Saturday 10 January 2009

Book Review: Juliet Marillier - The Sevenwaters Trilogy: Child of the Prophecy

Kooky finally got round to reading this and handing it over so that I could finally read the third in the Sevenwaters trilogy (go here for reviews of the excellent part one and not quite as good part two).

This book continues the story started in book one with Sorcha of Sevenwaters and her battle with the evil Lady Oonagh and the sacrifices she makes to save her brothers. The second novel is narratted by Liadan, Sorcha's daughter and tells of the escalation of war between Ireland and Britain over the islands occupied by the British but held sacred by the Irish. We find Liadan's brother Sean being groomed to become Lord of Sevenwaters and her beautiful sister Niamh being forced to marry a cruel nobleman after she is found to be in love with a druid. Liadan herself is kidnapped by outlaws who need her healing skills and find's herself face-to-face with the mysterious "Painted Man".

In the third instalment the action moves far away from Sevenwaters to Kerry on the Irish coast and is told through the eyes of Niamh's daughter Fainne - part sorceress and raised in the traditions of the druids but with no knowledge that she belongs to the Sevewaters clan. Fainne lives an isolated life with her sorcerer father waiting every summer for the travelling folk to return to the coast so that she can meet her only friend Darragh. That is until her fifteenth year when we see the mysterious Lady Oonagh return and hold her father captive with the demand that she travel to Sevenwaters and insinuate her way into her family's affections. This is with a view to cause them harm and also to ensure that Fainne uses her magic to make sure they lose the great battle that is being planned for the following summer against the Briton's to win back the scared isles.

Oonagh's intention is to foil the prophecy that states that it will take a child that was neither of Britain nor or Erin but at the same time both, who is marked by the raven to take the sacred islands back. Without the Child of the Prophecy, who is beleived to be Liaidan's son Johnny, the quest to regain the sacred islands will fail.

We follow Fainne as she is sent to Sevenwaters and finds that her family are not the cruel people portrayed to her. Her discovery is tempered by the warning from Oonagh that she must carry out her plan or risk the lives of her father, Darragh and her new family. At the same time she finds her abilities in the craft of magic, her power as a seer and her ability to see folk from the other world (the ancient Formhoire or the Tuatha Dé Danann or "Fair Folk").

As with the second book, the third was not as gripping as the original story. Saying this, it still builds to quite a gripping climax as we finally get to the resolution of the story that we anticipate from the end of the first novel.

Whereas the first two novels are heavily laced with Irish folk-lore which give them a more mystical quality, the third is a more straightforward narrative which looks at how the great legends are made and how the omit the reality of war: the suffering, the blood and guts and the pain of those left behind and also the important lesson that the other is is really no different to our own (the British are viewed as cold and lacking in sprituality as they follow the new religion of Christianity, the Irish are viewed as passionate, blood-thirsty heathens).

Although I did enjoy this book for the most part, by about half-way I almost gave up due to the meandering nature of the story - it took a long time to get to the climax. I also found myself predicting much of what would come very near the beginning (the truth about Niamh's death, the reality of the Child of the Prophecy, the way Darragh's part in the book would unfold). The big dramatic dialogue at the end between Fainne and Oonagh also made me laugh, reminding me of the way the villain in Indian films stands gloating over the fallen hero for so long, that he recovers his strength and vanquishes the baddie. Saying that the ending had me gripped. I missed two bus stops and had to carry my heavy shopping all the way home, which is usually a sign I was hooked.

1 comment:

  1. Shukran! Was just waiting to pass onto my sister :-D