Title: Seer of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters, #5)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Rating: 4 Stars
Seer of Sevenwaters is a novel that seems deceptively easy to love on the outside, but the novel that lies within the pages of the cover and its synopsis is harder to form an attachment to. Now, that isn't to say that this story isn't beautiful and gripping, as every Sevenwaters tale is, for it is. And yet, at the same time, despite its sea monsters and memory loss, despite its strangers and sea tides, Seer of Sevenwaters leaves something to be desired in the wake of its predecessors, each more stunning than the next.
Sibeal, unlike the past heroines, is not someone I found myself very attached to or interested in. On one hand, her journey is perhaps the most interesting. Sibeal finds herself with her elder sister, Clodagh, on the island where her cousin, Johnny, trains his men. It is her last summer before she becomes a druid and although her faith is strong and she is prepared, Ciaran sends her to spend the summer on the island nevertheless. Within the first week she arrives, though, a ship is wrecked on the shore with only a few survivors. As Sibeal helps to care for the man she names Ardal, she begins to realize that the man has lost his memory. When he does finally regain it, though, the tale he has to tale is one so fantastical it is nearly impossible to believe. And the journey Sibeal will take because of it will change her life, and her calling, forever.
Seer of Sevenwaters is, in some ways, one of the best novels Marillier has written. In the Sevenwaters Saga, it is the only novel – so far – that features a male perspective and seeing Ardal’s narration definitely helped the novel. At the same time, though, it is probably the only book in the series that needs another narrator. Sibeal is a strong character, fierce in her devotion to the gods and unwavering in her loyalty and love. Yet, as a druid, she is forced to be calm, to keep her emotions in check, and that shows through the dullness of her narration at times. Furthermore, it is impossible to feel anything but distant and apart from Sibeal. While I sympathized with her warring feelings as she battled through an inner struggle between a life of physical love and a life of spiritual love, I cannot claim to have felt one with her as I did with each of the Sevenwaters women before.
Still, that hardly says much for this book is still stunning in every way. Ardal and Sibeal’s romance broke my heart, mostly because it is based on the most simple of human virtues. Kindness. Comfort. Peace. Understanding. Ardal and Sibeal hardly know one another, but through nursing him, Sibeal begins to realize that this is a man she can trust, one who will lend her his ear instead of his voice. Ardal, too, begins to see Sibeal as a savior, of sorts, as a light during his dark times. In every way, they are a perfect complement to one another and their path to love is bittersweet, but rewarding. It is with Ardal that Sibeal breaks from her stoic druid shell and in those scenes I felt a greater connection with her. If only it was that Sibeal we saw throughout the entirety of the novel.
Sibeal aside, the strangers who are shipwrecked onto the island bring a story of their own and the eventual journey that occurs in the novel as a result of them is incredible. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Seer of Sevenwaters is more plot-based than character-driven. A little like Son of the Shadows was, though not quite. Every scene in this novel builds to an eventual climax and the unraveling of a mystery is most unusual to see in a Marillier novel, but still extremely interesting and, as always, well-written. I cannot deny, though, my favorite parts of this novel were the glimpses of Cathal. (I almost feel guilty for falling in love with someone else's husband, but then I remember they're all fictional and all my guilt disappears...). From Heir to Sevenwaters, it was clear Cathal would play a large role in the rest of the series and his continued importance is a source of joy, for me at least. I cannot wait to see how his character keeps growing and changing, especially in preparation for – what I assume will be – the final showdown with his father in the concluding novel of this series.
Sadly, I have to admit that Seer of Sevenwaters is perhaps the weakest, for me, of the series yet. I enjoyed this novel immensely; there is no denying that, but not as much as its predecessors. It was a chore to get through some chapters and, honestly, it was the secondary characters that shone in this. Perhaps I am so harsh on Sibeal and her journey because I have seen Nessa, from Marillier’s Wolfskin, undergo a similar inner battle and face that struggle with more depth than Sibeal was allotted. Whatever it is, Seer of Sevenwaters is an essential novel for the series as a whole and its glimpses into important secondary characters – Ciaran, especially – make it an essential and worthy read. It is hard to believe that I am nearly finished with this series, but I suppose that, at some point, all good things really must come to an end.
Summer Series Reading Challenge: 14