I think if Robert Jordan had never written his Wheel of Time series, Juliet Marillier would have been my favorite fantasy author. I’ve read all of her books, now that I’ve finished Seer of Sevenwaters.
Seer of Sevenwaters is the fifth Sevenwaters novel and follows Sibeal, Sorcha’s (the main character from Daughter of the Forest) grandaughter, as she spends a summer with her sisters on the island of Inis Eala. Sibeal is on the verge of taking her vows and devoting her life to the strict, celibate, Druidic Order. However, before she does so at her young age, her mentor, Ciaran, insists that she spends time with her married sisters so that she is aware of what exactly she is giving up.
On her first day at Inis Eala, a ship founders off the islands shores and at first only two souls are rescued. Later that evening Sibeal, while finishing an errand, stumbles upon one more who washed to shore clinging to life. Unable to remember anything of his past Sibeal names him Ardal, and helps to nurse him back to health. However, while reading the runes, Sibeal sees that Ardal and herself will have to make a journey before the summer ends.
As I said, Marillier has never disappointed me. This novel was no exception but there were a few things I did like and some that I didn’t.
I loved the action of the novel. And the introduction of a second, present-tense first person perspective. Instead of the entire book being told from Sibeal’s viewpoint, we also get snippets from Ardal, who’s real name turns out to be Felix. I can’t recall any other instances where Marillier divides up the perspectives like that. I thought it was a great addition, I hope she adds this to more of her books.
Another aspect that I enjoyed is that Clodagh and Cathal, the main characters from Heir to Sevenwaters, were so prevalent in this novel. Marillier has a habit of writing novels about different members of the same family. So most of the time with her, you only get one book for each character and then the next one is about her daughter or sister. I was particularly attached to Clodagh and was glad that I got to spend some more time with her and Cathal.
The only thing that really disappointed me was how hastily Sibeal and Felix’s relationship was wrapped up. It was almost more of an afterthought. With all of her other novels, the relationship between the main male and female characters is an enormous driving force behind the plot line. However, with Seer of Sevenwaters, it seemed like the actions, Felix trying to remember his past, Sibeal and Felix’s sea voyage, Sibeal trying to decipher Svala, had the greater importance than the budding connection between Sibeal and Felix. This book had very little of the finality and closure that comes with all of her other novels and I will admit it was a little disappointing.
This installment of the Severwater novels was quickly climbing up the ladder as my favorite in that series until the end. I’m worried, that since Marillier has such a penchant for writing only one book about each character that I’ll never get the full closure about Felix and Sibeal that I would like.
Overall though, I greatly enjoyed this book. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, you can never go wrong with Juliet Marillier.