Misfortune of Vision by Christy Nicholas,
Book #4 in The Druid’s Brooch Series
Historical fantasy set in 12th century Ireland
~ Prophecy can be dangerous ~
In 12th century Ireland, Orlagh has been Seer to her king for forty years. He doesn’t want to hear her prophecies of war and destruction, and dismisses her efforts to warn him. Therefore, she is determined to fulfill her own quest: to find a worthy heir for her magical brooch.
In the course of events, she must pass judgment on a thief, escape a Norman war camp, and battle wits with a Fae lord. She receives some prophecy of her own and enlists the help of a grizzled old warrior, who happens to be a long–time friend.
Celtic Fairies, Fables, and Folklore! Bestselling author (top #100 Amazon Canada, #1 in Paranormal Fantasy, Amazon Canada)
Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, is an author, artist and accountant. After she failed to become an airline pilot, she quit her ceaseless pursuit of careers that begin with ‘A’, and decided to concentrate on her writing. Since she has Project Completion Disorder, she is one of the few authors with NO unfinished novels.
Christy has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she’s a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were.
She wants to expose the incredible beauty in this world, hidden beneath the everyday grime of familiarity and habit, and share it with others. She uses characters out of time and places infused with magic and myth.
Christy emailed me in December to ask if I’d review her novel, the forth in The Druid’s Brooch Series. It’s an historical fantasy set in mid-twelfth century Ulster. Orlagh is the Royal Seer but her cousin, the chief, refuses to listen to her visions of war. The Normans are moving north from Wexford under Sir John De Courci. Orlagh is getting on in years, struggling after each Vision, and needs an heir to pass her brooch on to. She has a fosterling called Clodagh, but the girl doesn’t seem to be interested in anything, doesn’t speak much.
After a quest to find her grandchildren, Orlagh discovers her grandson Declan in the Norman’s camp. But he’s unworthy of her brooch, grasping and under the influence of a fae-touched woman, Hillevi. Desperate to heal her fosterling and find an heir, Orlagh goes to a stone circle and makes a deal with a fae.
Meanwhile, her chief has proven himself craven, running away in the night, before the Normans lay siege and attach their hill fort. Orlagh finds her friends on the road and helps lead them to safety, after which she fulfils her part of the bargain and finds her heir.
I started reading this book on Wednesday, had to charge my tablet up yesterday and then sat down on Friday afternoon, thinking I’d read a few chapters. I was hooked and read 75% of it in a few hours. Time got away from me. The intertwining stories of Orlagh and her grandson add interest to the narrative, and a bit of misdirection and mystery. The characters are well-written and rounded. I love that Clodagh slowly comes out of her shell with the care she receives. The mix of folklore-magic and history works really well in the context of the plot and the descriptions of the people, houses and countryside ring true.
I can’t say how true though because Irish history isn’t something I’ve ever looked into. Did Gaels still live in hillforts in 1150? Were they Catholic by then, or still Irish Christians – as exemplified by the monks of Iona? I didn’t like the bishop, he was a pimple-nosed twit out for money from the chief, but that’s to be expected. Orlagh does put him in his place and when he rails that she brought the Normans to Ulster, an nice Ostman (someone descended from the Norwegian raiders/settlers) deals with him for disrespecting the ‘Norn’. Were the Gael and Ostman communities as separated as they seem to be in the book?
I don’t know much about Irish history, although, of course I know that Celtic Christianity, a form of Christianity that has more in common with Greek Orthodox traditions than Roman Catholic, spread from Ireland in the sixth century along with the Scotti to northern Britain, and that the great centres of learning and religion were among the Isles, especially Iona, from the western kingdom of Strathclyde the Scotti moved east, into the Cumbric kingdom and then into Bernicia. I know the Norwegian Vikings raided and then settled in the north-east in the ninth/tenth centuries, where they built a trading empire around the North Atlantic, with the Isle of Mann at the centre. Three hundred years later the Normans, fresh from invading and subjugating England invaded the south-east, eventually moving north in the mid-twelfth century. Lots of invasions and terrible behaviour all round.
All round, a damned good historical fantasy that deals with imminent death and the end of a way of life, war and love. Much recommended.