The Greener Shore

Written by Morgan Llywelyn
Review by Viviane Crystal

Briga, wife of the chief druid, Ainvar, becomes the first true Gael of Ainvar’s tribe. The first to leap upon Hibernia’s beautiful, earthen shore, she also recognizes the necessity of adaptation. This is the focus of this follow-up novel to Llywelyn’s Druids.

Ainvar’s Carnute survivors blend with their new neighbors, learning of their victory over a mysterious tribe, the Tuatha De Danann, which evokes fear in spite of their defeat. Initially Ainvar connects with the spirits of this tribe, but unexpected change is afoot for all the characters. Some will receive and nurture gifts of storytelling, crafting tools and jewelry, excelling in warfare, and more. Briga’s druidic powers increase while Ainvar’s briefly surge and then just as quickly wane. The magic of this novel lies, however, in the physical appearance, history, and magic of Eiru, or Ireland as we now know it. The last refuge from the rapacious Romans under Julius Caesar, Eiru’s lush green earth, animals, and spirits promise restoration and renewal to Ainvar’s people as they merge with the local population of Milesians, ancient Firbolgs, and others they will eventually encounter.

Although Briga is purported to be the protagonist of this novel, Ainvar’s narrative voice holds sway over the reader’s attention, a voice that seems frequently confused, if not whining. It is he who comes across as the one seeking to teach his people, before it is too late, the druidic precepts that will guarantee his and their survival; that singular focus provides the fascinating conflict with the local inhabitants who fear and abhor any druidic connection. But mysticism and magic keep reappearing to remind the reader that spirit prevails, a fact that this author excels in creating and whose haunting, lyrical passages feel so very real and memorable!