Tag Archives: Juliet Marillier

Friday Faceoff – Man is a knot into which relationships are tied…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer and is currently hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog. This week the theme is a cover featuring a knot or knots, so I’ve selected Daughter of the Forest – Book 1 of the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier.


This cover, produced by Tom Doherty Associates in February 2002, has a lovely Celtic feel about it – and the reason why I’ve selected it, is for the Celtic knot detail on the F. I really like this cover, as the cover content and overall feel aligns well with the beautifully told story. The only thing that spoils it is that ugly red text box running along the bottom.


This Portuguese edition was produced by Bertrand Editora 2002 has a similarly lyrical feel. The artwork is lovely and I particularly like the moody colour palatte of greens and blues, while the Celtic knotwork and the swan motif top and bottom is delightful. My only grumble about this one is the bright orange font, which is jarring. Despite that, this is the one I like best – although this week there aren’t any I dislike.


Published in 2001 by HarperCollins, this cover features a forest exactly as I’d envisaged the one within the book – dark and full of gnarled tree roots and tangled vegetation. It’s nice to have the brothers on the river bank, too. While I appreciate why we have the scene with the swans flying above the knotwork, I do think it gives the cover a rather odd appearance.


This HarperCollins edition, published in October 2015, is clearly going for a more modern feel with the plain black cover featuring the swan. It is certainly eye-catching, but if I didn’t know this wonderful book is the first in an awesome series, I don’t think I would pick it off the shelves.


This German edition, produced by Knaur in April 2011, is also lovely. The golden suffused light as the backdrop works really well and I like the fact that Sorcha is in the background, with the swans in the foreground swimming towards her. The only thing that isn’t quite right is her reflection. Which is your favourite?


Friday Faceoff – Snap!


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is a mirror image or reflection, so I’ve chosen The Dark Mirror – Book 1 of The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier.


This cover, produced by Tor Books in June 2006, is my least favourite. While the hint of a reflection and the gnarled tree behind the seated girl does give a sense of the otherworldly tone that pervades this outstanding historical fantasy series, it doesn’t do it justice. I also think the lettering is clunky and unsuited to the genre and content.


This edition was produced by Tor books in March 2006 and is far more appropriate. The lone tree, reflected in the water in a wild landscape beautifully evokes the mood of the book and would immediately have me wanting to pick it up. This one is my favourite.


Published in 2007 by Bertrand Editora, this Portuguese edition has also manages to capture the magical sense of the book, though I’m not quite sure what that fraying piece of lace at the top is all about… But those brooding trees reflected in the lake are very effective.


This Australian edition, published in November 2007 by Pan Australia, is also effective and haunting. I particularly like the title font, which fits the period without being too fussy or taking away from that stunning landscape – this is a very close second for me. Which is your favourite?

Review of The Dark Mirror – Book One of The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier


Set in the far north of England, in approximately 500AD, this is the story of the embattled Priteni. Marillier based them on the Picts, who were wiped out of history by the end of the Dark Ages. Recent archaeology reveals them to have had a sophisticated society with developed art and a deep religious belief and interest in the animals and plants around them.

darkmirrorMarillier, as ever, weaves her knowledge and interest into a compelling story. Her version of High Fantasy pulled me back into regularly reading this genre and although there are others who do it equally well, there is no one in my opinion who does it better.

Marillier normally writes in first person POV, with a female protagonist. In this tale she has gone inside the head of Bridei, a young boy destined for great things. Taken from his family to live with the forbidding Druid, Broichan, in his structured household at the age of four, Bridei is often lonely and frightened. Until one freezing December night, he discovers a child on the doorstep. Bridei already knows enough to realise that she is no human baby, and immediately conjures a basic hearth charm to protect her from being rejected by the other members of the household. Fortunately the dour Broichan is away at the time, for the old man instantly dislikes and distrusts this unwanted intrusion onto his ambitious plans for Bridei and his training as a king-in-waiting. This doesn’t stop Tuala growing into a fey, adventurous child who adores Bridei. He, in turn, finds that she is the only person he can confide in. But, where does Tuala fit in Broichan’s grand schemes for Bridei? And what happens when she inevitably gets in his way?

If you haven’t yet encountered Marillier’s excellent Sevenwaters series, but enjoy well written, tightly plotted Fantasy in a strong historical setting, then I highly recommend this book. Marillier’s knowledge about the time shines through every page. Authentic details litter the everyday doings of these characters, without impeding the pace or obstructing the storyline.

You won’t find a host of sword-waving heroes dripping in lots of blood and gore. But when Marillier does give you action, the encounters seem all the more desperate because you really care about the characters. And war is constantly in the background. There is talk of it; discussions about how to deal with the aftermath by old warriors; long gruelling hours of practice and drills. Unlike many other Fantasy tales of derring-do, however, a dread of warfare and its cost to the society is depicted very clearly by those with most to lose. Interwoven amongst the everyday, is a strong blend of magic and Otherness that fans of Marillier will recognise. The power and ability carried by a few comes at high price. Magic is about blood and sacrifice and most right thinking people avoid it whenever they can.

This is a book about conflict. Circinn’s king has turned to the new Christian faith, creating a rift with other rulers who still hold to the Druidic traditions. This schism creates opportunities for the marauding Gaels. But there are also tensions on a more personal level. Ambitious contenders target Bridei. High-born women destined to be married off to secure treaties and produce heirs are bitter at their fate.

This is no dewy-eyed gloss on a lost, glorious past but far more grittily political and aware. I am just waiting for the library to send me Blade of Fortriu, so I won’t have to wait too long for the next slice of life in this gripping series.