December 07, 2007

Daughter of the Hound

This book is a 2007 Science Fiction & Fantasy Cybils Award Nominee.

The matter of fact, first-person perspective of Luaine in The Warrior's Daughter almost lulls the reader into believing this novel is simply well-told historical fiction. The tale of Luaine, her mother Emer, and her father Cuchulaine, the Hound of the King, is a gripping, windswept romance one could imagine being told by Irish bards.

Luaine is curious and lively, proud of her mother, in awe of her magnificent father, who throws her in the air -- as high as the thatched roof of their house -- and races with her on his stallion as fast as he can. She is never afraid, except when her mother bids her hide from him. Her mother does not hide, though he returns home from the battlefield, blood smeared and with the beserker rage that fuels him still upon him. He has returned to tell Emer and his household to flee, for war is on his heels.

Luaine and her mother are a warrior's family, and live out the lives that honor and revenge set out for them -- through lightning quick betrayals and alliances, the wily King rules, and not all would trust him, yet his champion, Cuchulain is true through and through. Emer is an amazingly strong and fiercely independent woman who stands out like a blazing light in the masculine setting, and though she is very young and small, Luaine fiercely sets out to be like her parents -- but things are different for her. The King's druid befriends her, and gives her a raven, in whose white wing feather she can see -- the future. She recognizes the Siddhe who comes between her mother and father, and dimly, the fork in the path that will change her destiny. And when in one crushing blow Luaine loses everything, she recognizes that her path in life will never be the same.

Vivid period descriptions and a lush rendering of both characters and countryside make this book one to savor.

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