Book Review by Julianne

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Dragonclaw is the first book of six from the series The Witches of Eileanan by Australian author Kate Forsyth. On Eileanan, sixteen years ago, the Righ Jaspar took on a new wife - Maya. They claim that she has ensorcelled the Righ. Since her arrival, the first coven of witches and the towers have been destroyed in the Day of Betrayal. Now, instead of witchcraft being an honoured profession, practicing witchcraft has a penalty of death to anybody caught. Finally the Red Comet is back in the sky, and this always indicates that change is afoot.
Dragonclaw starts with Meghan of the beasts, and her ward Isabeau in the secret hiding location at the foot of Dragonclaw. Even though witchcraft is outlawed, Isabeau and Meghan follow the old ways, and Isabeau takes her second set of tests to become an apprentice witch to Meghan. During her tests, a witch sniffing seeker and member of the Anti-Witchcraft League (AWL) and members of the Red Guards discover them in the end of their sacred rites which starts a set of events where Meghan and Isabeau are forced to separate and to go back out into the world again to follow the omens of the time and work towards the resurrection of witches as a vital part of their society again.
The main characters are: Meghan of the beasts; Isabeau her ward; Iseult the scared warrior and twin sister of Iseabeau; Bacaiche the cripple and Maya the Ensorcellor. Eileanan is an island country, and the struggle is primarily between the witches and the many faery creatures or uile-bhiests native to the land, and the banrigh and her AWL. Dragonclaw is in the style of epic fantasy. Main characters endure trials and tribulations along the way, and secrets are slowly revealed as the story grows. Political motivations are not always as clear as they appear, and many questions are still unanswered at the end of the book. It is about growing up and taking responsibility for actions and following ones destiny.
Kate Forsyth's writing is similar in style to some of the works by Janny Wurts, Raymond E Fiest. There is a heavy Scottish influence included in the writing with all the characters having scottish accents and names. Her writing is easy going and heavily nature based. It is easy for the reader to follow the story, as the leader is taken from place to place to follow the storylines of the various lead characters involved in the plot.

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