Tag Archives: juliet marillier

Dreamer’s Pool

Today is the perfect day to write a review on this book. Cold, rainy and grim suits the tone of the book exactly.

“Dreamer’s Pool” is another Juliet Marillier novel (I have a problem, I know) set in the British Isles. It is the first in the Blackthorn and Grim series, and the only one released so far. While there are some similarities between this one and the others that I have read, it is at its essence quite a different story. There are a number of point of view characters, and is a curious blend between fantasy, historical fiction and mystery.


Unlikely duo Blackthorn the healer and strongman Grim set up home in a new village after they manage to escape from prison. Readily accepted into the community due to their hard work ethic and skills, they are asked by the prince to get much more involved than they would care to in order to find out the truth behind his newly arrived betrothed’s strange behaviour.

Marillier is and remains a favourite of mine because she fills a largely unoccupied niche in the fantasy genre with her convincing and independent female lead characters. “Dreamer’s Pool” is no exception and has the additional layer of a kind of medieval detective story. However, Marilleir’s use of suspense in the novel at time borders on the infuriating. While perhaps not my favourite of her books, I did enjoy the fact that her characters in this novel were more like “common folk”. I also liked the unconventional relationships she has begun to explore, particularly between Blackthorn and Grim themselves.

I’ll definitely pounce on the next one when it comes out. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to exercise some self-restraint and try not to read the others that I still have all at once.


Filed under Book Reviews, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

The Bridei Chronicles

So after two weeks of solid blogging, I’m finally up to the books I’ve read since coming back from my Christmas trip in the UK. I’m hoping to catch up soon with what I’m reading currently, and then I’ll post as often as I finish books.

The first book I read, “The Dark Mirror” by Juliet Marillier, was a Christmas present from my friend Annie and is the first book in the historical fantasy series “The Bridei Chronicles”.

This was, first and foremost, a very thoughtful gift. I have been a fan of Juliet Marillier since I read her two novels “Wolfskin” and “Foxmask” as a teenager. In the past year, I have become immersed in the “Sevenwaters” series, and have been relishing the fact that I still have the final installment left to read.

Marillier is my guilty pleasure, and her historical fantasy romances draw me in and make the world around me melt away. There’s just something about them that tugs at my Celtic roots and it has been a while since I have read books that have made me feel so hungry for more. I’ve actually been meting them out between other novels because the temptation to race through them is so great and I want to savour each story.

“The Bridei Chronicles” are no different. Based on the historical figure, Bridei – King of the Picts (a tribal confederation of peoples in northern and eastern Scotland, according to wiki), and taking place in the 6th Century, “The Dark Mirror” is Marillier’s fictionalisation of his childhood and his rise to becoming king.


Bridei is sent away as little more than a toddler to live with the king’s druid, Broichan, at a rather mystical place called Pitnochie to commence his education. A quiet, conscientious boy, Bridei strives hard at his lessons and keeps his feelings of loneliness and abandonment to himself. When the goddess known as the Shining One wakes him up one winter’s night for him to find a gift on the doorstep left by the Good Folk (faerie people), Bridei’s lonely life changes forever and his guardian’s plans for him are put to the test.

Combining historical fact with speculation and traditional folklore, this is a story laced with wonder, pain and love. Although perhaps not my favourite of her novels, I think so far this is Marillier’s most historically accurate, and it is rich with its detail, druidic knowledge and intense relationships.

There are two other books published in the series so far, and I have already read the second, “The Blade of Fortriu”. A rather different story which deals with Bridei’s military campaigns and with intrigue and politics with other tribes, I think I actually enjoyed the second book more than the first. Perhaps because the cast has grown and so therefore has the complexity of the relationships and the number of viewpoints being shown.

I think that if you are interested in historical fantasy, romance, strong female characters who are realistic given the setting, politics and all things fae then you would likely enjoy this series.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fantasy, Historical Fiction