THE DARK MIRROR is the first book in Juliet Marillier's Bridei Chronicles.Bridei is a young nobleman fostered at the home of Broichan, one of the most powerful druids in the land. His earliest memories are not of hearth and kin but of this dark stranger who while not unkind is mysterious in his ways. The tasks that he sets Bridei appear to have one goal-to make him a vessel for some distant purpose. What that purpose is Bridei cannot fathom but he trusts the man and is content to learn all he can about the ways of the world.But something happens that will change Bridei's world forever...and possible wreck all of Broichan's plans. For Bridei finds a child on their doorstep on a bitter MidWinter Eve, a child seemingly abandoned by the fairie folk. It is uncommonly bad luck to have truck with the Fair Folk and all counsel the babe's death. But Bridei sees an old and precious magic at work here and heedless of the danger fights to save the child. Broichan relents but is wary.The two grow up together and as Bridei comes to manhood he sees the shy girl Tuala blossom into a beautiful woman. Broichan sees the same process and feels only danger...for Tuala could be a key part in Bridei's future...or could spell his doom. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
Having given pre-Celtic Scotland a once-over in Wolfskin (2003) and Foxmask (2004), Australian author Marillier returns with a much more in-depth study that draws on what little history is known and surrounds it with the pretty boy-meets-girl story of Bridei, a boy raised by a group of wily councilors determined to mold him into a king who can reunite their divided land, and Tuala, his fey-born adopted sister who runs wild while he studies and is outcast where he is welcome. No one familiar with the current crop of historical fantasy will be in the least surprised by Bridei's extraordinary ability to command both men and magic, or Tuala's struggle to be accepted as a strong-willed and intelligent woman in an alien and prejudiced society. Yet somehow, carefully rounding her characters and paying exquisite attention to detail, Marillier pulls it off so well that you completely forget you've read essentially the same story a hundred times before. Fans of Judith Tarr, in whose footsteps this tale meticulously treads, will be enthralled, and the happy ending--all too rare in first volumes of series, and only slightly overshadowed by the inevitable dark portents--will encourage new readers to seek out both future installments and past publications.
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June 12, 2006
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