Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Juliet Marillier - Foxmask

Foxmask is the continuation of the tale started in Wolfskin, a story of the clash between the warlike Norsemen and the mysterious and magical people who lived at the top of the world in the land that became Scotland.
Truth and honor triumphed and though a terrible price was paid, peace has settled upon the land. A new generation is coming to adulthood: Norse and Orkney folk together. But the past is a thing that may be shunned but not forgotten. And when the terrible secret surrounding one young man's paternity comes to light, it sets in motion a chain of events that could send the best and brightest of the land on a journey to discover the truth. And that truth could destroy whatever joy these people have ever known.  

Comment: This is the second installment in the Light Isles duology by Juliet Marillier. The first book was another good story by her but it wasn't as special as some of her other series. I had hopes about this sequel and thankfully it was something I enjoyed reading more.
In this new story we meet Creidhe, one of the daughters of the protagonists of Wolfskin. She is now a young lady and she wants to eventually marry Thorvald, the son of Margaret and Somerled, the character whose fate was unknown at the end of the first book. Thorvald, however, doesn't seem to pay attention to her and when he reads the letter his mother had from his father, he decides to go on a journey trying to find him and get some answers.
Thorvald enlists the help of Sam and his boat but Creidhe finds out and hides in the boat because she has the feeling she will be needed where they're going. When they reach a distant island after a terrible storm at sea they are welcomed but everyone is wary and mysterious... can Thorvald'd father be there? Could it be the island's leader?
Well, the author did a great job again. I did like this book a lot more than the previous one. In this new story, most of the plot and situations happen in a more controlled but suggestive manner and not as many unfair scenes as the previous book had. When I say this, I mean situations where we could see how wrong or unfair to some characters things were but we were powerless to avoid them. Here, many situations are described in such a mysterious way that we can't really judge if they're bad or not, only that something must have to happen somehow.
The story is classic Marillier. We follow several happenings that to our contemporary eyes seems changeable but there's this aura of magic in the air that makes some actions have a double meaning, there's a very subtle take on many things, not only the romance but also the choices some characters have when it comes to certain paths.
I'm still surprised, though, with the way the author creates her characters and gives them such intriguing personalities. Sometimes I feel no one could ever be like that but then they do things and I wonder why more people can't have the same attitude or behavior. What makes the plots and characters unique is precisely what wouldn't work in nowadays society. An interesting dichotomy.
The plot is very simple but I couldn't stop reading because I wanted to know why there were so many secret looks and things happening. Why couldn't Creidhe let her hair down? Why had the men to participate in the Hunt? What exactly where they going to hunt? Many things were strangely mysterious and I understand the motivation of it but it still made me curious.
The characters are great. The first half of the book seemed amazing to me because of Creidhe's mysterious surroundings and rules about her behavior but the second half of the story presented someone new, someone I really wanted to know more of and that led to the romance which, once again, was so subtle and special...I'm not going to spoil it but the end is both great and bittersweet. I loved the fact we have an HEA but the way things ended...I get it but it feels so definitive and unchangeable...a bit like Child of the Profecy, from Sevenwaters trilogy.
There are some things we are supposed to find out through the book, namely if Thorvald meets his father. That one was a surprise alright. But I kind of liked how things ended in that aspect. In fact, most of the author's decisions about the fate of many characters was well adjusted. Much more balanced than with Wolfskin. The author certainly intended to present the possibilities, to let us see what happens when you choose wisely - or not - and in this book I think the lesson is done to be better appreciated by the readers.
Thorvald has the end he needs as do many secondary characters. It was interesting to see them realize what they have and what they want didn't necessarily have to be the same.
All in all, a good story, some things stay with me still, two or three unforgettable scenes, very well written and suggestive...emotional too... I do recommend this one but because so many things are better understandable and only have the intended meaning if one reads the other first...do so, please.
Ms Marillier may falter but never lets down.
Grade: 8/10

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