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 "The Dark Mirror" by Juliet Marillier

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PostSubject: "The Dark Mirror" by Juliet Marillier   Tue 15 Sep 2009, 11:39 am

Book of the Month

'The Dark Mirror' By Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is an Australian author. Having read ‘Wildwood Dancing’ and ‘Cybele’s Secret’, I had already placed her among my favourite authors and was convinced that she couldn’t get any better. I was wrong. ‘The Dark Mirror’ is the first in a series called the Bridei Chronicles, which focuses on Bridei’s life.
‘The Dark Mirror’ takes place in Fortrui (now known as Scotland), in 550 AD. The story follows Bridei, a five year old boy, taken away from his family in Gwynedd, and becomes the foster son of Broichan; a powerful druid in the King’s service.
Bridei resides at Broichan’s abode; Pitnochie, learning to become a warrior and scholar, during which time he gains a bodyguard; Donal, and a foster sister; Tuala.
Tuala is found under mysterious circumstances one year after Bridei arrives at Pitnochie. She is one of the Good Folk, the fey creatures that inhabit the wildwood. Although Bridei loves her as a sister, Broichan disapproves, for she is an unexpected problem to Broichan and his fellow councilors plans, that concern Bridei and the future of Fortrui.
While Broichan teaches Bridei the traditional pagan ways, change is sweeping through Fortriu.
As the years pass, the lands south of Fortrui are invaded by the Gaels, and the Priteni culture and way of life is under threat from not only the Gaels, but its neighbour, Circinn, which has come under the Christian faith.
Bridei, now a young man, must shoulder the plans and ambitions of Broichan, his trusted mentor and guide. But Tuala doesn’t fit into Broichan’s scheme. Tuala and Bridei’s love for each other has grown over the years, and both Bridei and Tuala need each other.
But what must Bridei sacrifice to achieve his own dreams, keep the country he loves together, and repel the Gaels?

I love this book. It has everything you could ask for: action, romance, betrayal and a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Marillier has managed to bring to life ancient Britain, which is believable, exciting and beautiful.
All the characters show depth; whether it be Broichan, while cool and calm fosters a fatherly love for Bridei, or Tuala and her struggles to be accepted, and not treated as a dangerous creature from the wildwoods.
Each character seems to have their own ulterior motive, and at King Drust the Bull’s Court, plots and schemes dirty the waters and reveal the darker sides of nobility and the quest for power. This makes the book even more interesting, because it shows true human character, and what really would go on in a royal court.
I also think what makes this book interesting is that Bridei was an actual person – he did rule Fortriu, and while some characters are fictitious, many were real people. Granted, some license has been taken with the events and the magical beings involved, but the basic plot is very similar to Bridei’s early life.

Since as this is one of my favourite books, I can’t really give any negative criticisms…

So for me, this book is four and a half stars, because it’s just so wonderfully written, and has such an epic plot that it kept me entertained throughout the entire book.
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