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Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Daughter of the Forest

by Juliet Marillier

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,813902,070 ()174
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» See also 174 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
In the second half of 2014, I read Juliet Marillier for the first time. The book was Dreamer’s Pool and as soon as I closed the cover on the last page, I asked myself the question most readers ask themselves right after they finish an amazing read: Why have I waited so long to read this author? And inevitably, the next thought is: I must read more!

I know I say that a lot and I don’t always follow through, at least not right away. But something about Marillier’s writing struck me in a way that I knew I didn’t want to wait. So I decided to jump into her Sevenwaters trilogy, and not least because the first book Daughter of the Forest has been sitting in my to-read list for years – for shame! – and it’s time to remedy that.

The book introduces us to Sorcha, who should have been the seventh son of a seventh son, but she is loved no less for being a girl, the only daughter of Lord Colum in the kingdom of Sevenwaters. She grew up with her six doting older brothers, and the siblings could not have been closer despite their different personalities and walks of life. However, peace at Sevenwaters is shattered when their widower father is seduced into marriage by an evil enchantress. To stop the siblings from meddling, the witch curses them all, turning Sorcha’s brothers into swans. It’s up to Sorcha to lift the spell, but she has to undertake a long and difficult quest thrust upon her by the Fae to do so, all the while remaining silent until she completes it.

To those familiar with their fairy tales, this is of course a retelling of The Six Swans, one of the stories collected by the Brothers Grimm. It’s a pretty close adaptation, actually, though Marillier fleshes it out a lot more and sets her version in the medieval Celtic era. She does not stray too far from the source material, which ended up being perfect for someone like myself, who adores fairy tales but at times wishes someone to come along and give them the deeper, more detailed treatment. I was delighted to find the same sort of subtle vibe here that I experienced in Dreamer’s Pool, a heady mixture of magic and realism in a world where myths can come to life and yet remain grounded at the same time.

This is simply a gorgeous book, filled with pain and sadness but also hope, healing and love. There is a heavy element of romance in here, but it is so well embedded in the overall story that it hardly distracts, despite being so intensely passionate. It’s been a while since I found myself so moved by a relationship between two people. Daughter of the Forest, a fantasy novel at its heart, does a love story even better than some Romance novels out there, without even seeming to try.

There aren’t too many faults I can pick out here, other than some minor issues I had with the overprotectiveness of Sorcha’s brothers, especially towards the end. I think by then she has earned the right to speak for herself and tell her family what it is she wants, but she too remained meek and silent until things ended up resolving for her. But a gripe like this feels so minor when the rest of the novel was near-perfect, as well as in light of how much I loved the book overall.

Two books by Juliet Marillier under my belt, and now she is one of my favorite authors. This is a must read for her fans, new and old. I really can’t recommend this one highly enough, especially if you love fairy tales, mythology and legends. ( )
1 vote stefferoo | Jan 17, 2015 |
The sheer amount of research done on the Britons and the Irish really shows. The speech is formal and suitable for the time period but then, the writing was just as elegant. I expected nothing less from it and I'm sort of happy that it sets itself apart from the colloquial books nowadays.Character development was crucial in this book and I also saw the cruel irony and hidden lessons throughout the book. I cannot say I enjoyed all of the faery tricks and low, tragic points in the plot but I commend the author for creating a bittersweet ending that was not too sorrowful to handle.

Although her other books ([b:Wildwood Dancing|13929|Wildwood Dancing (Wildwood, #1)|Juliet Marillier|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1393127105s/13929.jpg|2024857],[b:Cybele's Secret|963508|Cybele's Secret (Wildwood, #2)|Juliet Marillier|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1335030790s/963508.jpg|948409]) included the meddlings of derisive faery folk, DotF contained more tragedies, gratuitous regrets, and overall restless fates. Everyone's lives are left scarred and as Sorcha sensibly states, it was not that simple to pick back up their lives and resume their everyday tasks.
Because of the Celtic culture and the old traditions, men are pig-headed and still dominate their women. That means that Sorcha, being surrounded by six brothers, have a hard time asserting her authority as she grows up. However, the brothers' love for their sister has been tried and true and shown clearly multiple times throughout the novel. I think that in a way redeems them for being overly protective and prevaricating the happy ending that she sorely deserved.

I can't even begin to explain how much emotional toll this book took on me. It was just so heavy in family, sacrifice, and the gravity of the quest Sorcha undertook plagued on my mind. I felt like I was bearing half her burden because by then, I had invested in her character and was rooting her on. It was so crazy trying to be patient and at the same time, find out what happens next. The pacing of the book was great and I never felt like the book was too long. By the end of it, I kept wanting more and desperately wishing for everyone to be return to their safe lives. Since there's four more books in the series, I have a sneaking suspicion that more people are going to die and the first generation are not immune to it. I'd prefer to imagine and bask in ignorance and end on that note. ( )
1 vote Annannean | Jan 6, 2015 |
Loved this. The prose, the characters (especially Sorcha herself, and her brother Finbar). Very eager to read the next!

