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Seer of Sevenwaters    by Juliet Marillier order for
Seer of Sevenwaters
by Juliet Marillier
Order:  USA  Can
Roc, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though I enjoy all of Juliet Marillier's excellent Celtic fantasies, her Sevenwaters books(beginning with Daughter of the Forest) are closest to my heart. Seer of Sevenwaters, fifth in this stunning series, tells the story of seer Sibeal, who is in training to become a druid, something she has accepted as her destiny since she was a child. Fans will recall Sibeal's role in facilitating her sister Clodagh's Otherworld venture after their baby brother was replaced by a changeling in Heir to Sevenwaters.

As Seer of Sevenwaters opens, Clodagh and her mate Cathal (an Otherworld prince) are expecting their first child on her cousin Johnny's northern isle of Inis Eala, where they are warded from Cathal's cruel, devious father, Tuatha De Danann prince Mac Dara. Sibeal's sister Muirrin is also on the isle where she works as a healer alongside her husband Evan. Sibeal's uncle Ciaran, who is also her spiritual mentor, has sent her to spend the summer on Inis Eala before making her final commitment as a druid. Sibeal has a particular ability as a seer, but also reads the thoughts and feelings of others.

But the fates have other plans for Sibeal than a tranquil summer retreat. As the story opens, a sudden, freak storm wrecks a ship, Freyja, on the reef north of the island (is it Mac Dara at work?) At first there only seem to be two survivors, Norseman Knut and the mysterious, mute woman he claims as his wife (Svala). Then Sibeal is pulled out of her sleep to find and rescue a third, the amnesiac Felix. She is drawn to him and spends what time she can at his side as he very slowly heals from the severe illness induced by his long immersion in the freezing water. Knut seems very interested in what Felix remembers.

Sibeal uses runic divinations in attempts to understand what happened aboard Freyja, and also struggles to communicate with Svala, who seems to eat nothing but raw fish and to be intimidated by Knut. Eventually Felix seems to be remembering, but he keeps it to himself - why, and why does Knut threaten him? Tension builds until Felix finally recalls everything ... and becomes 'a man on a mission', one that takes a battle ready party from Inis Eala (including Sibeal, Cathal, Felix, Knut and Svala) on trading ship Liadan to an inhospitable 'island like a spear, a tall narrow rock standing alone in the wild ocean.'

Seer of Sevenwaters is a gripping yet highly romantic fantasy, one in which Sibeal learns that she wants more in her future than the silence of the nemetons - though still committed to the spiritual life, she also dreams of one 'full of tenderness and passion and surprises', and of a child. Is there a way to have both? Read the novel to find out. As always on finishing a Sevenwaters story, I hope for more - there are hints in this one of a continuing struggle with Mac Dara, so perhaps that will be between the pages for fans next.

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