Misfortune of Vision

Written by Christy Nicholas
Review by Thomas j. Howley

In this 4th book in the Druid’s Brooch series, it’s 1177 A.D. in Ireland, it appears Norman invaders are on the march from their strongholds around Dublin northward towards the clan holdings of the Dun Sléibhe in Ulster. In her sixties, Orlagh is the clan’s healer with the gift of future vision. With a foot in both Christianity and Celtic Paganism, Orlagh wisely never reveals whence her visions come. Some church leaders view her suspiciously while others respect her. Orlagh is having trouble convincing her chief of the approaching threat. She also has a secret which requires her completing a difficult and urgent mission. She must find a worthy heir to bequeath a magical brooch before she becomes too old and feeble.

Orlagh searches for her grandson, who turns out to be a rather weak and greedy young man called Declan. To complicate matters, Declan has become close to a Viking girl who has been trying to help him. Orlagh is accompanied by an old warrior who is a good friend on her quest and occasionally by a fosterling, a very young girl called Clodagh. An ancient wizard named Adhna adds to the cast of characters as the slow start tensely builds to a dynamic and otherworldly ending.

Thoroughly researched, the novel brims with a magnetic appeal to lovers of Irish medieval history. The characters are keenly developed and mostly likable, especially Orlagh and Adhna. The Gaelic words might be challenging to some, but were charming and musical to my ears. I found the presence of so many Vikings a bit distracting at the late date of 1177. Describing the Norman advance, the author presciently illustrates some examples of how the Christian Normans would eventually become rather easily absorbed by the people they were trying to invade. Another magical book by Christy Nicholas.