Monday, October 20, 2008

The Witches of Eileanan / Dragonclaw By Kate Forsyth (The Witches of Eileanan: Book 1)

By Kate Forsyth

Isabeau the Foundling, discovered as a babe in the roots of a tree, is raised by an old wood witch in the shadow of Dragonclaw, mountain of the dragons. From Meghan of the Beasts, Isabeau learns herb-lore and the languages of animals, but dreams of the old days, when witches were the greatest power in the land. Before she was born, an evil sorceress cast a spell on the Rìgh, winning his love and turning him against the Coven. The great Witch Towers are now all abandoned ruins, magical creatures are hunted down and the Coven’s ancient wisdom is lost.

Only the Cripple, enigmatic leader of the rebels, fights to undermine the Banrìgh’s power as her dark plans slowly come to fruition. Little does Isabeau know that she is to play a key role in the battle against the Ensorcellor, for she has a strange and mysterious destiny.

As Isabeau is initiated into the Coven on her sixteenth birthday, soldiers sent to hunt down dragons stumble across the clandestine ceremony, and her peaceful life is torn apart by blood and fire. Alone she must set out on a perilous quest that will bring her face to face with her own destiny. For Meghan must go and confront the dragons and, afraid she will never return, entrusts the sacred Key of the Coven to Isabeau, who must carry it to safety. Without the Key, the witches can never release the Lodestar, an sphere of great power that was locked away on the Day of Betrayal.

Meanwhile, the sea-dwelling Fairgean stir, children vanish in the night, and the dragons - the most ancient and dangerous wisdom in the land - rise against the Ensorcellor.*Blurb source Author*

The Witches of Eileanan / Dragonclaw By Kate Forsyth (The Witches of Eileanan: Book 1)
| Genre: Epic Fantasy
| ISBN-10: 0451456890
| ISBN-13: 978-0451456892
| Publisher: Roc (July 1, 1998)
| Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
| Random House au Info
| Source: Personal copy
| Rating: 5 Stars

Fantasy Series Book Review by Mulluane
In the past the witches of Eileanan were revered. Great towers held stores of knowledge and power, places where even the elite sent their children to be trained in the ways of magic. However, all that changed on the Day of Reckoning. Maya the Unknown, having seduced the Righ with both wiles and magic, becomes the Banrigh of Eileanan. That event marks the beginning of the end for the Covens. It all comes to a head on the Day o' Betrayal when the Righ orders his Red Guards to destroy the great towers and kill all of the witches. Nevertheless, not all is lost, some of the witches survived and for 16 years a rebellion has been forming and a new Day of Reckoning is at hand.

The story centers around four main characters. Megan o' the Beasts, Keybearer of the Covens, Isabeau, her apprentice, Iseult, the twin sister Isabeau has never met and Prince Lachlan who has his own very good reason to hate Maya the Unknown. A host of characters, both mundane and magical, will assist in their quest to recover the Lodestone and bring down the evil reign of Maya the Unknown.

Wiccan witchcraft, magical creatures, a Celtic type world, and dragons, what is not to love! No, it is not original; yes, it has all been done before, but what an enjoyable combination. Kate Forsyth creates characters that you can sympathize with right from page one. She even manages to make you wonder if Maya is not quite as evil as she first appears. Good stuff!

Now this is not to say that the book is all sweetness and light. It does unfortunately have some annoyances. For one, the dialog takes a bit more concentration to follow then I generally like to use. It is not THAT hard, but it can be distracting. The twins themselves, and the Prince, have their annoying moments too, but I believe that is by design. Let's face it; most teenage girls can be rather annoying at times. (My sincere apology to any 16 year old reading this, but I am a mom, and trust me, most 16 year old girls do have some annoying moments!) In addition, the Prince does have some basis to feel sorry for himself, but hopefully he will get over it before the desire to smack him overwhelms me. Anyway...minor faults aside, I loved this book.

The pace is up and down, but that is typical of a first book where a good deal of world building needs to take place. The plot is not very original, though I liked Kate Forsyth's take on the dragons. The characters need a bit more fleshing out, but again, it is only the first book. The setting is a pleasant change. I do not usually see this type of setting outside of alternate history stories like the done to death King Arthur tales. It was a fast, light read with characters I enjoyed spending time with and I am looking forward to book two.

As far as content, it is mild. There are some battle scenes, some torture, but nothing overly graphic. No romance yet, but I have a feeling it is coming later. This is a six book series and I do plan to review them all. There is another series called Rhiannon's Ride that is written in this same world but with different characters. I do suggest reading Witches of Eileanan first, it is my opinion the background found in this series enhances the next. As far as age group goes, it starts out with the main focus on two 16 year olds so I'm going with a very general 15+ though a mature 13 year old could probably handle the torture scene just fine. Now on to book two!

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Librarything Rating 3.9/5

Amazon Rating 4.3 out of 5 stars
(109 customer reviews)

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Epic Fantasy Book Review of The Witches of Eileanan / Dragonclaw (The Witches of Eileanan: Book 1) by Kate Forsyth
Reviewed by Mulluane on October 20, 2008
Rating: 5 of 5

Mulluane is a 56-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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