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Dragonclaw (1997)

by Kate Forsyth

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Witches of Eileanan (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9761818,771 (3.78)35
The Witches of Eileanan, Book One. A gripping story of witches, enchantment, magical creatures and dragons. Since the Day of Reckoning witches and magic have been outlawed on Eileanan. The great towers, once centres of learning, are now abandoned ruins. The penalty for practising witchcraft is death. Yet the Lodestar still calls to the R gh, king of Eileanan, making him uneasy. And there are those determined to restore witches and their craft to their rightful place in Eileanan. In a hidden valley deep in the mountains, in the shadow of the peak of Dragonclaw, Isabeau the foundling grows to womanhood in the care of Meghan, an old wood witch. Meghan can call animals to her hand and knows the secrets of herb-lore. But Isabeau dreams of adventure . . . Carrying a magic talisman that contains the last hopes of the persecuted witches, Isabeau is hunted through the land by the evil Banr gh. Meanwhile the sea-dwelling Fairgean stir, children mysteriously disappear in the night, and Isabeau's guardian climbs Dragonclaw to seek guidance from the most ancient and dangerous wisdom in the land . . . Dragonclawis the first book in the series The Witches of Eileanan.… (more)
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» See also 35 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
I will have to try again with the written book. The audio version was unreadable, ruined by the narrator's stunted sentence structure. It felt like listening to Captain Kirk with an Irish accent. ( )
  jamestomasino | Sep 11, 2021 |
Ugh! I have to quit for now. I can't appreciate the audio version. The narrator is Scottish and I'm not catching all the words. Some of it is written as: "Do no' look at it! ... Do no' let it breathe on ye." So I'm sure the narrator is doing a bang up job but I need to *see* it myself. Physical books on their way.

Wood witches. A guardian and apprentice living in a huge tree that leads opens into a cavern. I want to live there.
  Corinne2020 | Aug 22, 2021 |
(Re-reading)

The story starts just before Isabeau's sixteenth birthday and she is excited as she suspects that she is about to be tested for the One Power by her guardian, the wood witch Meghan - also known as Meghan of the Beasts for her ability to talk to animals. Isabeau's birth was at the height of the appearance of the red comet, which appears every eight years in the skies of Eileanan - which seems to be an island on a world that humans have crossed to but which was inhabited already by fairy creatures, some of whom look like variations of humans.

We learn that sixteen years ago the then respected witches of Eileanan were destroyed by Maya the Unknown, a sorceress who appeared from nowhere and married the Righ (king) and who has since persecuted any person or being with magic. Now, Meghan and her remaining fellow witches have decided that the simmering rebellion should move into action to overthrow Maya and return the rule of the country to the human royal family. As Meghan and Isabeau make their separate journeys through the lands, we meet through them other characters, both human and uihle-beast (fairy).

Dragonclaw refers to the mountain that dominates the landscape.

The story dragged a bit for me and some of the details didn't ring true. For instance, when Meghan's hidden valley is attacked by Maya's soldiers, she calls animals to aid in her defence and they are slaughtered mercilessly although later, Meghan refuses to wear furs to keep warm because they came from animals that were killed for their meat and hides. There is a torture scene of a young girl that goes as you'd expect (short of actual rape) until she manages to escape suddenly; I had completely wiped that from my memory, so it was an unpleasant surprise.

All the characters speak in Scottish brogue, and being a conscientious reader, the first time I read it I tried to hear them that way in my head but I found it really slowed me down (not to mention being irritating when concentrated like that) until I just read it straight.

'Do no' fraitch, Meghan, ye ken there's only the one pass into this valley and that's so well concealed ye'd have to ken where it is to find it. Besides, these mountains are a complete maze! Any Red Guard trying to find us would spend months backtracking out o' all the deadend valleys. And the lightning could have struck anywhere, how are they meant t'ken?'

I did think, though Maya's people were cast as the villains, that they have a cause; they were the original inhabitants of the planet but were pushed out of their traditional lands when the humans arrived and Maya herself acts as a pawn, hoping to win approbation. I wonder if the author will show us more of their viewpoint in future books.

The cover illustration by Neal Armstrong is gorgeous.

3 stars*** ( )
  humouress | May 8, 2018 |
This was a wonderful fantasy novel; it's very traditional swords and sorcery epic fantasy. This is the first of six books in the Witches of Eileanan series. Previous to reading this series I had read Forsyth’s Rhiannon’s Ride series (which I loved) and Bitter Greens (which I wasn’t able to finish). So I was pleasantly pleased when I enjoyed this book even more than the Rhiannon’s Ride series.

I loved all the interesting characters and world presented here. You switch viewpoint a lot but I was impressed with how quickly I became engaged in each characters story and the events surrounding them. This is a world where witches have been forced into hiding while a powerful sorceress takes over the throne of Eileanan.

There are magic, dragons, different types of fae and some interesting prophecies and traditions. There is a lot of adventure in here (which I love), some fascinating magic, and intrigue.

Overall I thought this was an amazing fantasy novel and a great start to this series. I loved everything about this book including the characters, the world, the writing style; it was all incredibly engrossing and engaging. If you haven’t read this fantasy series yet, and are a big traditional fantasy fan, I would highly recommend it! ( )
  krau0098 | Nov 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Forsythprimary authorall editionscalculated
Newlands, ElleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Isabeau swung her pack over her shoulder and strode down the track, her eyes roaming over the ground as she searched for the first unfurling of leaf and flower through the muddy snow.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Originally published as Dragonclaw in Australia. Later published in US etc, as The Witches of Eileanan.
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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The Witches of Eileanan, Book One. A gripping story of witches, enchantment, magical creatures and dragons. Since the Day of Reckoning witches and magic have been outlawed on Eileanan. The great towers, once centres of learning, are now abandoned ruins. The penalty for practising witchcraft is death. Yet the Lodestar still calls to the R gh, king of Eileanan, making him uneasy. And there are those determined to restore witches and their craft to their rightful place in Eileanan. In a hidden valley deep in the mountains, in the shadow of the peak of Dragonclaw, Isabeau the foundling grows to womanhood in the care of Meghan, an old wood witch. Meghan can call animals to her hand and knows the secrets of herb-lore. But Isabeau dreams of adventure . . . Carrying a magic talisman that contains the last hopes of the persecuted witches, Isabeau is hunted through the land by the evil Banr gh. Meanwhile the sea-dwelling Fairgean stir, children mysteriously disappear in the night, and Isabeau's guardian climbs Dragonclaw to seek guidance from the most ancient and dangerous wisdom in the land . . . Dragonclawis the first book in the series The Witches of Eileanan.

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Book description
'Twas a Time When Dragons Left Their Lair and Evil Shadowed the Land....

On the Day of Reckoning, the witches of Eileanan were outlawed -- and violations of the new order were punishable by death. Eileanan''s Great Towers, once meddas of magic and learning, were left in ruins. And now, the entire land trembles in fear....

Yet deep in the mountains, in the shadow of Dragonclaw, a young girl is being tutored in the old ways. Ignorant of her past, uncertain of her future, the foundling Isabeau will soon be forced down a dangerous path of prophesy, conspiracy, and magic. It is a world where dragons possess the he key to ancient mysteries...where a lost prince will discover a strange and wondrous destiny...and where the ultimate battle between good and evil will be waged....

A new Day of Reckoning is at hand....

[from the back cover]
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