At the heart of this surprisingly accomplished first novel, first book of the Sevenwaters trilogy, is a retelling of an ancient Celtic legend. Marillier's story, however, is much more than a slightly disguised fairy tale. Young Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Irish Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, a domain well protected from invading Saxons and Britons by dense forest where, legend says, fey Deirdre, the Lady of the Forest, walks the woodland paths at night. Colum is first and foremost a warrior, bent on maintaining his lands against all outsiders. Not all of his sons are so bound to the old ways, and that family friction leads to outright disobedience when Sorcha and her brother Finbar help a Briton captive escape from Colum's dungeon. Soon after, Colum brings home a new wife who ensorcels everyone she can't otherwise manipulate. By her spell Sorcha's brothers are cursed to become swans. Only Sorcha, hiding deep in the forest, can break the spell by painfully weaving shirts of starwort nettle--but then Sorcha is captured by Britons and taken away across the sea. Determined to break the curse despite her captivity, Sorcha continues to work, little expecting that ultimately she will have to chose between saving her brothers and protecting the Briton lord who has defended her throughout her trials. Marillier's writing is deft and heartfelt, bypassing the usual bombast of fantasy fireworks for a rich, magical story of loyalty and love. --Charlene Brusso
From Library Journal
As the only daughter and youngest child of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, Sorcha grows up protected and pampered by her six older brothers. When a sorceress's evil magic ensorcels Colum's sons, transforming them into swans, only Sorcha's efforts can break the curse. Marillier's first novel uses a familiar Celtic legend to tell the story of a young woman's sacrifice for the sake of those she loves and her own discovery of unexpected joy in the midst of sorrow. The author's keen understanding of Celtic paganism and early Irish Christianity adds texture to a rich and vibrant novel that belongs in most fantasy collections.
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