Dragonclaw by Kate Forsyth, is the first of a six book series. Set on a world where magic is a part of nature and seeming much like an old Scottish fairy story. It even has a ‘Lochness Monster', though it is not called that. Unlike most fantasy stories, it is not centred around one central hero or heroine, but is a tableau of a group of witches and their rebellion against an evil sorceress, who is not what or who she appears. It is the story of a journey, and the personal battles of each of the characters on their quest. They encounter fairy beings, dragons and evil witch hunters. They are continually being chased, as all witches and creatures of magic are outlawed and to be caught means torture and death.
Dragonclaw is not an easy book to categorise, though it has aspects of other fantasy stories by having dragons and a king of thieves ruling an underground, witches and magical beings, it is like no other. One character in the book speaks of history being formed by ‘The Spinners' who weave their lives; each of them being threads which only when looking back, can you see the tapestry of life as they are woven together. This book is much the same. The reader follows individuals who seem to be separate threads only sometimes coming into contact, but looking back, create a complete picture of their interconnected lives. Dragonclaw is only an introduction, though much happens, we are introduced to the many threads, which weave together.
If you long for great battles and epic fantasy, this book is not for you. It is a quiet read. The witches of this coven are earth witches, who, as part of their initiation, swear to do no harm except in self-preservation. Some follow this dictum to the point of strict vegetarianism. The animals are seen as of equal worth as human beings. This story is about a small groups battle for freedom and fight to change the world they live in.
Although I would not want to pidgeon-hole this book as being more interesting to one sex or the other, it feels like a very female orientated book, full of subtleties, slowly building a picture of this world and the characters in it.
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