Misfortune of Vision is the fourth book in the Druid’s Brooch series that takes place in Ireland in the 1100s and involves an aging Orlagh, the Seer of her clan, needing to find the right person to bequeath her magic brooch to. Along the way the reader encounters a cast of characters and events that never disappoint!
Right away, there were four aspects of this book I really liked and were consistent up to the end. First, even though it was fourth in the series, I had not read any of the previous books and yet was well able to jump right in and follow the story and get my bearings right away. In other words, you don’t need to buy the box set to “get” this volume, BUT as you read, you are likely to find yourself wanting to pick up the other volumes anyway.
Second, it’s not overwhelming in terms of throwing history and culture at you. Instead, references to such things as Samhain and Beltane, the status of bards, and the sights and smells of a monthly outdoor market are woven into the story line and get explained almost organically.
A third strength of this book is that the author makes the basic nature of the main characters quite clear, and the reader starts looking forward to more, for example, of the cutting sarcasm Orlagh mutters to herself (“The self righteous ones were always spouting nonsense with every breath.”) as well as her often rough, bristly treatment of others and overall dogged persistence. Orlagh is one tough lady! This leads to another strength – the main characters are not stereotypical: the main character is a woman who is older and not necessarily blessed with the usual long wavy golden tresses, an ample bosom and a sweet little voice. In fact, in some ways it seems that those character types which are often main characters in other novels are here given secondary status, and those who might normally have secondary status are now main characters….certainly a refreshing innovation!
And last, but definitely not least, the story is told in a page-turning, fast-paced way, none of which is predictable or boring. Because the chapters are not lengthy, you can easily pace yourself as you read, and you are never left with a sense that you need to skim through some sections and more deeply read others in order to “make it” to the end of a chapter. Speaking of chapters, my only complaint is that I wish the chapters had short titles (rather than just numbers) so that I could more easily find my place when I forgot to bookmark it a few times. And one observation is that there are one or two minor historical or language slips, but they do not interfere with the story. Otherwise this is a delightfully crafted and carefully researched book, well worth a read!
I read Christy Nicholas’ Legacy of Hunger, the first in her Druid's Brooch series, a while ago and really enjoyed it. No surprise that I grabbed on to Misfortune of Vision when I saw it. The surprise (for me) is that I soon realized that I’d somehow missed two intervening books. Ouch. The good news, however, is that I was still able to follow along (even though it’s clear I’ve missed a ton), and that Misfortune of Vision was totally enjoyable. I love the 12th century Ireland setting, and Orlagh, the Seer heroine of this story. The plot is full of adventure, from Norman warriors to Fae lord, and beautifully written. Definitely an “excellent read” and definitely recommended.
MISFORTUNE OF VISION is a medieval fantasy set in Ireland in the year 1177. It’s a world of savage cruelty, but nothing in the book seems really unpleasant on a visceral level, although some characters face fates that surprised me.
In Ms. Nicholas’s telling, heathens and Christians exist fairly amiably together in mutual disrespect but little outright hostility-possibly because the faerie realm is a real power, though distant. The main characters are Clodagh, an old woman whose gift (and career) involves glimpsing the future, and her long-lost relative Declan, a young man whose clerical training has ill-prepared him for…well, really for anything in the world. Clodagh is always thinking of others, while Declan thinks mostly of himself. Clodagh struggles to make the right decisions, Declan mostly makes a mess of things. Having the heroine be a sensible old woman who’s constantly complaining about her aches and pains is a very nice change of pace.
Clodagh, while she lives, is the possessor of a brooch with magical powers; one of her goals in the book is to find the right sort of heir for this heirloom. Exactly what the brooch can do is a bit of a mystery, at least in this book of the series.
There’s magic of a Celtic sort in the world, but though there’s much talk of Faes, most of the magic is held in abeyance until the last fifth of the book. In this way, “Misfortune of Vision” reminds me of the structure of some 19th-century novels, which is not a bad thing. Ms. Nicholas has some effective descriptions of action and some nice understated humor, and she’s clearly done some research about what it takes to be a blacksmith’s apprentice (one of many predicaments Declan finds himself in).
One interesting aspect of the book is the reminder of how far out in the hinterlands our characters are. The Fae are just around each corner, but Declan sings the songs of the rebel priest Abelard—who was put to death 35 years earlier. The Ireland of “Misfortune of Vision” is a land where civilization and the land of the Fae seem equally distant—but maybe equally close.
I am voluntarily reviewing this book. I thank the author for sharing a copy of the book with me.