Note: In the UK, this book is titled Dawnspell. In the US it is The Bristling Wood.
Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood is my favourite of the series so far! In this book the modern day plot follows Jill and Rhodry as they are forced apart by circumstance, and ends on a real cliffhanger where Rhodry vanishes, and it is up to Jill and Salamander to try and find him. In the past we meet another incarnation of Jill and Rhodry, at a time when the silver daggers are brought into being and Rhodry fights to bring the one true king of Deverry to power. In the process, we learn a great deal more about the politics affecting Deverry.
As I said in a previous review, because the flashbacks tend to be the bulk of the book, it is necessary to find them entertaining if the novel as a whole is to be considered a success. Fortunately, in Dawnspell I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Jill and Rhodry’s previous life, especially the novelty of Jill being reborn into a man’s body this time around.
Again, Kerr’s characters are a major strength. Lovyan stepped onto centre stage in this installment, and Kerr added in some strong females. As usual, the Wildfolk are very amusing. But one character I was genuinely curious about, and repelled by, was Perryn. His treatment of Jill, and the way he was able to entice women, was presented as extremely disturbing, especially because it was so involuntary.
All in all, Dawnspell is a great book. Because of the cliffhanger ending and the introduction of Taliesyn, readers will be desperate to read the fourth Deverry book as soon as they’re finished with Dawnspell, so have that ready! Katharine Kerr is doing a fabulous job bringing the world of Deverry alive.
Deverry — (1986-2009) Publisher: Even as a young girl, Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible realm. Little did she know her extraordinary friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past and a fateful future. Four hundred years-and many lifetimes-ago, one selfish young lord caused the death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he vowed never to rest until he’d rightened that wrong — and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill and all those whom she would hold dear: her father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against darkness… and a quest to fulfill the destinies determined centuries ago. Here in this newly revised edition comes the incredible novel that began one of the best-loved fantasy seers in recent years — a tale of bold adventure and timeless love, perilous battle and pure magic.
Act one: Deverry — In the UK, the third book is Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood, and the fourth book is Dragonspell: The Southern Sea.
Act two: The Westlands — in the UK, the third book is A Time of War and the fourth book is A Time of Justice.
Act three: The Dragon Mage
Act four: The Silver Wyrm — in the UK, these are continuations of Act Three: The Dragon Mage.