Review: The Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier

In response to my review of the Hunger Games Trilogy, there were several recommendations for continued reading. “If you liked this, you will love…”

Already having a considerably long “to be read” list, it generally takes me ages to get around to a recommended book, and I often forget about it before I get a chance to read it. But when my aunt Esther recommended I try the Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier, and her recommendation was quickly seconded by her daughter, I was intrigued. Esther has recommended many books to me over the years (including one of my top 5 favourites, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Prodigal Summer) and I think it is safe to say her taste is as close to mine as anyone else I know.

 

Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: Tor Books (April 18 2000)

ISBN-10: 031284879X

ISBN-13: 978-0312848798

 

 

Book One is Daughter of the Forest – a name that sounded very familiar, and with good reason. There was a copy on the bookshelf in my spare room. One of many books sent my way by helpful family and friends many years ago, when I was home sick or hospitalized. There are still a few kicking around that for one reason or another, I hadn’t read, yet wasn’t ready to clear off the shelf. I know each will have its day.

Daughter of the Forest is an eerily familiar tale, based loosely on the story of The Six Swans (Grimm’s Fairy Tales, also retold by Hans Christian Andersen and others). I do love the weaving of traditional stories into new works, and this was done so well I almost didn’t realize I had read the tale before.

Sorcha, youngest child and only daughter of the Sevenwaters family, watches her brothers be turned into swans by their evil stepmother, and is cursed herself. She must live in complete silence, while she spins and weaves six shirts from stinging nettles in order to break the curse on her brothers.  Add to this a long-standing family feud fought in both Ireland and Britain, and you’ve got a fantastic fantasy novel. The bond between the siblings, and their devotion to one another as they endure one hardship after another was heartbreaking.

 

Hardcover: 462 pages

Publisher: Tor Books (May 1 2001)

ISBN-10: 0312848803

ISBN-13: 978-0312848804

 

 

Book Two, Son of the Shadows, takes place a generation later, as Sorcha’s daughters continue to shape the family’s destiny. Eldest daughter Niamh is sent away to a strategic marriage with an important but cruel ally, and cannot forgive her family for the choice they made for her. Meanwhile, younger daughter Liadan is kidnapped by the gang of her family’s enemy, The Painted Man, and in the process learns about the darker consequences of the choices her parents made 20 years earlier.

 

Hardcover: 528 pages

Publisher: Tor Books (Mar 5 2002)

ISBN-10: 0312848811

ISBN-13: 978-0312848811

 

 

In the final* novel, Child of the Prophecy, Liadan’s son is identified as the man the Sevenwaters family has been waiting for. The one who will finally win back the sacred lands the family was entrusted to guard. War is only months away, and with the Child of the Prophecy on their side, Sevenwaters cannot lose. What they don’t know, is that after fleeing her marriage many years ago, Niamh also had a daughter, and her daughter has an important role to play before the saga is over.

I am of two minds about fantasy novels. I love a good one, and can disappear for days at a time when one has caught my attention. But there is just so much bad fantasy out there, that I have a hard time identifying myself as a fan of the genre, which inevitably leads to people listing book after book that I didn’t like enough to get past the first few chapters (or worse, the back cover). Recommendations from trusted sources are necessary for this genre! Thank you Esther & Allison, I thoroughly enjoyed the Sevenwaters books, and look forward to more.

* While originally written as a trilogy, two more books have been added: Seer of Sevenwaters, and Heir of Sevenwaters. I will be checking these out soon, and hope they are as good as the earlier stories.

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