Tag Archives: THE SIX SWANS

SON OF THE SHADOWS by Juliet Marillier

I didn’t think it possible that Juliet Marillier could top her achievement of DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST, the first of the Sevenwaters Trilogy, which is also a re-telling of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale THE SIX SWANS.

But I found SON OF THE SHADOWS, the second book of the Sevenwaters Trilogy even more gripping. Lady Sorcha, the heroine of the first book, is now a mother to three children. Her eldest, Niamh, is a stunning beauty, with a river of golden red hair and intense blue eyes. The other two, Sean and Liadan are twins, both dark, and slight like their mother.  Lady Liadan has followed in her mother’s footsteps and become an accomplished healer, and this book is told from her point of view.

As before, Ms. Marillier presents us with tough, believable characters, power politics, and difficult heart-wrenching decisions that her characters have to make. But most glorious of all, is her delicious prose.

 

“That spring we had visitors. Here in the heart of the great forest, the old ways were strong despite the communities of men and women that now spread over our land, their Christian crosses stark symbols of a new faith. From time to time, travelers would bring across the sea tales of great ills done to folk who dared keep the old traditions. There were cruel penalties, even death, for those who left an offering maybe, for the harvest gods or thought to weave a simple spell for good fortune or use a potion to bring back a faithless sweetheart. The druids were all slain or banished over there.”

 

Her ear is faultless and the pacing and rhythm of the words give a timeless, haunting quality to this novel, which is carefully shrouded in the mists of the past. Here is another example.

 

“We walked down the avenues of oaks, as golden leaves spiraled around us in a freshening breeze and squirrels busied themselves, preparing for the dark time. We went by the lake’s gray waters and up the course of the seventh stream, swelling with autumn rains to a miniature torrent. It was a steep climb over tumbled stones whose surfaces were curiously patterned, as if some strange finger had marked each with a secret language, whose codes existed only in the mind of one long departed.”

 

Perfect. Five stars.

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DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST by Juliet Mariller

It takes eight pages for conflict to erupt in DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST, for the first plot point to be anchored to the story, when Finbur quietly defies his father’s anger and refuses to go fight with him.

 

But it doesn’t matter. The prose is gorgeous and well-fitted for this story, a re-telling of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale THE SIX SWANS. Let me give you an example:

 

I don’t remember Finbur answering, but later that day, as dusk was falling, he took me back to the lakeshore. In the half light over the water, we saw the swans come home. The last low traces of sun caught a white movement in the darkening sky.

 

Beautiful. The prose has a dream-like quality well-fitted to a folk tale, or a story of ancient Ireland where Juliet Mariller has chosen to set this tale.

 

As you are well aware, I am interested in craft, and in seeing what a truly wonderful writer can do. Here is an example of the sheer power of well-chosen words. An example of how you can get away without conflict, or an obvious hook, as long as you have the talent to weave a spell and send the reader into a trance. Five stars.

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