A dance with Fate by Juliet Marillier
Warrior Bards book 2. Macmillan Australia, 2020. ISBN:
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Following the Aurealis Award shortlisted novel, The harp of kings, once again the reader will be drawn into an ancient Celtic world, where Liobhan and Dau are determined to win a place on Swan Island's elite force. In their final bout, Dau accidentally knocks his head and loses his sight. Not knowing the awful treatment that Dau had received at the hands of his family, the leaders of Swan Island contact Oakhill. His family blame Liobhan for the accident and she agrees to go back with him and spend a year as a bond servant, but things are difficult there. Both Dau and Liobhan are treated badly and dark secrets abound. Meanwhile Brocc is trying to fit in the Otherworld with Eirne, fighting the Crow Folk and struggling to understand why they behave as they do.
The story is told in the voices of Liobhan, Dau and Brocc, each chapter giving their points of view of what is happening. Oakhill is a dangerous place for both Dau and Liobhan. Seanan, Dau's older brother, has virtually taken over running the estate, as their father is ill, and the servants must tread very warily, obeying his often-cruel commands. Memories of the awful treatment that Dau and his dog received at the hands of his brothers plague him and he struggles with despair, but Liobhan is resolute and caring, determined to help him behave like the Swan Island fighter that he has been trained to be even though he is blind. The steps that bring them to an understanding of what is happening at Oakhill and the resolution that brings Liobhan, Dau and Brocc back together is exciting and satisfying, and will leave the reader wishing that the next instalment in the series was available to read immediately.
Themes of abuse, both human and animal, torture, redemption, misunderstanding between husband and wife and the growing relationship between Liobhan and Dau are key elements of A dance with fate. Readers will enjoy reading how Dau and Liobhan both grow in strength and maturity, and how Brocc's compassionate and inquiring nature may lead to identifying why the Crow folk act as they do.
This series is beautifully written and sure to please any fan of fantasy.