Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
Published: 2002 (first published in 2000)
It is from her sacrifice that her brothers were brought home to Sevenwaters and her life has known much joy. But not all the brothers were able to escape the spell that transformed them into swans, and those who did were all more–and less–than they were before the change.
It is left to Sorcha’s daughter Liadan who will take up the tale that the Sevenwaters clan is destined to fulfill. Beloved child, dutiful daughter, she embarks on a journey that opens her eyes to the wonders of the world around her…and shows her just how hard-won was the peace that she has known all her life.
Liadan will need all of her courage to help save her family, for there are forces far darker than anyone chould have guessed and ancient powers conspiring to destroy this family’s peace–and their world. And she will need the strength to stand up to those she loves best, for in the finding of her own true love, Liadan’s course may doom them all…or be their salvation.
Liadan is the beautiful younger daughter of Sorcha and Red, legends in their own fairytale story of the Sevenwaters clan. She loves to assist her mother with herbs and healing, speaks telepathically with her twin brother Sean, and attempts to rein in her older sister Niamh’s wild ways. But turbulent times crash into the family just when all seems to be well, and Liadan is trapped in the middle of an ancient prophecy. She is determined to make the right choices for her family, but with every step she takes her course appears to bring them further into darkness.
Events pertaining to Daughter of the Forest are within this review.
The second book in the Sevenwaters series is just as breathtaking, beautiful, and magical as the first, featuring another strong female protagonist who draws upon strength of the mind and spirit rather than physical qualities to combat her enemies.
Liadan is a fierce and stubborn chatterbox, and she will tell you what she thinks of your decisions and actions if she believes it will improve your character or the family. She’d be a good friend to have around — patient and loving, while still practical and headstrong. She’s a great blend of Red and Sorcha, and that makes her flawed. While Sorcha is still one of my favorite characters in literature (right up there with Jane Eyre!), she was almost too perfect. Liadan makes loads of mistakes, to the point where it really does seem like the family is doomed. She is observant, aware of her mistakes, aware of how people treat her and how she treats others, and how sometimes similar situations and others’ reactions to them can be hypocritical. Take this, the family’s reaction to Liadan’s pregnancy:
I was aware, constantly, of how different this was from Niamh’s experience. For my sister there had been the cold disapproval, the harsh censure, the shutting out, the hasty, forced marriage. For me there was simply acceptance, as if my fatherless child were already part of the family at Sevenwaters.
While Son of the Shadows was entertaining and fantastic, and Liadan was an excellent character on her own, I had a hard time getting into the romance. It felt more like a means to an end for me, and less epic and profound as I was led to believe. Much of Liadan’s motivation and decisions were stemmed from this love, so I was pretty miffed by how central of a role it played when I wasn’t convinced of it.
The prophecy from the first book is becoming a reality in this one, and it leaves the reader hanging, ready to read book three to see what happens next. There was more about the curse and the characters that come into play (such as, ah-ha!, the son of the shadows), more strategizing and skirmishes, more storytelling and culture. Sorcha was on a quest, separated from her family; Liadan is in the thick of it, a key player in the prophecy and all it entails.
This qualifies as book 2 of 9 in the Flights of Fantasy / Gabaldon-and-Marillier challenge.
This qualifies as book 4 of 12 in the Rock My TBR challenge.