From Publishers Weekly
In this captivating historical fantasy, the sequel to Wolfskin
(2003), Australian author Marillier sweeps the reader to Dark Age Britain's northernmost islands, where life is hard and opportunistic raiders have forced change on the peace-loving, magic-believing inhabitants. When 18-year-old Thorvald reads a letter from his unknown true father, Somerled, his world collapses. Somerled was exiled forever after slaying his chieftain brother, Ulf. Fearing that he may be subject to the same curse that afflicted his father ("I'm the son of some evil madman, a crazed killer"), Thorvald decides to search for the disgraced Somerled. He persuades his friend Sam the fisherman to transport him by boat to the island where he believes his father to be. Unbeknownst to both Sam and Thorvald, a young woman, Creidhe, stows away on the boat. Creidhe becomes a key player in the stirring events that unfold when they reach the Northern Isles. Though this artful mix of myth and magic starts out a bit slowly, the pace picks up nicely in the novel's second third and barrels onward to a rousing finish.
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*Starred Review* The daughter of her people's leaders, 16-year-old Creidhe is beautiful, highly skilled in midwifery and the domestic arts, completely qualified to be the perfect wife. Unfortunately, though she has loved moody Thorvald since childhood, his name isn't among those her parents suggest as suitors. And then Thorvald discovers that his father is the infamous, brutal king, Somerled. Feeling cursed to become a tyrant himself, Thorvald embarks for the distant islands in which Somerled may have resided. Creidhe stows away in his boat, which is swept off-course to the Long Knife people, childless warriors haunted by the Unspoken, possessors of powerful magic who suck the life out of newborns. Years ago the Long Knife stole priest and seer Foxmask, who anchored Unspoken society, and, until Foxmask is returned, must pay with their infants' lives. Kept from recommencing the journey with Thorvald, Creidhe slowly realizes that the Long Knife intend to give her to the Unspoken for a horrific mating ritual and to bear a new Foxmask. Crucial elements of the story then come sharply into focus: the tenuous peace between two opposing peoples in Creidhe's homeland; her friendship with a Thorvald fixated on finding his father and emerging as leader of the Long Knife; and the compelling inner call Creidhe feels to go to a deserted island whereon lie danger and destiny. Another great story full of well-developed characters from this fine fantasist. Paula LuedtkeCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved