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Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Flame of Sevenwaters (2012)

by Juliet Marillier

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Title:Flame of Sevenwaters
Authors:Juliet Marillier
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Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier (2012)



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When you pick a book up at the library, one of you know nothing of, you might not expect the story to still be inside your head ten years later. You might not expect the characters to feel as immediate as they did on that first reading. More so, they are familiar now, known as friends. Daughter of the Forest, the first in Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series, is that book. A retelling of the Six Swans fairytale, it follows Sorcha as she attempts to reclaim the human lives of her brothers. It is a story of hope, and of love — romantic, familial, the loyalty of a good dog, and the kindness and strength of new friends. There are moments within it, and within the following books, that feel instilled in the memory, as if they exist beyond the page: Sorcha calling Red’s name, Niamh dancing, Bran watching his son and saying, ‘Is he supposed to be eating that?’, the fall of Darragh and his return. The recurring image of three small children, deep within the forests of Sevenwaters, both past and future. Think of these, of characters such as Finbar and Conor, Padriac and horse-mad Ellis, and any pretence of objectivity and rationality shatter. Just a book? Not likely.

For all its magic and fey creatures, Sevenwaters is grounded in reality. Although some characters get their happy endings, there are others whose lives have to change and survive without them. In Flame of Sevenwaters, it would seem like Maeve is destined to be one of these. After suffering terrible burns of the hands and face at age ten, Maeve left Sevenwaters to live with her Aunt Liadan, a healer, and her husband Bran in England. From her foster parents, Maeve has learnt to be strong, ignoring, outwardly at least, the comments and stares. Her gift with animals is called upon when Swift, an unpredictable horse, is to be sent to Sevenwaters as a token of restitution. Her return home, ten years later, is a reluctant one. She can barely remember Sevenwaters, and feels closer to Liadan, Bran, and her maid Rhian, than she does her own parents or sisters. Yet her resolve to stay detached, to return to her foster home, is soon weakened. Maeve is determined to bring Finbar, her young brother, out of his serious shell. Finbar, like his namesake, is a seer and although he will not speak of them, has seen visions that could signal the end of Sevenwaters. Maeve and Finbar, along with Bear and Badger, the two traumatised dogs that Maeve has befriended, must do what seems most unlikely. For it is that the woman deemed too infirm, the brother too young, and the dogs too wild, must challenge and help defeat Mac Dara, Prince of the Otherworld, and long-time enemy of the Sevenwaters family.

Of the original trilogy, Child of the Prophecy will always be my favourite. Unlike Sorcha and Liadan, Fainne is a character who has to overcome the darkness within herself. Her initial position as an anti-hero means that her actions, and their consequences, are often painful to witness. Yet she is evidence of Marillier’s risk tasking. Fainne is a character who challenges the readers, and the narrative, subverting the traditional expectations of a heroine. Considering that Maeve was burned in CotP, it is fitting that Marillier establishes links between it and Flame of Sevenwaters. Both Fainne and Maeve arrive at Sevenwaters as outsiders, longing for the solitude and order of their previous lives. Each have complicated feelings towards their family, and each ultimately risk their lives to save them. As with Fainne, Marillier creates a multi-faceted character in Maeve. Her disability is never marginalised or trivialised in favour of a smooth plot, nor does it constitute the entirety of her self. Maeve is clever, brave, and caring. She is also proud, closed-off, and difficult. One of the most interesting parts of the novel is Maeve’s awkward relationship with her mother. Whilst Maeve comes to recognise her mother’s particular strengths, there is no firm resolution between them. Like the best of Marillier’s relationships — the pseudo father-son bond between Conor and Ciarán or the fraught brotherhood of Red and Simon — there remains tension, emotional betrayals and years lost. Another relationship that works wonderfully well, and is arguably the most important of the novel, is that of Maeve and Finbar. Where Clodagh rescues the infant Finbar in Heir to Sevenwaters, in Flame Maeve and Finbar rescue each other. As a character, Finbar is simply delightful. Marked by his time in the Otherworld and his visions, he is at once an old soul and a seven-year old boy. As a sister to a much-younger brother, I felt a particular resonance with Maeve’s interactions with and love for Finbar. The focus that Marillier places on Maeve and the two dogs, Badger and Bear, is also an interesting change to the template of the other novels. Whilst some readers may be disappointed by the relative lack of romance (there is one, it is just unconventional…), it is in-keeping with the tone of the story.

The conclusion to Ciarán’s story is by far my favourite part of the novel. I will not spoil anything, except to say that the final pages are amongst the finest Marillier has written. The symmetry between the ending of Child of the Prophecy, and between the choices made by Fainne and Ciarán, are simply beautiful. My only real criticism is that I wanted more of Maeve at Harrowfield, more of Maeve and her parents, and more of Maeve and a certain somebody. More of Sevenwaters, really. There were moments in the novel that were genuinely unsettling, and I found myself putting the book down, waiting just a minute, and then reading on. I wanted to savor the writing, and these characters. Even if Juliet Marillier never writes another Sevenwaters novel, she has given her readers a remarkable gift. A series like Sevenwaters — one that takes risks, one that is dark and true and hopeful, and one that can make its readers stronger and happier in a hundred tiny ways — is rare indeed. I am so glad that I picked up Daughter of the Forest ten years ago, and I urge other people to do the same. ( )
1 vote ManthaLockett | Jun 1, 2014 |
More of a straight forward quest fantasy and less of a romantic fantasy than the rest of Marillier's work (the heroine does find love at the end, but the romance doesn't appear until the book is almost over). I don't know if this is the last of the Sevenwaters books, but it would serve as a good conclusion, tying all six books together through Ciaran. ( )
1 vote Unreachableshelf | Nov 18, 2013 |
We are back at Sevenwaters, Finbar is now a boy of 7 or 8 and seems to have a few lasting effects of his time in the otherworld with Mac Dara , also Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean who was badly burned as a child in Fianne’s story comes back to Sevenwaters after 10 years spent in the house of Liadan & Bran. It is tough on her because she has very limited use of her hands and her face is scarred and at Harrowfield she wasn’t an oddity because she has always been there but back at Sevenwaters people stare and talk behind her back. Plus she is having a hard time reconnecting with her mother who just wants to pretend the last 10 years didn’t exist or to see the strong woman her daughter has become. Maeve has a way with animals, it is her gift.

Maeve & Finbar are both feeling a bit constrained in the house Finbar is under constant guard and doesn’t seem to be able to do anything a normal child of his age can do and Maeve used to having freedom to be outside in stables or just outside period is having a very hard time sitting in the ladies sewing room with her mother and the other women of the house since she can’t sew since her hands are burnt up.

I enjoyed the budding friendship between Finbar & Maeve neither has ever had their siblings around very much so it was neat to see them become so close.

There is a bit of formula to this one but since Marillier is such a great writer I chose to overlook that. There is finally a ending to the Mac Dara story but not in the way you may have thought it would end but I wish there would have been more of Cathal & Clodagh and even though we have been working up to this conclusion for a few books I still felt it was a little rushed and wished we had seen Ciaran’s entire journey and Cathal’s journey back. There is a death at the beginning of this book that is sad for fans of Daughter of the Forest but it makes a true ending of that story.

As always Rosalyn Landor’s narration was well done, I like that she made Maeve sound a bit different than everyone else at Sevenwaters after all she has been living in Britain at Harrowfield so she would have a different accent .

Even though this isn’t my favorite Sevenwaters book it was still worth 4 stars.

4 Stars ( )
  susiesharp | Oct 9, 2013 |
I adore Juliet Marillier's writing style and the way she develops her characters, brings them to life and then completely immerses you into their world. I loved Maeve as a character - her family insecurities, her acceptance of a situation she had no control over, her desire to be the best and the strongest that she could be, despite her handicaps. What I did not love was the whole geiss business. It reeked of prophecy to me, except in this case it didn't even seem that she was going to be playing an active role in bringing down the evil faerie overlord. Merely watching. That was what dropped this from five stars to four - the contrived, forced nature of the plot. Otherwise, as beautiful as her earlier tales and I really enjoyed Maeve's relationship with the animals. ( )
  LemurKat | Sep 12, 2013 |
A decent enough conclusion to the series (though you'd think a series that makes such a fuss of sevens would have that number of books). The plot of this one was uncomfortably similar to that of HEIR TO SEVENWATERS, except with a slower pace, a more resistant heroine, and a fraction of the dialogue (unsurprising since most of the characters were animals). The climax echoed those of several Disney movies -- unfortunately, this had more of an *unoriginal* effect than a nostalgic one. Didn't particularly care for the main romance in the book, and several of the side-characters' subplots wrapped up rather too easily. There were ABSOLUTELY no surprises to the story. Grump, grump, grump.

Basically: I don't recommend this book. If you've read the first five, then it's worth a skim for the closure -- but then, if you've read the first five then this negative review should hardly be a surprise, since there's been a steady decline with each book in the series. The first was genius; by the sixth, everything feels formulaic and trite.

Oh, and the one sister whose story I particularly wanted to read DIDN'T GET A BOOK. Or a subplot. Or even a damn CAMEO. Disappointment, Juliette Marillier. Great disappointment. ( )
  NeitherNora | Sep 7, 2013 |
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For my sister, Jennifer,
who opens hearth and heart to dogs in trouble
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My aunt taught me to hold my head high, even when people stared.
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Maeve returns to Sevenwaters to find the country in turmoil after Prince Mac Dara's desperate attempts to return his only son to the Otherworld put innocents in peril.

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