Guest Post for Seven Days for Sevenwaters

Seven Days for Sevenwaters is here! It’s a week-long celebration of Juliet Marillier’s lovely novels in the Sevenwaters series. I have a guest post up today so head on over to Book Harbinger to see what I have to say about one of my favorite fantasy series.

Also check out the guest posts from Angie and Heidi – they had some lovely things to say about the series.

Watch Out For: Seven Days for Sevenwaters

My good friend Holly of Book Harbinger is hosting a week-long celebration of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series on September 10-16. I was really excited when I first heard about the event because I’m a huge fan of the Sevenwaters series, which isn’t surprising since it’s a well-written historical fantasy series. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the guest posts! If you haven’t read the series, then this is your chance. Pick up the books and write about them for Holly’s event. 🙂

“You will find the way, daughter of the forest. Through grief and pain, through many trials, through betrayal and loss, your feet will walk a straight path.” ― Juliet Marillier, Daughter of the Forest

Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

I’ve been wanting this book for a while now. Seer of Sevenwaters is the fifth installment in the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier, one of my favorite discoveries in 2010. It’s such a great series and I knew I was in for a treat when I picked up this one. The books can be read on their own but there are references to some of the other stories so I think it’s still better to read them in order. Reading order: Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, Child of the Prophecy and Heir to Sevenwaters.

Here’s the summary from Juliet Marillier’s website:

Sibeal has always known that she is destined for a spiritual life, and is committed to it with all her heart. Before making her final vows, she travels to the northern island of Inis Eala to spend the summer with her sisters, Muirrin and Clodagh.

But Sibeal has barely set foot on the island when a freak storm out at sea sinks a ship before her eyes. In spite of frantic rescue efforts, only three survivors are fished alive from the water, and one of them, a man Sibeal names Ardal, clings to life by the merest thread.

As Ardal fights for his life, the island community discovers that there is something unusual about the three shipwrecked strangers. The beautiful Svala is mute and disturbed. Stalwart warrior Knut seems ashamed of his grieving wife. And Ardal has a secret he can’t remember… or won’t tell. When the astonishing truth comes out, Sibeal finds herself drawn into a perilous quest. At its end, she will face a decision that may break her heart.

Juliet Marillier is an amazing author and I’m so glad she decided to come back to the Sevenwaters world, years after she finished the trilogy. I love the Sevenwaters family and it’s always a good thing to get to know new characters and catch glimpses of old ones. I have been curious about Sibeal ever since Heir to Sevenwaters and I was glad she got her own story. This is the first time that we got the point of view of a druid from the family. Sibeal is a very reserved type of person – her vocation and her abilities (she has the gift of Sight) have something to do with that. She’s been training to become a druid since the age of twelve. Four years later, she’s ready to take her vows but her mentor and kinsman Ciaran thinks she should go to Inis Eala first. I’m glad we finally got a glimpse of the famous island community known for its unusual purpose of training fighting men because I’ve been curious about Inis Eala ever since it was established.

One of the reasons why I love the Sevenwaters books is because they have excellent characters. I was blown away by Sorcha and Red in Daughter of the Forest and also by Liadan and Bran in Son of the Shadows. I was hoping for the same reaction in this one, especially since the story is told from the alternating points of view of Sibeal and the man she names Ardal, so we get both sides of the story. However, I didn’t find Sibeal as compelling as her other female relatives. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading the novel as a whole because I did, I just didn’t love it as much as the other books in the series. The same lyrical writing that makes the setting beautiful is still there and I can’t find fault in that. I guess I just wasn’t as invested in Sibeal as I was hoping I’d be. I still highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and fantasy but I suggest that you read the other books in the Sevenwaters series first if you haven’t yet. If you’ve read the other Sevenwaters books, I’m sure you’re already curious about this one because how can you resist Juliet Marillier and her superb writing? I can’t wait to read the next one, due to come out next year. Still no news on who’s the main character but I know it’s going to be awesome. There were hints about something big in store for Cathal and Ciaran in this book so the next one may have something to do with them. In the meantime, I can catch up with the rest of the Juliet Marillier books that I haven’t read. The Bridei Chronicles are already on my radar.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Book Harbinger
The Book Smugglers
The Great Raven

Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Heir to Sevenwaters is the fourth installment in the lovely Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier. Read my reviews of the rest of the books in the series in these links: Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, Child of the Prophecy.

