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The Well of Shades (Bridei Chronicles) Hardcover – May 15, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
In this captivating third installment in Marillier's historical fantasy series (after 2006's Blade of Fortriu) set in the sixth-century Scottish Highlands and Ireland, Faolan of the Uí Néill clan—bard, assassin, spy and adviser to the Pictish King Bridei of Fortriu—must complete three difficult missions. For Bridei, he must track down a cleric named Colmcille. For his own peace of mind, he must return home to Erin and confront his past. (Ten years earlier Faolan faced an impossible choice that shattered his family and left his eldest brother dead.) For his deceased comrade Deord, he must bring news of the warrior's death to the man's family in Cloud Hill, a task that lands Deord's impoverished 16-year-old daughter, Eile, and her toddler in Faolan's care. Faolan brings Eile back to the court of King Bridei, where they find themselves enmeshed in a plot against the king's half-fey son, Derelei. Despite some anachronistic instances of liberated female behavior and a few discordant modern colloquialisms, this episode will appeal to series fans and new readers alike. (May)
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"Fans of historical fantasy will devour this one and wait eagerly for its sequels."--VOYA on The Dark Mirror
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If you like fastasies based on history these are the books to read-- read all three 'The Dark Mirror', Blade of Fortriu' and this one 'well of Shades'--
would also recommend her other books
Well Of Shades - Book Three Of The Bridei Chronicles
Appropriate for 13 and up.
As I hint here, the May-December romance between the sixteen-year-old Eile and her father's friend Faolan is only one plotline that develops along the path to another plotline in The Well of Shades. Faolan gathers information for King Bridei while out and about, and brings back news of a Christian missionary's movements and influence. What readers may find most intriguing about this storyline is its foundation in historical fact. As with her first two novels in the series, Marillier pulls from the sparse history of the picts, weaving a fiction story among the bits of facts researchers know and "good guesses" scholars and writers can make. She mixes in a worried druid in search of answers and absolution; a toddler mage with powers neither he nor his parents truly know how to control; a devious, bored princess; and some settings in juxtaposition to each other (such as Eile's experience with the "noble" lady, Aine, at Blackthorn Rise in contrast to her experience with the queen, Tuala, at White Hill). What Marillier ends up with is a tale with many layers that feed into one another wonderfully. As with her first two novels in the series, her descriptions may seem tedious at times, but they give a reader a very deep feel for nuances of the world these characters live in. Something I did not notice in the first two novels, but found distracting in The Well of Shades, was Marillier's use of repetition. She reviewed material often enough that it stood out to me. It reminded me of later Terry Goodkind narratives.
Overall I enjoyed The Well of Shades immensely and was pleased with the way Marillier brought families together, tied up the story of Tuala and her parentage, gave insidious characters their due, etc., but I feel I must give new readers a warning. While the relationship between Tuala and Bridei bordered on "unease" for me at first due to their close upbringing as almost brother and sister, it is something the reader can get past pretty easily. But in this third novel, the underlying theme of incest nagged at the back of my mind. Sensitive readers may be uncomfortable if they can't get past a sixteen-year-old girl being abused by her uncle, Bridei and Tuala having a second child, or Tuala sharing/reliving with her father a vision in which he performs the sexual act in which she was conceived. While none of the sex scenes in this novel are explicit, the "unconventional" ones could turn off sensitive readers. I would like to point out that Marillier's use of them is sparse and essential to the plot(s). Fantasy readers should be so delighted with her world and her fiction that the minor discomfort, if noticed at all, will be shortlived.
From Sandy Lender, "Some days, you just want the dragon to win."