The trees whisper of Danger...
The youngest in a long line of witches, Ari senses that things are changing - changing for the worse. For generations, her kin have tended the Old Places, keeping the land safe and fertile. But with the Summer Moon, the mood of her neighbours has soured. And Ari is no longer safe.
The Fae have long ignored what occurs in the mortal world, passing through on their shadowy roads only long enough to amuse themselves. But the roads are slowly disappearing, leaving the Fae Clans isolated and alone.
Where harmony between the spiritual and the natural has always reigned, a dissonant chord now rings in the ears of both Fae and mortal. When murmurs of a witch-hunt hum through the town, some begin to wonder if the different omens are notes in the same tune.
And all they have to guide them is a passing reference to something called The Pillars of the World...
After reading the Black Jewel trilogy by Anne Bishop and absolutely loving it, I was always going to read more from this author, but I will admit to a degree of apprehension. What happens if a new series isn't as compelling or interesting as the very hard to top BJ trilogy. Luckily, for me at least, it wasn't really an issue! I know that there are others around who were disappointed in this new trilogy, but I really did enjoy this first book in the series.
Whilst there are some shared ideas in this series and the BJ trilogy (for example the idea of linked worlds), I found the world building in this book much less intrusive in this novel than in the first BJ book. At the end of Daughter of the Blood, I had to confess that I was still trying to figure the worlds out, but there was no such trouble with this book!
Ari is our main female character, and she is a witch who lives in one of the Old Places, protecting the earth and renewing it to enhance the world around it. In the process, the witches like Ari also protects the roads to Tir Alainn, the world where the Fae live. As an evil Inquisitor successfully kills off more and more of the witches, the roads to Tir Alainn are disappearing, and the Fae don't know why.
Ari is tricked into accepting a love spell that says that she must offer a treat to the man of her choice and then give herself too him for a prescribed period. When Ari meets one of the Fae leaders, Lucien the Lightbearer) she becomes his lover, much to the consternation of both Neall and his cousin. Neall is upset because he has secretly loved Ari for a long time, and hopes to marry her and take her back to the land that he has kept secret from his family ever since they took him in as an orphan. His cousin is was just determined to own Ari and is determined to gain his revenge against her for not accepting his attention!
So for the first part of the book, the relationship between Ari and Lucien is the focus, and mainly concentrates on the different expectations that they each have, both because they are male and female, but also because she is a witch and he Fae. Lucien's fellow Fae are also interested in Ari, because normally they try to stay away from witches, but as they come to know her, they also find some clues that suggest the only way to save their world is to find The Pillars of the World. Perhaps Ari can help?
All of a sudden though, the relationship focus changes from being Ari and Lucien to being Ari and Neall, who it turns out may not be all that he seems, but the enemies that Ari has made amongst the town people are turning against her, and it won't be long before the Inquisitor's find her, and destroy her.
The most interesting characters in the book were definitely the Fae and the little people who also make appearances throughout the story, generally helping Ari and keeping an eye on her. Ari was in some ways kind of bland. There was lots of focus on the Wiccan teaching and at times that felt a bit laborious until it actually became time for Ari to show her true power. Neall was also a bit bland but at least that makes them a good match...right?
This was an enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading more in this series, especially if the Fae are going to be the central characters.