Here’s the summary from Juliet Marillier’s website:

The chieftains of Sevenwaters have long been custodians of a vast forest, one of the last refuges of the Tuatha De Danann, the Fair Folk of ancient story. Human and Otherworld dwellers have existed there side by side, separated by a thin veil between worlds and sharing a wary trust. Until the spring when Lady Aisling of Sevenwaters finds herself expecting another child, and everything changes.

With her mother pregnant, Clodagh fears the worst since Aisling is well past the safe age for childbearing. Clodagh’s father, Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, faces his own difficulties as warring factions threaten his borders. When the baby is born the unthinkable happens, and Clodagh’s world is turned upside down.

To set things to rights for her family and for all the people of Sevenwaters, Clodagh must enter the shadowy Otherworld and confront the powerful prince who now rules there. Accompanied on her quest by a warrior of uncertain allegiance, she will have her courage tested to breaking point. The reward may be far greater than she ever dreamed.

Another excellent installment in what has become one of my favorite series: the Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier. I’m so happy that Ms. Marillier decided to write more books in this series! Like I said, I had a pretty lukewarm reaction to Child of the Prophecy but that’s okay because I knew that I could look forward to more adventures in the Sevenwaters world with this one and Seer of Sevenwaters, due out later this year. This one is different from the rest because it occurs only a couple of years after Child of the Prophecy, unlike the other Sevenwaters books which occur one generation after the one before it.

As always, the main character of this book is a daughter of Sevenwaters, Clodagh. What I like about Clodagh is she doesn’t have special powers like the other Sevenwaters heroines. She’s not the healer nor the seer in her generation. At the start of the book, it is even emphasized that Clodagh’s main skills lie in managing the household and she’ll become a nice little wife some day. However, Clodagh shows an exceptional capacity to love, which I think comes from her upbringing. The Sevenwaters clan is a close-knit one and the children of this remarkable family all exhibit their warmth and inner strength each in their own way. I love that even though Clodagh was terrified to journey to the Otherworld, she knows she must do it to get her brother back.

I know that the main characters in the Sevenwaters books are females but since all of them have their respective romantic interests, I thought I’d take a moment to praise Ms. Marillier’s heroes because they are just as amazing as their female counterparts. Red, Bran, Cathal. Very strong men and convinced of what they want in life until they meet our heroines and they become conflicted because they know that nothing will ever be the same. *sigh* I love these men! I love that they’re all so different too. In Cathal’s case, he was rude and arrogant because he wanted to push Clodagh away. He believed that she’ll be in danger if she comes near him but at the same time, he’s drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

As always, beautiful writing in a lush and vivid world that’s a blend of historical fiction and fantasy involving the fey. However, the Lady of the Forest and her flame-haired lord, those who personally watched over generations of the Sevenwaters family have moved on and a different breed took their place in the forest. Mac Dara and his kind are the fey that are common in the books that I’ve seen around – they’re tricksters and do not understand human emotions such as love so they’re bound to be cruel. These characters present a different kind of problem from the previous books because the prophecy has already been fulfilled. I like that there’s something unique in this book to keep things lively. I keep saying this but if you guys haven’t realized, I highly recommend this series and I look forward to more of Ms. Marillier’s work. 🙂

I found the artwork for the UK cover (which is the one I have) and it’s so lovely that I had to post it. I found it in the artist’s site:

Click to embiggen or click the link of the source to see an even bigger version. Isn’t it amazing? You couldn’t see all of the details on the actual cover. Like at the back, I didn’t even notice that Cathal was there because they had to reduce the opacity of the artwork to put in the text of the summary. When I saw the artwork, I thought to myself, “Why helloooo, Cathal. Didn’t realize you were there! So glad to see you.”

So excited for Seer of Sevenwaters, which is about Clodagh’s sister, Sibeal. Check out the summary on Goodreads. Due out December 7, 2010.

Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier

Child of the Prophecy is the third book in the Sevenwaters series, following Daughter of the Forest and Son of the Shadows. I loved both books so I decided to finish reading the other ones in the series. This one occurs a generation after Son of the Shadows. Fainne is Sorcha’s granddaughter.

Here’s the summary from Macmillan’s website:

Magic is fading… and the ways of Man are driving the Old Ones to the West, beyond the ken of humankind. The ancient groves are being destroyed, and if nothing is done, Ireland will lose its essential mystic core.

The prophecies of long ago have foretold a way to prevent this horror, and it is the Sevenwaters clan that the Spirits of Eire look to for salvation. They are a family bound into the lifeblood of the land, and their promise to preserve the magic has been the cause of great joy to them… as well as great sorrow.

It is up to Fainne, daughter of Niamh, the lost sister of Sevenwaters, to solve the riddles of power. She is the shy child of a reclusive sorcerer, and her way is hard, for her father is the son of the wicked sorceress Oonagh, who has emerged from the shadows and seeks to destroy all that Sevenwaters has striven for. Oonagh will use her granddaughter Fainne most cruelly to accomplish her ends, and stops at nothing to see her will done.

Will Fainne be strong enough to battle this evil and save those she has come to love?

I have expressed my love for the first two books in the series multiple times here on the blog and I even included Liadan in my list of Characters I’d Set Up With My Friends, that’s how much I love her. So I had high hopes for the third installment in this series, which unfortunately, fell short of my expectations. I wanted to love Fainne as much as I loved Sorcha and Liadan but I just couldn’t. She has just as much strength of character as her grandmother and aunt but she’s more confused in terms of the path that she should follow and the things that she wants in life. Add to that the fact that the love story in this one is more muted that those in the first two. Also, Fainne was raised in seclusion by her father and in her childhood, she lacked the warmth and love provided by the Sevenwaters clan, which I think is a significant aspect of the first two books.

I think that at first, this series was meant to be a trilogy but Juliet Marillier came up with a new installment – Heir to Sevenwaters – and there’s another one coming out later this year. That said, I think that Child of the Prophecy is a necessary part of the whole arc. The storytelling is just as beautiful as with the other books, it’s just that I wasn’t able to connect with the main character. I know I mentioned that the first two books weren’t easy to read because of everything the main characters had to go through and the same goes for this one but since I didn’t connect with Fainne, I wasn’t really rooting for her as much as I’d want to. Still, I highly recommend this series to all epic fantasy fans out there. It’s a lovely, lovely story and it has made me curious about the rest of Juliet Marillier’s novels.

I’m currently reading Heir to Sevenwaters and I have to say that I like it much better than Child of the Prophecy. Go Clodagh!

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier

Son of the Shadows is the sequel to Daughter of the Forest, which I loved so it comes as no surprise that I’m curious about the rest of the books in the Sevenwaters series. I was assured by several book blogger friends that the second book is just as good as the first. Just a warning though, if you haven’t read the first book, there may be some spoilers in this post so I recommend that you read my review of Daughter of the Forest here instead.

Here’s the summary from Macmillan’s website:

Beautiful Sorcha is the courageous young woman who risked all to save her family from a wicked curse and whose love shattered generations of hate and bridged two cultures.

It is from her sacrifice that Sorcha’s brothers were brought home to their ancestral fortress Sevenwaters, and her life has known much joy.

But not all the brothers were able to fully escape the spell that transformed them into swans, and it is left to Sorcha’s daughter Liadan to help fulfill the destiny of the Sevenwaters clan. Beloved child and dutiful daughter, Liadan embarks on a journey that shows her just how hard-won was the peace that she has known all her life.

Liadan will need all of her courage to help save her family, for there are dark forces and ancient powers conspiring to destroy this family’s peace – and their world. And she will need all of her strength to stand up to those she loves best, for in the finding of her own true love, Liadan’s course may doom them all… or be their salvation.

