"Juliet Marillier is among the most skilled of fantasy writers" (Sara Douglass)
King Bridei is preparing for the long-awaited war to drive the Gaelic invaders out of the west. He sends Ana, a hostage of Fortriu since childhood, north to make a strategic marriage which will strengthen his chances of victory. Ana is escorted by a man she despises, the enigmatic Faolan, Bridei's assassin and spy. Their expedition is ill-fated, and their destination of Briar Wood, stronghold of the chieftain Alpin, proves to be a place of dark secrets. Ana is drawn towards a mysterious prisoner, while Faolan must walk a delicate path between loyalty and betrayal.
Bridei's forces march into battle. To those left behind, the omens become clear: the king is heading towards certain death. There is only one messenger who can reach him in time, but to use him will endanger Ana's chance of happiness...
Juliet Marillier was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, a town with strong Scottish roots. She graduated from Otago University with degrees in arts and music, and has had a varied career which includes teaching and performing music as well as working in government agencies. Juliet now lives in a hundred-year-old cottage near the river in Perth, Western Australia, where she writes full-time. She is a number of the druid order OBOD. Juliet shares her home with two dogs and a cat.