Bridei is a young nobleman fostered at the home of Broichan, one of the most powerful druids in the land. His earliest memories are not of hearth and kin but of this dark stranger who while not unkind is mysterious in his ways. The tasks that he sets Bridei appear to have one goal-to make him a vessel for some distant purpose. What that purpose is Bridei cannot fathom but he trusts the man and is content to learn all he can about the ways of the world.
But something happens that will change Bridei’s world forever…and possibly wreck all of Broichan’s plans. For Bridei finds a child on their doorstep on a bitter MidWinter Eve, a child seemingly abandoned by the fairie folk. It is uncommonly bad luck to have truck with the Fair Folk and all counsel the babe’s death. But Bridei sees an old and precious magic at work here and heedless of the danger fights to save the child. Broichan relents but is wary.
The two grow up together and as Bridei comes to manhood he sees the shy girl Tuala blossom into a beautiful woman. Broichan sees the same process and feels only danger…for Tuala could be a key part in Bridei’s future…or could spell his doom.
Title : The Dark Mirror
Author : Juliet Marillier
Series : The Bridei Chronicles (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 561
Genre : historical fiction / fantasy
Publisher : Tor
Release Date : September 1, 2004
Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Hollis’ 3.5 star review
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it always bears repeating and it’s generally relevant : even though this couldn’t be more different from the Sevenwaters Saga, there is something intrinsically Marillier about this story. And this one even more than the last venture my buddy and I went on which took us to Transylvania.
This time, we are spending time with the Picts. There’s enough overlap in this world, both historically factual and of course a little imagined, to Sevenwaters in the sense that we have druids, a strong respect for the forest and nature, and the powers around them, but whereas the aforementioned series was strongly familial-focused and very magical, this one is more political and, though the Good Folk play a role, it’s more subtle. The main conflicts are very human in nature.
And in that same vein, but maybe in less of a positive way, the main characters are also less of the standouts we’ve seen before. Bridei unfortunately feels a little white bread and watered down. Tuala just doesn’t feel quite age-appropriate (but with how she was raised I guess it sorta makes sense) and, with a few exceptions, really seems to just be a plot device. And for all that they believe, and so do certain players around them, that they have this intense connection.. it, too, felt a bit weak sauced. More telling than showing.
But. I enjoyed how this book set things up for the series; we had some strong supporting characters that I’m looking forward to seeing more of; a good human villain or two; there was the characteristic strength of Marillier’s female narratives which are always different and interesting (and this one was no exception); and, well, it was run to read along with this one and not remember the bits to come; even if, upon reading them, I remembered them. Oh, did I not say? This was a reread as I was (in theory) along for the ride with Micky. I have to assume I did read the full trilogy, as GR says so, but I recall nada. So this is almost like reading them for the first time — bonus!
Not sure when I’ll be picking up book two but I hope it’s sooner rather than later.