So all of you book blogger friends who said that this one is just as good as the first one, I definitely agree. This book occurs one generation after Daughter of the Forest and focuses on Sorcha and Red’s youngest daughter, Liadan. Liadan is very much her mother’s daughter but at the same time, she has qualities that make her uniquely herself. Like Sorcha, Liadan is a gifted healer and she loves Sevenwaters with all of her heart. She’d be content to stay in Sevenwaters for the rest of her life, even if it means she won’t get married and have a family of her own. Similar to her Uncle Finbar, she has the gift of Sight: there are times when she could she the past and possible events in the future.

Again, this story wasn’t easy to read. Liadan goes through a lot and she fights for her happiness and the safety of her loved ones every step of the way. This book is set in the same highly imaginative and wonderful world that Juliet Marillier created. There’s more Celtic mythology in this than the first book but so deftly written that it almost seems like historical fiction instead of fantasy. Lush and lyrical, Juliet Marillier’s writing will grab you and will not let go even after you finish reading. Stories are an important aspect of the lives in Sevenwaters and I love the little stories told in this novel. Liadan’s Uncle Conor said that one story resonates in different ways to every listener and I think the same goes with novels. We can all read the same novel but what we take from that story can be vastly different.

Anyway, I loved Son of the Shadows as expected. Both Liadan and Bran are wonderful characters. In order to be together, they had to fight even harder than Sorcha and Red. Liadan is strong and I love how she fought for what she wanted even if it went against the wishes of the Fair Folk. She made her own path and this may have consequences but I have a feeling she’ll be able to bear the burden. I have a favorite line in this book and I just have to post it here because it’s not that very spoilery anyway:

I wish – I wish I could dry these tears, I wish I could make this better for you. But I don’t know how.

*sigh* If you’ve read the book, you’d understand why this is such a lovable line. If you haven’t read it, I suggest that you give it a try. I think it can be read on its own but Daughter of the Forest is just as good so why not read it as well? 🙂 I’m planning to read Child of the Prophecy next and I hope to see glimpses of Liadan and Bran in that one. Also, I just noticed that all of the Sevenwaters books involve females. Awesome!

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

I have mentioned Daughter of the Forest several times here on my blog because I’ve heard so many good things about it. Book blogger and Goodreads friends have told me that this novel is one of their favorites. It’s a retelling of the fairy tale The Six Swans and that makes it more interesting for me. This was my Want Books? pick just last week and luckily, Fully Booked had one copy left. Sure it was in their Cebu branch and they had to send it by courier to Manila but what the heck, at least I got a copy. 🙂

Here’s the summary from the Macmillan website and is also the summary at the back of the book:

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

Wow, just wow. I was blown away by this book. I mean I had high expectations because of what everyone said but I was still pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was. A word of caution – this was not an easy book to read. I know that I mostly read YA novels so I just wanted to get this out there. It was hard to read because of everything that Sorcha had to go through. The writing is so vivid and imaginative that your heart will break whenever there’s pain and suffering for the main character, which happens several times over. But this book is well worth the trouble. There were times when I had to stop reading because my heart went out to Sorcha, she suffers when she deserves to be happy. The only other Marillier that I’ve read was Wildwood Dancing and though I enjoyed reading that, I wasn’t impressed. After reading Daughter of the Forest, I can now join the ranks of Marillier fans out there.

I enjoy reading fairy tale retellings because it’s always interesting to see where the author will take the story using the fairy tale as the backbone. This one was no different. Using the gist of The Six Swans fairy tale, Ms. Marillier made the story come alive with a wonderful blend of historical fiction and Celtic mythology. Sorcha is the seventh child of Lord Colum, a seventh son himself and Lord of Sevenwaters. As the only girl, Sorcha is well-protected and beloved by her brothers. I loved how distinct each brother’s personality is and how close-knit they are in spite of their differences. They were all tied together by their bond as siblings. Daughter of the Forest is a wonderful story about love – love for your family, love for the land where you came from and true love, which is elusive and comes only once in a person’s life. That speech towards the end of the book is a winner. I’d love to post it here but I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the book. For those who’ve read it, does “You are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.” ring a bell?

I just got copies of Son of Shadows and Child of the Prophecy from Fully Booked yesterday. Son of the Shadows occurs a generation after Daughter of the Forest and I’ve been assured by Angie and Holly that it’s just as good as the first one in the series. I’m excited to read it!