In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.
Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.
With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.
The first Juliet Marillier book I read was Shadowfell, and I adored it. I adored that whole series. I’ve been anxious, ever since, to pick up another book/series by her for a long time.
Finally, I was able to squeeze this start to a new fantasy series in. Dreamer’s Pool is the first book in the Blackthorn and Grim series. And the two title characters, I absolutely adore.
We first meet them both in a prison. Blackthorn thinks tomorrow is to be her “day in court,” so to speak. Unfortunately, the powers that be have different plans – ones that will result in Blackthorn never seeing the light of day. Grim has the cell across from her. His only thought is of her safety, even when he knows what is to happen.
That night, a mysterious visitor appears offering a deal that’s too good to be true. Yet, what choice does Blackthorn have but to accept it. This delays her vengeance and justice for seven long years, but the alternative – no justice at all – is unbearable. So Blackthorn accepts, and makes the long journey north as bid….with Grim following along behind.
This is told in multiple first-person points-of-view. There’s Blackthorn, Grim, and the prince of Dalraida – Oren. I really enjoyed all of their voices, even though Grim’s stuttered way of thinking did take me a bit to get used to. I appreciated how different their voices truly were, how unique they were to themselves. And I can’t help but want to know more – especially about Grim’s past.
The story itself meanders a bit to get to the point. For a good deal of the book I know what happened, even if I can’t figure out how. So it was slightly frustrating that it took so long for everyone else to figure out. Granted, we had everyone’s point-of-view, and they only had their own, but still, that’s one of the disadvantages of this kind of storytelling.
All the same, I did enjoy the pace and the world. This is a beginning, a fairy-tale-like set-up to this new world. We get bits and pieces, and just the barest mention of magic. I’m dying to see what Conmael is up to (and who he actually is to Blackthorn). I already mentioned wanting more of Grim’s past. And I’m eager to see Blackthorn settle more into herself – though I know (and am glad) that her thirst for justice/vengeance will not wait for eternity….maybe just long enough to see it done.
Dreamer’s Pool didn’t grab me quite as completely as Shadowfell did, but I am definitely happy I read it, and excited to go on in the series.