September 14, 2012 by Heidi
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!
Title: Son of the Shadows [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Juliet Marillier [Website|Facebook]
Standing: 2nd in the Sevenwaters series
Published: May 18th, 2001 by Tor Fantasy
Format: Paperback; 590 pages
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!: You can technically read Son of the Shadows as a stand alone without having read Daughter of the Forest, but seriously, why would you?! As such, there are only very minor spoilers for the first book in the series here.
Beautiful Sorcha is the courageous young woman who risked all to save her family from a wicked curse and whose love shattered generations of hate and bridged two cultures.
It is from her sacrifice that Sorcha’s brothers were brought home to their ancestral fortress Sevenwaters, and her life has known much joy.
But not all the brothers were able to fully escape the spell that transformed them into swans, and it is left to Sorcha’s daughter Liadan to help fulfill the destiny of the Sevenwaters clan. Beloved child and dutiful daughter, Liadan embarks on a journey that 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 dark forces and ancient powers conspiring to destroy this family’s peace–and their world. And she will need all of her 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.
In case I haven’t mentioned Seven Days for Sevenwaters quite enough in the past week, here’s one more tip of the hat to the lovely event that Holly has put together. If you love Juliet Marillier, Sevenwaters, or just want to know what all of the fuss is about, stop on by to read posts from me, Angie, Chachic, and Michelle (with more to come!).
Son of the Shadows is the second book in Juliet Marillier’s captivating Sevenwaters series. If you had told me several months ago that any book would measure up to the immediate love I felt for Daughter of the Forest I wouldn’t have believed it. Son of the Shadows was probably a great book, sure, but just as good? Really? I wouldn’t believe it. Until I read it and I had no choice but to face facts: Son of the Shadows is every bit the masterpiece that Daughter of the Forest was. Rather than attempting to capture the same air and emotions, Son of the Shadows managed to grab my heart in ways that Daughter of the Forest had not. Where there had been delayed gratification, now there was a consistent struggle of mind and body, where there had been trust and a definite purpose, now there was uncertainty and defiance. And yet, both books contained a steadfast hope that warms my heart to think on, and a breathtaking romance that I will forever adore.
Liadan, the daughter of Sorcha and Red, combines her parents’ best qualities to create a stalwart heroine that is not to be trifled with. She has her father’s strength and patience coupled with her mother’s (and uncle Finbar’s) talent for healing the mind and body. She is exactly the combination the Fair Folk have been hoping for, only her choices prove her characteristics have manifested in ways most unpleasing to what those who shepherd prophecy would prefer. There are times when she despairs that she is only another powerless woman in a world full of unthinking men, and yet she refuses to give in. I love Liadan for her unapologetic strength and desire to earn what she wants from life–not take what life others would give to her.
Son of the Shadows reveals an old shadow over Sevenwaters, one we only now begin to see was there long before the Lady Oonagh worked her evil magic in Daughter of the Forest. Here we are able to see how this family was not ripped apart one generation prior, it has been slowly fraying for generations past. The family of Sevenwaters love one another deeply, but despite their love they struggle for trust in one another. Trying to shield those you love can hurt them as much as it could help, and simple actions have dire consequences beyond your imagining. While the idea of a truth that cannot be spoken was quite literal in Daughter of the Forest, the theme is retained with a much more sinister air in Son of the Shadows. It is one thing to be unable to speak, and another entirely to choose not to. Son of the Shadows is as good example as any that life isn’t as simple as it is in the tales.
I can hardly discuss my love for Son of the Shadows without discussing the romance. If you like your mystery, feel free to skip ahead, but I feel this is the driving force behind the entire book, and thus cannot go unmentioned. Friends, I loved Bran. The Painted Man who is both terror and hope, who has suffered to the point that he no longer recognizes suffering, he only sees it as his place in the world. Liadan’s love for him comes about unexpectedly, for he is a hard man to love. A man with no past, no future, and a present only in the harsh moments he chooses as his due.
“You don’t have to do this alone you know.”
Brighid help me. I was suddenly overtaken by the most profound sadness. Arrogance, scorn, indifference I could deal with. Quiet competence was just fine. Arguing with him was almost enjoyable. It was the unexpected words of kindness that threatened to shatter me in pieces.
Liadan is for Bran the balance that no other person could provide. When most of us would be shaking him and calling him an idiot for not seeing what is right before his eyes, Liadan is patient and careful as one is with an injured animal, which is sort of what Bran is. Also, I have to mention, I love that in both Daughter of the Forest and Son of the Shadows there is a seemingly nameless character that is given a name by the one destined to love them.
Once again I was drawn to love the family of Sevenwaters, Liadan and her siblings, but the highlight of this book for me was Bran’s tribe of Painted Men. The outcasts of every land with no past and no stories of their own who look only to take care of one another and guard those they may call friend if only they are given the chance. As it is clear that the children of Sevenwaters know only one way to love–deeply, it is clear in both the light and shadows of this story that they are not the only ones.
Son of the Shadows is, without a doubt, one of my favorite books I have ever read. There are pages I have already read enough times to have lost track, and I know I must obtain a copy of my own as soon as possible so as not to incur massive library fines. If you’ve been wondering if you can go on after taking in the beauty of Daughter of the Forest, take this as my assurance that you can–it will be worth it.
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: This isn’t even a legit question with this series, of course I will…hopefully with less of a gap than I had between the last two! I feel like the overarching storyline of a trilogy was hinted at in the first book, but not yet definite (likely Marillier was uncertain is she’d have the opportunity to continue the series as is fair for debut authors *chortles at the notion that this series would not continue*), but this book leads me to want to finish up the prophecy very much!
Recommended for: Everyone. In particular fans of strong women in fantasy, atmospheric prose, absolutely meant to be romance, Stockholm Syndrome, and thumbing your nose at prophecies.
Get a second opinion:
The Book Rat
Chachic’s Book Nook
See Michelle Read
Steph Su Reads