A solid book.
“There are three conditions you must agree to meet before I grant you this opportunity.”
“Firstly, the considerable skill you possess must be used only for good. You will not let bitterness or anger draw you down the darker ways of your craft.”
“Secondly, if anyone asks for your help, you will give it willingly. I do not mean solely those who come to you for assistance with their ailments, but anyone at all who seeks your aid.”
“And thirdly?” It occurred to me that I could be as good a liar as anyone. What was to stop me from agreeing now, and once I was out of here, doing whatever I pleased? I might yet live beyond dawn and see Mathuin brought down before nightfall. My heart began to race.
“Thirdly, you will not seek vengeance. You will remain in Dalriada and stay away from Mathuin of Laois.”
Take a bit of magic/folklore in an oldentimes Ireland; add in a Fae bargain (with all the complications that ensues); combine with a prince and princess who’ve never met outside of letters–and seem entirely different in person; and finish it all off with fairy tale magic of Dreamer’s Pool.
The characters are fun and really seel the story–I like the prickly/going to do the right thing Blackthorn complicated with the seemingly straight forward, but deeper than you’d think thug Grim. Oran, trying to be a good prince until he’s right up against the real world.
The plot is fairly fairy tale (which I enjoyed) and feels a touch incomplete (less so). The smaller plots are more than finished, but you can see there’s room for the sequels.
The setting is medieval (earlier?) Ireland. It’s as magical as that land has always felt, but nothing particularly new or interesting. It does feel more the scale of the world back then–kingdoms stretched miles/a few days’ journey, not over entire continents. A village or two and the surrounding lands is all that matters to most people’s entire lives. I kind of like it.
Overall, a great read. I’m looking forward to the sequels. Give it a try.
Random side note:
‘A wish? Why would I want a wish?’ “‘ Riches,’ croaked the dying salmon. ‘A sweetheart. Admiration. Nobility. Happiness. A new cottage for your old mother. How would I know what you might want? I’m a fish.’
This line cracked me up. It’s a tale in a tale, the myth of catching a magical talking fish. Who’s apparently snarky.