Iranor walks on the beach, an Immortal among the people in
these early days of the world. She meets a fisherman
mourning his brother lost at sea and asks him to teach her
what it means to be mortal. Sue Bridgwater & Alistair
McGechie have created a lovely fantasy reminiscent of
the Earthsea books by Ursula LeGuin and the Celtic
of the Fianna in SHADOWS OF THE TREES.
Kor-Sen is a small boy who lives with his mother Berget, a
weaver, in a hot, busy town. When they are attacked because
there is no man in the family, they move to a leather
worker's home in a different quarter and try to carry on
with life. But Kor-Sen's curiosity has been awakened and he
starts to ask questions about why he doesn't have a father.
He is taught to read runes along with a girl who is taught
in secret as the temple priests forbid educating girls.
Meanwhile, Drewin and Saranna, the children of Iranor and
her now-dead fisherman, are playing under the trees on the
Isle of the East - but they are not immortal, and weapons
can harm them as they are to discover when they travel to
the mortal world.
The separate journeys of the three young people form a
richly woven coming of age story, walking us among undersea
denizens, showing us the humble life of fishing folks and
elucidating the secretive ways of the Temple and Academy.
Kor-Sen learns to seize opportunities, make life twist to
his wishes. Saranna, like most women with few choices, goes
through life accepting her fate and letting others decide
her actions. Drewin learns about fraternal relationships
and cunning. Each one meets and loses friends, and finds
themself at the end of a journey changed from the start.
I enjoy that this fantasy departs from the usual heroic
quest or fight against evil. We see people choosing paths
in the dawn of the world. While we do not see magic worked,
the fight against fate, demi-god heritage and circumstance
is quite vivid enough to draw us in to the characters'
lives. Locations include a semi-sentient forest and an
underworld, so contrast and creativity abound. This is the
first story in the Skorn series by Sue Bridgwater &
Alistair McGechie and after reading the gently worded
SHADOWS OF THE TREES you can look forward to another tale
to be called THE DRY WELL. Fantasy readers who want
something different to the usual run of sword and sorcery
novels should enjoy the series.
Thank you Clare for this excellent review of 'Shadows of the Trees', it shows so much understanding of our work.
I would just like to mention that this is the second novel of Skorn, the first is 'Perian's Journey' which had its 2nd Edition in 2014. The paperback of 'Shadows' has some reviews of 'Perian' on its back cover. (Sue Bridgwater 6:14am December 30, 2015)