Plot summary[ edit ] Set mainly in ancient Ireland, the series covers four generations in the family of Sevenwaters, which enjoys a special relationship with the people of the Otherworld. As well as battles between the Irish Celts and the Britons , internal conflicts between neighbouring landholders are integral to the plots. However, all six books carry a strong romance element. All the books are narrated in the first person by young women of the family. They have been turned into swans and can only be returned to their true forms if she creates a shirt for each brother with her own hands - and she must remain completely mute until the task is finished.
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Chapter 1 My fingers numb with cold, I fastened a length of gold-embroidered ribbon around the hawthorn and murmured a prayer to whatever spirits might be listening. Mother wants a son more than anything in the world.
The lone hawthorn, which stood in a clearing within the great forest of Sevenwaters, was hung about with many offerings: ribbons, laces, scraps of wool and strings of wooden beads. Such solitary thorns were known to be gathering places for spirits. Until my mother had grown so heavy with child that she could no longer walk here safely, she had come every day with a token to place on the tree and a prayer that she might at long last be granted a healthy son.
Now I carried out the ritual in her place. It was time to head for home again. My sister was getting married in the morning and I had a lot to do.
Deirdre and I were twins. She was slightly my elder, but I was the one who had inherited the household responsibilities Mother was too tired to deal with any longer.
It made sense. Deirdre was going. Tomorrow afternoon she and her new husband, Illann, would be riding back to his home in the south and she would have her own household to manage. I was staying. For the foreseeable future my life would be taken up with supervising serving people, ordering and checking supplies, solving domestic disputes and keeping an eye on my two youngest sisters, Sibeal and Eilis.
Now we were all on edge. Mother called this a gift from the gods. The rest of us tiptoed around the subject, fearful of speaking the unpalatable truth. Women of her age did not deliver healthy babes. Like as not, within two turnings of the moon she and the child would both be dead. The forest of Sevenwaters was as much their home as it was ours. Long ago, our family had been entrusted with the task of keeping the place safe for them.
This was one of the last refuges of the ancient races anywhere in Erin, for the great forests were being felled for grazing and the Christian religion had spread widely, displacing druids and wise women. The old faith was practiced only in the most protected and secret pockets of the land.
Sevenwaters was one of these. The path home wound its way through dense oak woods before descending to the lake shore. Today I must make haste, for by nightfall our house would be full of guests and a long list of tasks lay before me.
I owed it to my parents to ensure the domestic arrangements went as smoothly as if Mother herself were supervising them. It was the kind of match people called brilliant. Fortunately, Deirdre seemed to like Illann almost as much as he liked her. The oaks towered over me, their mossy boles glowing in the filtered sunlight.
My feet were quiet on the soft earth of the forest path. Between the trees, on the very edge of sight, moved evanescent beings, gossamer fine, shadow swift. In the rich litter of debris that lay around the roots of the great oaks tiny creatures stirred, scuttling, creaking, whispering. The forest of Sevenwaters was home to many. Badger, deer and hare, beetle, warbler and dragonfly lived side by side with the more otherworldly inhabitants of the wood.
It would be strange for Deirdre to leave all this. I hoped I could reassure him. I should speak to my two druid uncles as soon as they arrived. Tutoring his young student in the garden or in the peace and quiet of an isolated chamber was one thing; facing a house full of visitors was quite another.
Besides, he sometimes brought his raven with him. Folk found the bird unsettling. The path narrowed, snaking between groves of closely growing elders whose narrow trunks formed graceful, bending shapes like those of leaning dryads.
The foliage stirred in the breeze and I felt suddenly cold. Someone was watching me; I sensed it. I glanced around but could see nobody. There was no reply, only the whisper of the leaves and the cry of a bird passing overhead. My flesh rose in goose bumps. Besides, the forest protected its own. Nobody came in by stealth.
The Sevenwaters Trilogy
Heir to Sevenwaters