Archive for Juliet Marillier

The types I go for

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Movies, Superhero with tags , , on May 21, 2012 by Cara Marie

So I was thinking about the unlikely circumstance that movie!Loki got redeemed. ‘Well, he’d have to feel awful,’ I thought. ‘I can’t see it happening.’

And then I had a flashback to Ken weeping over Wormon in Digimon (back in the day) and suddenly it all became clear. Of course Loki is my favourite, because I have always had a massive thing for villains with a giant inferiority complex. (Ignoring that, well, Loki is my favourite in the myths too, because it’s not like they have a whole lot to do with one another.)

Usually it’s a clash of geniuses – Ken was smart but his brother was always smarter, Mello was but Near was always more so, Peter was, but Ender was the one they picked, wasn’t he?

Whereas Loki is smart and his brother is not so much – but still, it’s what Thor’s got that the family values, and Loki’s skills mean little next to that. In his mind, if not necessarily in fact. We know he tells his story the way he wants it.

Here’s another example, and it’s even got Vikings in it: Juliet Marillier’s Wolfskin. Two boys, blood-brothers (one’s a fosterling, and we can start with the inferiority there): Somerled, who is small and dark and bookish; and Eyvind, who is everything a warrior should be, one of Thor’s men, and a truly good person to boot. Whereas Somerled is full of frustrated ambition, and not so full of compunctions.

God, I loved that book. I should really reread it, but then, I have to be prepared to weep bitterly. I cry easily with my fiction, but that book is something else. It is worse than the saddest episode of Cold Case.

And at the end of the book, Somerled is exiled, set out in a small craft into the vastness of the ocean.

The parallels are kind of amazing.

And Somerled does get redeemed in the sequel, when we see him as an old man and he’s converted to Christianity.

(I did not like the sequel so much.)

Somehow I don’t see that as an option for Loki.

And when he was cast down (when he chose to fall) … well, I don’t think his experiences since have improved him any.

Recent kids’ fantasy

Posted in Books with tags , , on November 12, 2007 by Cara Marie

Three fantasy novels: one by an old favourite I’d become indifferent to; one I’d been really excited by, and thus was let down; and one which had the right ingredients – for an end result I can only pick at.

Cybele’s Secret – Juliet Marillier

My lost love for Juliet Marillier

Posted in Books, Fantasy with tags on June 7, 2006 by Cara Marie

Juliet Marillier’s first book got a lot of attention here when it first came out – probably because, though she lives in Australia, she was born in New Zealand, grew up in Dunedin – that makes her ‘ours’, enough that Daughter of the Forest was reviewed widely, and well. I was interested straight away, simply because it’s based on my favourite fairy tale – The Six Swans – or the Wild Swans, depending on where you read it, whether it is the Grimm’s version or Hans Christian Anderson’s. Juliet Marillier took it and retold in in 9th century Ireland, before Christianity had won out over the old religions, back when there was still magic to be done.

The Six Swans is not Celtic in origin, though there are similar tales to be found there, but it fits the setting well, with its suggestions of the otherworld, of old magic. Juliet Marillier’s rendition enchanted me, and I went on to buy the book’s sequels, though they had little to do with the fairy tale that had led me to them.

There were three books in that series, The Sevenwaters Trilogy, and I loved them, though I never reread them. They were entrancing, romantic and painful, and often I would be reduced to tears. However, never so much as in her fourth book, Wolfskin.

There was a change of locale here – although the era was similar – from the Celtic to the Norse, and the Orkney islans. More than any of her other books, Wolfskin broke my heart. It was the character of Somerled, that strange, ambitious boy who grew up to be a monster – although Juliet Marillier did not withhold the possibility of redemption. So I read the sequel, Foxmask, for his sake, and in that way it paid off. However, Foxmask had other things to trouble me. I had enjoyed the romances before, but in Foxmask things did not end satisfactorily. Foxmask tells the story of Somerled’s son Thorvald, who had only just learned of his true father, and Thorvald’s loyal shadow Creidhe, whose devotion to him is underappreciated. By the time Thorvald realises his love for her, she has moved on, fallen madly for the solitary and not entirely human Keeper, in a fit of what I suppose is true love. But for all the writer’s conviction, I had trouble believing in it. I felt more for Thorvald than Creidhe; I cared more for his losing her than Creidhe’s discovery of love. It was unjust, I felt, but in Foxmask that feeling was more relating to Thorvald’s pain – it wasn’t until a later book that I got angry at the author.

