November 19, 2006
The Deer’s Cry by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison
Celts colonizing space? I’ll admit I was rather skeptical when I heard of the premise for Patricia Kennealy-Morrison’s Keltiad series. But she actually managed to pull it off pretty well. Now, you have to set aside your own knowledge of history, and think of this book as an alternate timeline. The story starts out in early medieval Ireland with the friendship, and later growing enmity between Brendan, the son of a chieftain, and Padraig a Christian missionary. The plot takes a while to get to the point, as the tensions between the two faiths build up. Finally after a confrontation, Brendan and his buddies decide that in order to preserve their polytheistic ways, they will have to emigrate. Conveniently they know an old Atlantean fellow (Atlantis has to figure into this somehow, right?) who remembers the technical know-how for space travel. So, after much preparation, and political drama, they leave and eventually find a lovely solar system to colonize.
This is a prequel for the rest of the Keltiad series- earlier books were written about the “Kelts in Space” civilization, and so this one explains how and why they went there in the first place. The book was basically ok- I thought it took way too long to set up the story and get the plot moving. Also, the Evil Oppressive Christians theme is much too heavy-handed, offensive in fact and an over-simplification of the conversion of Ireland. Still, it was a fun read, but not at the level of caliber of the Sevenwaters Trilogy or the Mists of Avalon. I have heard from other reviews of this book that other Keltiad books are much better than this one. So I will be checking those out later on.
Phoenix Dance by Dia Calhoun
Phoenix Dance becomes an apprentice to the royal shoemaker. When the 12 princesses keep wearing out their shoes each night, the shoemaker is blamed for making lousy shoes. The queen declares that anyone who can solve the mystery of the shoes will get a handsome reward. Phoenix takes on this challenge, while also facing her own internal problems- the Illness of Two Kingdoms, or as we call it in our world- bipolar disorder.
I found this book quite enjoyable- the story was exciting and drew me in and Phoenix is a believable, sympathetic character. Windward is an original, well-realized world with a nautical culture- it does not really have any fantasy cliches. The author is very good at writing beautiful, evocative depictions of scenery without falling prey to having them be too long.
P.D. is a companion to Calhoun’s earlier novel, Aria of the Sea– it is set in the same place, the archipelago kingdom of Windward probably about a decade later, and features a few of the same characters in the story like Cerinthe Gale and Elliana Nautilus. I read that one several years ago, and will probably have to read or look over it again in order to give it a proper review here, but it’s also a very good read- it isn’t necessary to read it before Phoenix Dance, but I would recommend it as you will get more out of it that way