Once every nine years the sacred elk runs through Eire and the designated hunter must hunt him before Bealtine Day. This year the task is all the more difficult because Shadow has reared his head and Scaileanna and Orcs are abroad, ravaging the villages that lie in their path. There is also a false hunter who wishes to kill the sacred elk and bring the Light forever to Shadows. The Mighty of Eire, the Midhe and the Sidhe align themselves to fight the Shadow and help the called hunter. For only when the sacred elk dies by the spear of the hunter will the Light survive, and magic still aid Eire.
In this world the poets are deemed the greatest because their words can make or mar a person. Mothers are revered for the far reaching powers they have and the Kings fight lustful for the Glory. The women are not consigned to the hearth, but stand in the forefront as leaders, it is the men who seem to be a step behind. This is the world Blackthorn the bard loves, when he is called to be Hunter of the Light, he knows he has to put all he has into the hunt and succeed at any cost or all Eire will suffer.
This fairy tale charms its way into your heart with references to elves, spells and mighty warriors. It harks upon the times when men walked with fairies and were privy to their secrets. But those were not innocent times, life was hard for all and danger lurked at all bends. It was in these times that nature was at its most beautiful and terrible, and men needed to be true survivors or fall.
The words of the tale are chosen with utmost care by the writer, making sure they maintain the folklore-like tone of the tale. The story never falters, never loses its step. The descriptions are almost cinematic, making the world come alive virtually in your mind. We see the long limbed dark hunter stride through the forest, stalking his prey. We see the evil elves, quick to wreck havoc upon peaceful folks, and the greed in the heart of the false hunter who wishes to rule Eire with the aid of the Shadow. The poet Scatach, dancer Meacan, Mother Liannan, King Niall, Reatach the shape shifter and Cessair the Sidhe warrior, Una, all come alive for us. It also tells us that all will be right with the world if Love prevails, for the relentless hunter Blackthorn is also a true lover, who must race against time to lift the spell on his beloved Roisin Dubh.
This magnificent book is written by Risa Aratyr, though it seems as if the tale has come down from a line of bards, like Iliad. Her vivid prose is worthy of high praise, and the book deserves the kind of success Lord of the Rings has.
How did I come by the book is a story in itself and needs to be told in detail, which I will do soon, I promise.