Juliet Marillier’s current series is the Bridei Chronicles, another trilogy, whose second book came out last year. The first book, The Dark Mirror, I liked well enough, although I can’t say it enchanted me the way her earlier novels did. This series is in some ways less personal: it is on a larger scale, concerned with war, with alliances and the unification of a nation. For that reason perhaps it engaged me less. The second book, Blade of Fortriu concerned one of the alliances, with a young woman, Ana, sent to marry an unknown chieftain. Instead she falls in love with his brother, a man kept in secrecy, confined and carrying the blame for his brother’s evil deeds. He also is not entirely human. Ana falls for him so quickly that I can’t help but feel she’s merely infatuated, rather than in love – I just can’t fathom this love at first sight Juliet Marillier writes, these women falling for these fey men. Particularly, I suppose, when I relate more to the man accompanying the woman on her journey to discover these dark secrets. Faolan and Ana hate each other at first – and to think I was worried before I read the book things were going to turn out like Son of the Shadows, and they were going to get together. I didn’t think I’d be desperately wishing they had at the end of it. The love between them is something that grows up naturally – not that Faolan can say anything, being it can go nowhere, what with Ana’s imminant marriage. And after she meets her fey bird-man, it’s not something she’d even consider.

God, I hated him, Drustan. He and Ana were so lovey dovey – but you never really got to know him, only that he’s been so tormented, and so cruelly treated, and oh, Ana loves him so bad.

The sense of injustice grows, but it’s for Faolan and not Drustan. I felt that he deserved Ana’s love far more than the stupid bird-man. Just because Faolan’s fully human. Drustan may have been hurt badly, but hey, at least it had sent him slightly crazy – Faolan’s pain was, I felt, deeper. Of course, Ana is completely ignorant of how he feels – she’s just happy at how they’ve come to be such good friends – until his jealousy becomes so obvious that she has to pay attention.

Thing is, I was actually hoping Drustan would die. Ana might feel now like she couldn’t live without him, but she’d get over it soon enough. I should be feeling for Faolan, sure, but it shouldn’t be to the extent I wish his rival would get killed off. It’s like Juliet Marillier’s miscalculated somewhere, and I don’t relate to Ana enough that I care for her lover.

It wasn’t like Ana couldn’t have loved Faolan – but her love for Drustan was in the way. There’s this one line that bugs me, when Faolan and Ana comfort each other: “And whether he embraced her like a friend, or a brother, or like a lover who understands this is the one and only time he will ever hold his heart’s delight so close, was a thing she never told anyone, not for the rest of her life.” Not even we are told, which seems a cope out, although I suppose reveals which it really is. It’s not like Faolan’s feelings aren’t dealt with – it’s just that I never loved Drustan, not the way all the characters seemed to, and I can’t understand how Ana chose him.

In the Sevenwaters trilogy I liked the female characters better – in these later books they’re somehow weaker – not in what they have to deal with, but softened by this true love thing – to the extent that I can’t love them, not the way I should be – it’s the male characters I actually care about, so that I wonder if the only reason I gave a damn about Ana was because Faolan loved her. That’s not how I should have felt.

I’ll pick up the third Bridei book, of course, but if it doesn’t pick up, then it may be I lose my infatuation with Juliet Marillier. And it would be a pity if her handling of the romances were to put me off her completely – because I loved those books. But it’s like after Wolfskin she lost what it was I loved so deeply, but I keep reading, in the hope that she catches sight of it once again, that I can leave the book actually feeling satisfied. Because I really do wish I did.