[Note that there is some distressing triggery stuff in the first third] ( )
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
Daughter of the Forest, a retelling of The Swan Brothers, is both wondrous and heartbreaking. Of all the fairy tale retelling’s I’ve read, it’s among the very best.

Sorcha’s the only daughter of Lord Colum, a lord in dark ages Ireland. She and her six older brothers grow up happy and wild, learning the secrets of the forest that surrounds them, until her father brings home a new wife, who turns her older brothers into swans. The only way for Sorcha to save them is by making six shirts of thorns, remaining completely silent all the while. Through the greatest suffering and tragedy, Sorcha may not cry out.

In the past, the greatest struggle for me with retellings of this tale is that it’s hard to distinguish the six brothers and make the reader care about them. Daughter of the Forest, perhaps helped in part by its length, succeeded brilliantly at this. Within the first hundred pages, I knew and loved each brother. Fimbar in particular was my favorite, but Conor came in a close second.

Of course, the brothers pale in comparision to Sorcha herself, the heart and soul of the story. She’s the narrator and our view on the events. She’s the one who’s struggling. She’s the one on whom everything rides. Under all this pressure and all the suffering she undergoes, Sorcha remains strong. She sticks to her task and is able to heal herself. She’s one of the most admirable heroines I’ve come across, and she should be the benchmark for anyone writing strong female characters in historical fantasy or sexist fantasy world.

This is not an easy book to read. After the somewhat idelic beginning, it gets quite dark. Be warned that there’s a rape scene in the middle of the book and that it effects Sorcha’s physical and mental health for the rest of the story. Even the ending is bittersweet.

When Sorcha frees her brothers, they have all been profoundly effected and cannot go back to normal. Her brothers also don’t seem to realize that she’s changed and grown as a person and continue to treat her like the little girl she was in the beginning.

Don’t read Daughter of the Forest unless you’re willing to cry, but if you’ll willing to take it on, you will find a beautifully written tale of one girl’s triumph over adversity. ( )
  pwaites | Aug 1, 2014 |
In Daughter of the Forest, Sorcha is the only daughter and the youngest of Lord Colum’s children. She is pampered by her brothers and leads a fairly idyllic life until her father is taken in by an evil sorceress, an overplayed trope in fantasy fiction, and her brothers are turned into swans. This forces Sorcha to figure out a way to break the enchantment. In the process she finds love, and so on and so forth. I found this novel to be pretty weak and unimpressive. There’s nothing original about the story. The writing style isn’t particularly captivating and the plot leaves a lot to be desired. This is the first novel in this series by Juliet Marillier, and I don’t feel a particular need to read any additional entries in the series. This is one that I would skip.

Carl Alves – author of Blood Street ( )
  Carl_Alves | May 26, 2014 |
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To the strong women of my family: Dorothy, Jennifer, Elly, and Bronya.
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Three children lay on the rocks at the water's edge.
You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are - you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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French Version of Daughter of the Forest, but has been divided in two books
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0765343436, Mass Market Paperback)

At the heart of this surprisingly accomplished first novel, first book of the Sevenwaters trilogy, is a retelling of an ancient Celtic legend. Marillier's story, however, is much more than a slightly disguised fairy tale. Young Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Irish Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, a domain well protected from invading Saxons and Britons by dense forest where, legend says, fey Deirdre, the Lady of the Forest, walks the woodland paths at night. Colum is first and foremost a warrior, bent on maintaining his lands against all outsiders. Not all of his sons are so bound to the old ways, and that family friction leads to outright disobedience when Sorcha and her brother Finbar help a Briton captive escape from Colum's dungeon. Soon after, Colum brings home a new wife who ensorcels everyone she can't otherwise manipulate. By her spell Sorcha's brothers are cursed to become swans. Only Sorcha, hiding deep in the forest, can break the spell by painfully weaving shirts of starwort nettle--but then Sorcha is captured by Britons and taken away across the sea. Determined to break the curse despite her captivity, Sorcha continues to work, little expecting that ultimately she will have to chose between saving her brothers and protecting the Briton lord who has defended her throughout her trials. Marillier's writing is deft and heartfelt, bypassing the usual bombast of fantasy fireworks for a rich, magical story of loyalty and love. --Charlene Brusso

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:17 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

First in a new trilogy. Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Her joy is shattered when her widowed father is bewitched by an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell. Only Sorcha can lift the spell by staying silent. If she speaks before completing the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, she will lose her brothers forever. Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment. But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever. When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all.… (more)

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