When the child Bridei is sent to the kingdom of Fortriu to be raised by Broichan, a powerful druid, he knows only that he must be studious and obedient. Bridei applies himself to learning, unaware that a secret council of elders, including Broichan, has long been working on plans for the future of their divided homeland, and that Bridei himself is central to their strategy.
When a baby girl is left on the doorstep one winter's night, Bridei thanks the gods for sending him a companion to share his lonely existence in the remote household. But Tuala's arrival spells a perilous complication to Broichan's master plan. As Bridei moves ever closer to his grand destiny, and as Tuala grows from fey child to beguiling young woman, powerful forces turn against the secret council; enemies will stop at nothing to foil the druid's plan, even if they must endanger Bridei's life.
"Having given pre-Celtic Scotland a once-over in Wolfskin (2003) and Foxmask (2004), Australian author Marillier returns with a much more in-depth study that draws on what little history is known and surrounds it with the pretty boy-meets-girl story of Bridei, a boy raised by a group of wily councilors determined to mold him into a king who can reunite their divided land, and Tuala, his fey-born adopted sister who runs wild while he studies and is outcast where he is welcome. No one familiar with the current crop of historical fantasy will be in the least surprised by Bridei's extraordinary ability to command both men and magic, or Tuala's struggle to be accepted as a strong-willed and intelligent woman in an alien and prejudiced society. Yet somehow, carefully rounding her characters and paying exquisite attention to detail, Marillier pulls it off so well that you completely forget you've read essentially the same story a hundred times before. Fans of Judith Tarr, in whose footsteps this tale meticulously treads, will be enthralled, and the happy ending—all too rare in first volumes of series, and only slightly overshadowed by the inevitable dark portents—will encourage new readers to seek out both future installments and past publications." Publishers Weekly
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.