Fifth in the Nine Kingdoms fantasy series revolving around the surviving siblings of the blackest mage known in the history of the Nine Kingdoms; it’s also a bridge story continuing the adventures of Ruith of Ceangail and Sarah of Doìre. (I also believe it takes place during or shortly after the adventures in Princess of the Sword.
Part of what I enjoy about the Nine Kingdoms is the casual manners of its good royals and mages. The mischievousness of the main characters as children and their resultant scoldings as recalled by both the characters and the mages catching them creates a warmth and an empathy between the reader and the story. Although, I will admit, Kurland does not make it easy to figure out Sarah’s reasons for confronting the world. Ruith’s purpose is easy enough, but Kurland just keeps dropping hints and you need to read the entire story to get a glimmer.
The main purpose of this story is for Ruith to realize that he must use his magic and Sarah to come to understand her particular ability and her true origins. He cannot continuing burying his abilities if he is to keep those he loves safe and Sarah has an entire history to absorb. (The purpose of the series is to reunite the siblings…as far as I can tell…)
Poor Ruith. His courtship is on rocky ground although I do enjoy his efforts to get those ten princesses out of the way. Then there’s Sarah’s ruthless efficiency. I loved Ruith’s comment about “resigning the position of [her] guardsman…[so that he may]…hire her to protect him.”
Ooh, a spell of invisibility allows Ruith and Sarah to eavesdrop on Morag and Phillip; it provides quite a back history on important events.
Between her mother, brother, and Ruith, Sarah has vowed to have no more to do with mages or their magics. And this kidnapping is only solidifying her choice. Still, Sarah sees and it is this ability that Ruith needs if he is to locate every one of his father’s spells and destroy them. If only he could do it without Sarah. He wants no more danger to threaten this woman.
Unfortunately, there are too many who would hurt her and between providing Sarah with protection and her ability to see, Sarah is compelled to set out on this dangerous journey of discovery with Ruith. Luckily, they do receive unexpected aid along the way. Spells and shape-changing horses from Soilléir of Cothromaiche and his mysterious servant and then after a visit with King Uachdaran, king of the dwarves, yields a tool of Sarah’s trade.
All of which helps when they fall into the clutches of Queen Morag.
Sarah of Doìre is a weaver and the daughter of Seleg, the witchwoman; her brother Daniel worships at Gair’s altar of world domination. Franciscus, the alemaster of Doìre, has loved Sarah as though she were his own…and it seems he had reason.
Prince Ruithneadh “Ruith” of Ceangail has spent the last 20 years as a hermit mage on the mountainside. After the trauma of losing his entire family at the well when his father betrayed them all, Ruith wants nothing more to do with magic. Rùnach is another brother whom Ruith discovers.
Soilléir of Cothromaiche is a master wizard who lives in Buidseachd and is the keeper of the spells of essence changing. He prefers to approach life in a very roundabout manner. Droch of Saothair is another of the wizards at Buidseachd; he is the master of the spells of Olc. King Uachdaran, king of the dwarves, has a bard-historian, Master Eachdraidh, who is excessively interested in Sarah.
Ruith’s Family Background
Ruith’s mother was Princess Sarait of Tòrr Dòrainn. King Sìle of Tòrr Dòrainn is Ruith and Morgan’s elven grandfather; Brèagha his grandmother. Rùnach and Keir are other brothers. Sgath and Eulasaid are Ruith’s other grandparents.
King Mochriadhemiach “Miach” of Neroche is to betrothed to Mhorghain “Morgan“, Ruith’s younger sister. Ruith and Miach have a childhood history of sneaking into relatives’ studies and libraries to steal spells. A habit that continues to haunt their reception still.
Ruith’s bastard (and evil) brothers include Droch and Urchaid of Saothair, Táir, and Mosach while Amitàn of Ceangail is one of the bastards’ sons.
Thoir is the youngest son of Làidir the crown prince of Tòrr Dòrainn. And cousin to the children of Gair of Ceangail. The extremely rude and nasty Ardan of Ainneamh is one of the elves who helps Ruith and Sarah.
A story that keeps cropping up of the tragic death of Athair and his lovely dreamweaver bride, Sorcha.
Queen Morag of An-uallach is determined to suck the magic out of every person capable of holding magic. Everyone wonders how her husband Prince Phillip has stayed with her all these years.
The various types of magic include (but not limited to): Olc, a black magic wielded by Gair, Droch, Daniel, and the bastards; Croxteth used by Ruith’s mother; Caochladh, spells of essence changing; Fadaire is elvish magic; Camanaë; and, Caol is the magic practiced by Morag.
The cover is a closeup of Ruith in leggings, boots with a diamond-shaped inset in the cuff, a long jerkin, and a blousy-sleeved linen shirt, all of it topped by a very fuzzy hooded cloak. His belt is festooned with what I assume are various magickal vials and objects he uses on his travels with a beautifully sheathed dagger. One foot propped on a large rock, his stance is casual as his hands rest atop the hilt of his sword, its tip resting on the dried grasses that make up the foreground. In the background, a late fall is obvious in the drying, yet colorful foliage between Ruith and the turreted castle, itself brought into focus by the mountain range behind it.
The title, Spellweaver is all too accurate as Ruith’s abilities to wield magic speeds up and Sarah’s family history slowly emerges.