This intricate and bewitching tale is a delicious introduction to a new series featuring two mysterious characters who are bound together by a challenging set of circumstances. The gradually unfolding histories of these characters paint a portrait of two people who have endured almost unimaginable privation yet struggle to retain their humanity and compassion. Grim’s history is only vaguely alluded to and I suspect that more unexpected revelations will be forthcoming in future stories, but the heart wrenching experiences that have formed the character of the woman known as Blackthorn aptly demonstrate the source of her conflict between what has been demanded of her and her own inclinations. I love the way the action gradually builds and details are revealed a little at a time but I was a bit disconcerted at first by the shifting points of view as each character switches off with another in subsequent chapters. I found Prince Oran to be a little too naive and trusting at first, and the manufactured distance from his best friend to be a bit disingenuous, but he began to grow on me as the story progressed and I loved the twists and turns that were exposed. I think this is a wonderful start to another impressive collection of tales by this talented author and I can’t wait to read more adventures of this intriguing duo.
“Dreamer’s Pool” by Juliet Marillier is an intriguing fantasy story that introduces a couple of prisoners who become known as Blackthorn and Grim. An unwilling bargain with a fey named Conmael results in the pair traveling to a region known as Winterfalls and becoming enmeshed in the lives of those who are under the rule of Prince Oran, and who are planning to help celebrate his upcoming betrothal and nuptials to a woman named Flidais...after he meets her in person for the first time. The problem is that Blackthorn is unwillingly utilizing skills that she has not wielded for more than a year, and she is having trouble suppressing the negative emotions that urge her to abandon those who need her help, including the prince, who is faced with a dilemma when the woman of his dreams does not live up to the picture he has formed of her. Blackthorn is as prickly as her namesake, and it will require teamwork with Grim to solve this and other mysteries, but they can be successful only if she is able to combine her knowledge with information that the locals can provide, which may require more than she is willing to give.
Award-winning author Juliet Marillier ?weaves magic, mythology, and folklore into every sentence on the page” (The Book Smugglers). Now she begins an all-new and enchanting series that will transport readers to a magical vision of ancient Ireland....
In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.
Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.
With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.