The Silver Stag

Written by Eithne Massey
Review by Sarwat Chadda

The Silver Stag is a historical adventure set in Ireland during the 14th century. The story centres on four children in the household of the Sir Richard de Clare, master of the castle of Bunratty. Tuan is a member of the MacConmara family and a hostage of de Clare. Maude and her brother, Matthieu, are his wards. The fourth character, Cliar, is a servant and apprentice to Dame Anna, a witch who inhabits one of the castle’s towers.

The novel deals with the hunt for the fabled Silver Stag whose antlers Sir Richard arrogantly hopes to mount in his hall despite the legend warning that ruin will come to Bunratty should the Silver Stag be killed. It falls on the four children to stop Sir Richard from succeeding.

At first the various characters clash. Maude sees Tuan as a savage, Tuan hates the English, Matthieu lacks courage and Cliar lacks confidence in her abilities. But each develops as the story progresses, with Maude and Tuan taking centre stage.

The setting is evocative and though there is subtle magic, the novel is firmly historical, rather than fantasy.