Kirsten Reviews: Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier
Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier
Bestselling author Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series has been praised as a “magnificent saga” (Alernative Worlds) that is a “gripping tale of enduring love” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Marillier returns to Sevenwaters with the story of a young woman destined to unlock the secrets of the Otherworld…
Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a
child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After
ten years, she’s returning home, having grown into a courageous,
forthright woman with a special gift for gentling difficult animals. But
while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, fearing
the shadows of her past.
Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey
prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son, married to
Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac
Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border
to vanish—only to allow their murdered bodies to be found, one by one.
When Maeve finds the body of one of the missing men in a remote part of
the woods, she and her brother Finbar embark on a journey that may
bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign, or lead to a hideous death. If
she is successful, Maeve may open the door to a future she has not dared
to believe possible…
Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier is the latest in the Heir to Sevenwaters series. As in the other books in this world, it deal with the way that humans and fey living in the Sevenwaters Forest deal with one another. The author summarizes some of the other plot elements as both healing and sacrifice. Those are tall orders, but with the right scale, it comes off neatly and in a way that will please readers of this series.
In this book, the protagonist is Maeve, first seen in ‘Child of Prophecy. She was the victim of a fire at a young age, and went to live with her aunt, who happens to be a formidable healer. This book sees her returning to Ireland, where the Forest of Sevenwaters is located, in order to help with a nervous horse on a long trip by sea. If this sounds kind of hokey to a reader, they should know that Maeve has the ability to both comfort and control animals. But, her confidence is shaken, as is her belief that she will be able to move past the trauma she’s suffered is immediately shaken when she arrives in Sevenwaters.
Lord Sean, Maeve’s father is having trouble with Mac Dara, a fey prince whose own son put aside his fey heritage in order to marry into the Sevenwaters family (shades of Arwen and Aragorn from Lord of the Rings). Instead of being resigned to his son’s choice, or even happy, Mac Dara is doing his best to force him to return to the Otherworld (where the fey reside) to be his successor. The disappearance of a nearby chieftain’s sons, as well as other men ratchets up the tension, then the bodies begin to turn up. This sends Maeve and her brother Finbar onto a course to make things right. This brings out the issue of two people of different ages having to learn to trust the skills of the other, and that's a tricky thing to balance, but it's done well here.
One thing that's impressive about this book is the fact that Maeve, who has much better control over her abilities than ever before, still suffers the effects from her burns. The balance of skill and disability is dealt with well, and realistically. It's too rare to see a character not immediately overcome something like this, and instead the audience learns what it's like for Maeve, who, because of the fire, has scars, including hands that are permanently contorted into claws. This makes everyday tasks more difficult, and it's interesting to see the ways in which somebody might deal with something like this before modern medicine. In addition, the author considers the fact that Maeve's injuries and inability to do many of the tasks common to a young woman of the time make her less desirable for suitors of the time period. The way that this is handled is interesting, taking into account what the reality of such a situation might be, but at the same time, not sacrificing Maeve's own strength of will and character.
The combination of plot as well as a unique perspective makes this a fitting conclusion to Maeve's story, as well as a good stopping point for this series.