The Well Of Shades

Written by Juliet Marillier
Review by Andrea Connell

When I finished The Well of Shades (which I assumed was the last book of the Bridei Chronicles), I thought to myself that there were just too many loose ends for this to be the finale. I was not satisfied. Then I checked the author’s website and discovered to my delight that there will indeed be a Book Four (although there is no completion date yet). Now I am impatiently awaiting the next installment of this captivating fantasy series.

In the sixth year of Bridei’s kingship, he sends his chief assassin and spy, Faolan, back home to Ireland to investigate reports of a powerful Christian cleric whose charismatic leadership may prove a threat to the stability of Bridei’s pagan kingdom of Fortriu. Returning to his homeland, Faolan is forced to confront his past and his family, which was torn apart by the action of a cruel chieftain who caused the young Faolan to deal them a shattering blow. During his journey, he meets the young, battered, and strong willed Eile and her daughter, Saraid, who give him the strength to confront his own demons. Back at court, Bridei is up against a possible defection which could cost him his kingdom; and a new hostage, the sister of Anna of the Light Isles, brings evil doings to the court.

In this book, as with other series Marillier has written, the author picks up the original characters, dusts them off, and transforms them with the help of complex and compelling new characters. Fates become intertwined, momentous events occur, and the result is an absorbing and gratifying read.