We American readers have to wait a loooong time for Juliet Marillier's books to be published in the US. After reading The Dark Mirror last fall and an excerpt of The Blade of Fortriu on her website, I knew I'd have to get it shipped from Amazon.uk. Well worth it!
The Blade of Fortriu picks up 6 years after the end of The Dark Mirror. Bridei is king, and he and Tuala have a small son, Derelei. The kingdom has been peaceful, but Bridei has not forgotten his dreams of reclaiming territories taken by the Gaels and reuniting the kingdom under the old faith. To that end he sends Ana, the royal hostage to make a marriage of alliance with a powerful Caitt chieftan, Alpin of Briar Wood. Ana is escorted on the journey by Faolan, Bridei's bodyguard/spy/assassin/reluctant friend, a man thoroughly dispised by Ana. After a disastrous journey, Ana and Faolan reach Briar Wood, a place of secrets, violence and a captive kept in the most bleak of circumstances.
Once again, Juliet Marillier has constructed a completely believable world, peopled by characters the reader cares about. At it's heart, this is Faolan's story and we learn why presents himself as an emotionless assassin and spy. Life changes completely for Faolan at Briar Wood. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a great story with lots of adventure and emotional impact. Now I'll have to order The Well of Shades (last in the trilogy) from Oz, I guess!!