Gair of Ceangail and his dark deeds have dominated the Nine Kingdoms series. If you’ve been following the series, then you know that all his children by the witchwoman of Fas are all dark, a fact that has been underlined through several incidents when they’ve been on stage previously. Like me, I’m sure you find the choice of Acair as the hero in this book a bit surprising, raising the question of whether there is enough white magic in the Nine Kingdoms to white wash him. Read on to see if Ms. Kurland delivers on the promise and how it all comes about.
Clearly, Nicholas of Diarmalt, Runach of Torr Dorain, and Sollier of Cothromaiche saw a spark of goodness in Acair which made them take him in hand and send him on a year of penance and reparation around the Nine Kingdoms and now a second year living without magic in a stable of all places. The author does a great job of drawing out his internal conflict between dark and light as he travels around the Nine Kingdoms visiting some familiar and favorite places, starting with Lake Cladach, home to Sgath and Eulasaid, who are, of course, as much Acair’s grandparents as they are Morgan’s, Runarch’s, and Ruithnead’s.
Unhappy at his fate but somewhat resigned, Acair arrives at the stables in Saraichte, only to feel uneasy about the energy which surrounds the place, as much as the owner’s niece and stable lady Leirsinn intrigues him. When the danger manifests itself into a murderous attack on Liersinn, they flee toward Benn Orain to hunt down Sollier so Acair can be released from the death spell that follows him to prevent him from using magic. Leirsinn reminds me very much of Morgan in the first book with her disbelief of magic and her shock when the horse, whom she’s loved and groomed since he was a pony, shows her his true colors and shapes.
Unexpectedly rescued from the elves by Acair’s grandparents, Sgath and Eulasaid, they find sanctuary in Lake Cladach. Like me, I’m sure you forgot that they’re Gair parents and bear their own share of sorrow on how their son turned out. The time here is both replenishing and bittersweet, but we do get a chance to let them indulge in family that they’ve both missed growing up.
Next Acair and Leirsinn spend time with Hearn and take advantage of his nook in the stable, as they hide from the evil that’s hunting them to eventually end up in Neroche, where Miach comes to their rescue and gives them shelter and succor. Here we spend a delightful interlude with Miach’s siblings, who vie for the honor of escorting Leirsinn. Once again Acair feels the bonds of family with his half sister Morgan, who’s willing to forgive and forget the past and move on with a new brother, having lost so many of her own at the well. Regardless of these cameos where we visit and meet with some much beloved characters, the story so far raises more questions than it answers and there are no major revelations yet with regard to either Leirsinn or Acair.
I can’t wait for the next book in the series to shed some light on what’s going on.
The New York Times bestselling Nine Kingdoms Saga continues in a land where light and dark magic vie, and where a reluctant hero and seemingly defenseless stable maid must join forces against an encroaching evil.
Acair of Ceangail, youngest bastard son of the worst black mage in history, has followed in his father’s footsteps, wreaking havoc throughout the world and leaving powerful enemies in his wake. After a year of reparation, he owes a final bit of penance: twelve months spent working in a barn without using his magic.
Léirsinn of Sàraichte understands horses, stable work, and how to judge men’s hearts. When she starts seeing shadows where there should only be light, she knows there is evil afoot. Unfortunately, it’s something she can’t fight on her own.
Acair’s attempts to aid Léirsinn only draw the notice of dangerous mages against whom he is currently defenseless. With only each other to rely on, Acair and Léirsinn find themselves suddenly in a race to save the world before it’s consumed by darkness…
Other books in this series:
Miach and Morgan:
Ruith and Sarah:
Runarch and Aisling: