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The Witches Of Eileanan (1998)

The Witches of Eileanan (1998)

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3.99 of 5 Votes: 2
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0451456890 (ISBN13: 9780451456892)

About book The Witches Of Eileanan (1998)

Originally posted on Under The Rafters on the 25th August 2012.The first installment to one of my all time favourite series, The Witches Of Eileanan, is Dragonclaw.With witchcraft and witch cunning being outlawed for sixteen years now and the Banrigh (the Eileanan version of the Queen) decreeing all magical creatures as uile-bheistean (monsters) and the need for them to be captured and executed, all the witches and witch-lovers of the land are growing restless. They wish for the old days to be back, where witches were allies and friends to all humans, faeries and creatures. The witches who survived the Day Of Betrayal are slowly gathering forces, appropriately named, the rebels. They just need to wait for the right time to reclaim what was once theirs.Some people may think that Dragonclaw may have a slow beginning and I would have to agree with them. I would disagree with them however, if they said it was a bad thing. It is only a slow beginning because Kate is starting to unravel the complex storyline of the book and give us an idea of where we are in the story of Eileanan. Why are the witches and faeries captured and put to death or exiled in the shape of an animal? Most of it is explained in the first few chapters in a bit of an information overload.The biggest put-off that people have told me about, even though it doesn’t bother me is that all the humans and witches and most uile-bheistean, “speak wi’ a bit o’ a Scottish accent.” I admit the first time I read the books I had a little trouble understanding at times but you get used to it very quickly.The thing I love most is the detail. Everything is described with accuracy and it makes it really easy for you to create a picture in your head of what the characters and lands look like. In particular, I found myself attracted to a young jongleur named Dide and the beautiful Cursed Valley in the middle of the mountains which has become overgrown with roses and thorns. The marshes of Arran however, gave me the creeps even though it was described as having its own beauty.Once or twice it got confusing as there are so many characters each with their own adventures. Sometimes you only understand why they are doing something in particular when they meet up with another character and find out what their adventure is. And it doesn’t help that Kate jumps between characters in the one chapter. To make things more complicated, there are three main villains each with their own agendas and each seeing themselves as ruling the land.Kate Forsyth has created a greatly developed world with amazing adventure and characters you will come to love and never wish to leave. The ending is a complete cliffhanger which makes you want to grab the second book immediately.

All magical creatures of Eileanan are persecuted by decree of Maya the Ensorcellor. Witches have gone into hiding, but a resistance exists, building their forces in secret. Isabeau, a young witch in training, knows very little of this. She is raised in the quiet wilderness by Megan, a old hermit witch, and despite her natural talent, taught only the rudimentary basics of witchcraft. After an attack on their home and sanctuary, they no longer can remain removed from the world. Alone and far from home, Isabeau must carry the hope of witches to safety while Megan travels alone to parley with the dragons.Kate Forsyth creates a rich world, an exciting epic adventure, and characters you will become emotionally invested in. The Scottish accent used in all the dialog makes the book difficult to get into at first, but you get use to it after awhile. The ending is a disappointing because there isn't a satisfying conclusion, but the second novel in the series provides ones in spades.

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Irritating characters, repetitive dialogue, and a very slow pace combine to make this novel painful to read. It starts out interestingly enough with the main character Isabeau taking tests and learning of the imminent danger the world is facing. The witches present at her testing part ways and we get to meet some unfriendly dragons. After that it's self centered, headstrong, do-no-wrong Isabeau walking through the forest encountering characters for a few pages, and then walking through the woods some more. I got the impression that the novel would skip ahead to Isabeau meeting the people she is supposed to meet on the way to the castle. Instead I had to read through 50 pages of traveling and playing around. I don't understand how details were skipped over in some of the explanations early in the book, yet we are forced to experience every step of an overlong trip. Some people can read entire books about traveling across the world, and some authors can write books about such travel very well, this was not one of those cases. Add to that the grating language and accent. If I have to read the word "ken" one more time, I'm going to throw a fit. More than that, every single witch has the same accent and dialogue no matter where they are from. It's strange. One specific point of irritation was that Meghan's familiar, a donbeag called Gait, was never explained. I don't understand why the author is assuming we know what a donbeag is. She doesn't even explain what it looks like. Very strange. A faster paced novel with a lighter accent and less repetitive use of certain words would have been so much better.

3.5 stars!The Witches of Eileanan is a very lengthy, fantastical beginning to a mythical series. It's filled with quests, rebellions, and bloodthirsty destruction that only power can bring. This book is overflowing with characters; some of which share their own viewpoint in a chapter or two. Although the characters bring originality and different sides of information in their respective chapters, I could really care less. Literally the only time I was completely engrossed in this book was when I read Isabeau's story. The other characters paled in comparison. I don't necessarily know why I was drawn to Isabeau - a naïve witch sent on a perilous journey to save the realm - but all I wanted to know was how Isabeau fared from the trickery and torture; how she would fulfill her quest without being dependent on anyone but herself.

A nice epic fantasy series. As usual for this genre, the first book is the best, and the quality wanes slowly over the course of the series. But the initial few are very good reads with lots of interesting ideas mixed in with the classic fantasy archetypes. (And they'll get you intrigued enough in the world that you'll probably want to read the last few as well, even though they're not as good). The main characters can be grating and annoying at times but the support cast is full of lively and memorable characters, and the world is very well developed. If you're new to epic fantasy, this is probably not the best series to start with. But if you're a fan of the genre, and haven't yet read the work of Forsyth, you're in for a treat.
—Doc Opp

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