Deord's impoverished 16-year-old daughter, Eile, and her toddler in Faolan's care. Faolan brings Eile back to the court of King Bridei, where they find themselves enmeshed in a plot against the king's half-fey son, Derelei. Despite some anachronistic instances of liberated female behavior and a few discordant modern colloquialisms, this episode will appeal to series fans and new readers alike. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Marillier just keeps getting better, as the third book in the Bridei Chronicles after The Dark Mirror (Tor, 2004/VOYA August 2005) and Blade of Fortriu (Tor, 2006/VOYA October 2006) shows. Again King Bridei of the Priteni (Picts) is trying to keep his kingdom together and hold on to the old religion despite the growth of Christianity. Bridei and his wife Tuala, meanwhile, are dealing with the birth of a new baby and the education of their young son, Derelei, who is clearly exhibiting signs of having some of Tuala's magical skills. Broichan, the king's druid advisor and foster father, has left the court for an unknown length of time because Tuala has confronted him with the likelihood that he is her father. But the heart of this story is Faolan, Bridei's closest advisor and spy. Faolan, on a secret mission to Ireland, confronts his past and meets a young woman, Eile, who is as troubled and broken as he is. Unsurprisingly the two form a bond that flowers into love. But first, of course, there are journeys, adventures, misunderstandings, a suspicious death, betrayals, unscrupulous enemies, and daring rescues. This installment is another page-turner with wonderful characters and superb storytelling.
Determined to protect his Scottish kingdom and Druid faith against Christian encroachment, King Bridei dispatches his masterspy to Faolan's Ulster homeland to locate the monk Colmcille, who might be able to settle the quarrel. Colmcille, however, is a member of the Uf NTill clan, as is Faolan, who exiled himself after he was forced to sacrifice his older brother. In returning to Ireland, Faolan must confront the hatreds he left. Rescued from imprisonment by Eile, the daughter of a lost comrade, Faolan flees back to Scotia with the girl and her child, falling in love with Eile along the way. Immediately sent on another mission, he must leave Eile and her daughter to survive the machinations at court on their own. When Eile incurs the enmity of the psychopathic princess Breda, only Tuala, Bridei's queen, can save her-and only through exposing her own elvish heritage. As usual, Marillier brings the past alive, painting a vivid picture of life in the sixth-century British Isles. Her blending of traditional themes with her well-developed characters and settings and fast-moving plot fashion an epic that all fantasy fans should enjoy. This installment in The Bridei Chronicles is highly recommended for all high school and public libraries.
This third installment in a fantasy series set in sixth-century Scotland continues the saga of King Bridei and his battle to maintain his kingdom and religion against the rising tide of Christianity. The monarch and his mystical wife enjoy the birth of a baby and the education of their young son, who is showing signs of possessing Tuala's magical abilities. Despite these happy circumstances, Bridei learns of some dark and hidden forces plotting to twist apart the kingdom he's worked so hard to build. He sends Faolon, a skilled assassin and his most trusted friend, out across Scotland and Ireland to learn who the hidden enemies really are. The journey dredges up moments from his past, forcing him to deal with the painful memories of his dead brother and leading into a surprising and well-written love story. Of course, his new love and the strength of the kingdom are both tested through various adventures, acts of treachery, and dark plans fabricated by manipulative villains. Fans of the series will delight in the focus on Faolon, while new readers will find it an easy entry point into Marillier's world. The author makes grand use of the historical and mythological stories of Scotland to create a gripping page-turner that readers of character-driven fantasy will love.
Matthew L. MoffettCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.