Think I bought this book about 3 yrs back in the local bookstore. One of the few books in the Fantasy/SF section that is not written by Eddings, Feist, Brooks and other common fantasy authors. Bought the book because of the beautiful front cover which sadly looks rather worn out by now. I do usually take better care of my books but sometimes, one does make the occasional mistake of not holding it properly. Sad to say that there are 3 missing pages. Sigh.
The setting is in Ireland or rather Éirinn as it was known during pagan times. Not an easy read compared to modern day fantasy books but still a lot easier to skim through compared to Tolkien. Surprisingly, when I borrowed this book to a Tolkien lover, she couldn't quite understand the story. Oh well. Probably because of all the Gaelic words strewn throughout the book.
The story is centered around the Hunter and the White Stag. The hunt must be completed before the sunrise of Beltaine Day. No one knows who the Hunter is and the White Stag is a very elusive creature. Imagine having to chase down a speedy animal across the plains and mountains of a beautiful scenic island.
At the same time, another story is centered around the Hunter who happens to be a bard as well. For he must find a cure for Roisin Dubh, beautiful and yet doomed to be an ugly hag for the rest of her life. At the same time, he is bounded by geias and yet manages to be the great hero at the end of the day.
The book is well written with the author tantalizing one's mind with the story. Not revealing too much in the beginning but it clicks all together once one get into the middle of the book. She describes how Ireland would have looked like centuries ago. Similar to the landscape in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, she also provides a glossary for Gaelic names and places used in the book.
With this, I end this review with a poem found in the book :
Let me go, gentle Lady, The Stag calls and I must be away.
Ochone, mo mhúirnín, but stay awhile more. Come, listen to the pipers play.
Sweet Goddess, open the gates of Brugh na Morna. My geis urges me be gone.
And so it will an hour from now. Refresh yourself from my cup, Blackthorn. My maidens will sing ere long.
Giver of Gifts, Blessed Áine, grant me release that I might seek my heart's desire!
Your heart's desire? Why, go then, and seek it.
But be not amazed, Conall mac na Caillí, if Áine knows the desires of the heart better than does the Hunter of Éirinn