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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Seer of Sevenwaters, by Juliet Marillier

Seer of Sevenwaters is the fifth book in the Sevenwaters series, by Juliet Marillier. (New York: Penguin, 2010) The books are historical romances, set in a fictional part of the real world, in perhaps the 16th century, mostly in the British Isles. Bookstores usually sell them as fantasy novels. Characters are Irish, Saxon, Norse, and from other parts of the old world. Seer of Sevenwaters includes a family tree. Sibeal, the main character in this book, is the granddaughter of Sorcha, the main character in the first book, Daughter of the Forest.

Marillier is a self-confessed druid. It is not surprising that many of the characters in her books are druid believers. As Marillier portrays that religion, it involved priests, who were celibate, and in tune with nature, and were also in tune with spirits of the land around them, and, perhaps, with supernatural beings, such as selkies.

I don't want to give away much of the plot of this book, which is well put together, and compelled my interest. I will say that Sibeal is in training as a druid priestess. She can see the future, at times, in visions, or by scrying -- looking in a special vessel or body of water. Such vision of the future can be deceptive. It might be something that is actually going to happen, or something that might happen, and it's not possible to tell. Sibeal falls in love with Felix, an outsider. He is not from her own ethnic group, and he does not practice her religion.

The characters are well drawn. They include a variety of people, with a variety of motives and interests. Many of them are part of Sibeal's family, but not all of them are.

In some of the other books of this series, Marillier included one or more Christian characters, who were presented as good people, and whose beliefs were also presented with respect, and without distortion. See here and here for my discussion of this aspect of Marillier's work.

This book has no Christian character, or at least no such character who is important, and who believes in Christ as God and savior. There are minor characters who make the sign of the cross when in danger. Felix, a major character, tells Sibeal:
"I was raised in the Christian faith, but my belief was shattered by the wrongs I saw enacted in the name of the Church. . . ." (395) During the conversation that this is part of, he indicates that he admires Sibeal's strong faith, and is drawn to it.

I was disappointed that Marillier had no strong Christian believer in this book, but deciding to have one was up to Marillier, not me, and the book is well-written, and well worth reading. Characters do have  moral choices. There are good characters, and characters who make lots of wrong decisions. One character is surprising in a way that I didn't expect.

Thanks for reading. Read Marillier.

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