Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Darkspell - Katharine Kerr

This is the second Deverry book and proves to be just as gripping as the first. Here we are dealing with a present time storyline of Jill and Rhodry's life on the road as silver daggers, and the danger they face from masters of dark dweomer. Jill discovers from Nevyn more about dweomer as he tries to gently encourage her to fulfil her Wyrd (destiny).

We also go back in time to a previous incarnation of Jill and Rhodry and Cullyn (Jill's father). The three souls (and others) have been twisted together because of vengeance, a miscarriage of destiny and incestuous love. Here Jill is Gweniver - a lady who pledges herself to the Moon Goddess, and therefore will be unable to take to a life of dweomer. Nevyn resigns himself to watching her die in the service of the Goddess and going back to waiting for her soul to be reborn. There is also a quick backstory to the start of the Maelwaedd clan (Rhodry's people).

I adored the whole story of Jill and Rhodry, and everything that happens in modern times. I found the masters of dark dweomer genuinely creepy, especially hearing what takes place during their rituals. It is lovely to see more of dweomer at work, including an entertaining piece of jewelry. I particularly like the way that Kerr ensures that there is always a downside to working dweomer.

One of my favourite characters right now is highly peripheral - Jill's grey gnome (one of the Wildfolk) is extremely cute and Kerr does well to lend him so much character since he is unable to speak properly. I also like Ebany a great deal, and suspect we shall see much more of him.

However, the success of these books depends greatly on how enjoyable the tale set in the past is, since it encompasses a large part of the novel. And I didn't get on with Gweniver - I found her naive and arrogant in turn. Very different from other past incarnations such as Brangwen (the first incarnation) and Lyssa (a gentle bard's wife). This is why I drop it half a star from the first book in the series.

The strong Celtic feel again embued the book with a sense of almost historical fiction - the language and the lifestyle is a fantastic part of each novel. Once again, I would recommend highly.

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