Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blog Tour-Review-The Raven Queen, by Jules Watson

Jules Watson
Spectra Trade Paperback(Random House)
February 22, 2011
$15.00, 544pp.

Synopsis from Random House

ABOUT THIS BOOK (From Random House)

In this dazzling retelling of one of Ireland’s most stirring legends, acclaimed author Jules Watson brings to life the story of Maeve, the raven queen, who is as fierce as she is captivating.
She was born to be a pawn, used to secure her father’s royal hold on his land. She was forced to advance his will through marriage—her own desires always thwarted. But free-spirited Maeve will no longer endure the schemes of her latest husband, Conor, the cunning ruler of Ulster. And when her father’s death puts her homeland at the mercy of its greedy lords and Conor’s forces, Maeve knows she must at last come into her own power to save it. 

With secret skill and daring, Maeve proves herself the equal of any warrior on the battlefield. With intelligence and stealth, she learns the strategies—and sacrifices—of ruling a kingdom through treacherous alliances. And to draw on the dangerous magic of her country’s oldest gods, Maeve seeks out the wandering druid Ruan, whose unexpected passion and strange connection to the worlds of spirit imperil everything Maeve thought true about herself—and put her at war with both her duty and her fate.

 My Review

Jules Watson offers an energetic epic centered around Irish mythology and the legend of Maeve, the raven queen.  I must confess, this is the first I have heard of this story but druids and Celtic lore will seize me every time.  Watson is a skillful storyteller and I was lured into the land of Erin right away.  There is a huge cast of characters and fortunately the author includes a pronunciation guide and key to who’s who.  I always find it difficult to move through a story when their are names I can’t pronounce or need a reminder of their relationships and associations. This did cause a labored beginning to the story, somewhat like I feel when reading books by Terri Brooks.  Without faulting the author, this just is what it is and makes for difficult reading at first.
Once you get over the initial stumbling over ancient unfamiliar names, this story takes off.
Maeve is fearless and fiery, bold and beautiful all at the same time. A woman all men love, yet fear at the same time. The power and strength of Maeve as she tries prove her worth in a world surrounded by men is universally recognizable and all women can relate to this character at some point. Watson forms her image of Maeve from legends of record, that describe her as a callous, sexually intoxicating warrior and queen with a bit of goddess too.  In The Raven Queen, Maeve has obvious flaws and makes mistakes that keep her real and identifiable but understandable as she is so often objectified. Ruan, the blind druid is the only male with the sensitivity and sight to reach her true soul.  It is this part of the story I find so mystically appealing.  I felt the middle of the story was somewhat tiresome heavy with battle images especially the one on one battle challenges with Cuchulainn, the King of the Ulaid’s protector.  Although  the ultimate challenge between best friends Ferdia and Cuchulainn was woeful and provided a pitifully sobbing repose, an outstanding scene.  I had a hard time identifying with the sacrifice in the name of honor that this fight profiled, even though it is a common theme in Celtic myth and history in general.
If you are a fan of Celtic Mythology you will want to read The Raven Queen.

About the author: Jules Watson

Author website

Disclosure: The copy of this book was sent to me from the publisher. This review is my honest opinion given without bias.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2011]. 

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