The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier – 4 out of 5 stars
Marillier is my kind of writer. I have now completed five books of hers and I love her style. She mixes history with fantasy in a way that makes everything come alive. It’s genius. The stories feel like fairy tales and yet they are darker than that – they have the low heartbeat of life throughout. They are poetry and yet easy to read. I’m sold on her style and someday I am sure I will devour all of her writing.
I was able to enjoy these books on audio and, can I just say, the narrator for this audio book has the voice. Like – melt the ladies right down to their Maryjanes kind of voice. Not that my own husband doesn’t have a nice voice and all, but if he spoke like Michael Page… *fans self*
Each book in this series works toward the same goal – the rise of a new king to the kingdom to bring all the lands together. It starts off at the core of it all; we see the future king grow up from the mere age of 8. In some ways that can make the first book a little slow and predictable. In others that predictability really clashes with the magic and wonder that arises and makes the whole scene really interesting. Book one is focused on Bridei and Tuala, while book two and three hone in on other characters, with Faolan playing a large part in all three (in many ways I feel like this series ought to be called The Faolan Chronicles.)
Book one may seem a bit slow as it establishes the new reign – but where book one lacks adventure, book two makes up for it. Most of the story in the second installment takes place in a faraway land where secrets and suspicions run wild. Unpredictable love abounds and magic plays an even deeper role.
The third book rounds out the other two perfectly. A lot more focus is placed back on the kingdom and there’s even more history involved, but that’s not to say the action is put at bay. People who were once perfect are no longer one-dimensional. There’s a lot that goes on and we have yet another excellent character thrown into our midst.This book relies heavily on character growth and it happens so well. What Faolan went through in book two was crucial to put him in the right spot for book three.
I love the likely and yet unlikely romance that occurs in all three books. Marillier does a wonderful job of making it the focus but not the whole story. I find it hard to believe that the series is over. In many ways I don’t want it to be (there’s so much promise of what Bridei and Tuala’s children will become – and even what Saraid will mean in it all). Maybe that is another series that has been created or yet to come. Regardless, I was sad to put these characters away. For me, this was one of the best ends to a series I’ve ever encountered. A little Disney-esque maybe, but it worked really well and tied off a lot of loose ends.
All in all, a great read.