Thursday, July 2, 2009

Review & Giveaway: The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson

Many years ago, Conor, king of the Uliad, received a prophecy concerning a baby girl, Deirdre. The druids proclaimed that she would cause strife amongst his Red Branch warriors and bring ruin to his kingdom. Ignoring their warnings, Conor fostered the baby with two peasants deep in the forest and sent a female druid, Levarcham, to instruct her and groom her to become his wife when she reached an appropriate age for marriage.

Nearly twenty years have passed and Deirdre has grown into a stunningly beautiful young woman who is talented in the arts of the druids. Conor has been a frequent visitor and is eager to take her into his bed. Levarcham has put him off for as long as she dares, she knows that Conor obsessiveness will quickly break Deirdre's spirit.

By chance, Deirdre comes across three of the Red Branch warriors when they are hunting in the forest. The three are brothers: Naisi, Ainnle and Ardan. As she eavesdrops on their fireside banter, she realizes the kind of life that she is about to be committed to and is struck by the strong urge to rebel against it. She has no desire to become Conor's wife, he is a bitter, hard old man and the thought of being with him makes Deirdre ill. So she convinces the brothers to rescue her, to escort her to a neighboring kingdom where she can take refuge.

Helping her goes against every tenant of the Red Branch warrior code, but the brothers still agree to do it. They have become increasingly unhappy with Conor's abilities as King. Naisi, in particular, feels this way and Deirdre offers him an opportunity to highlight the growing dissatisfaction toward the King.

Little do any of them know that their plan will take them far from home, sundering them from all they hold dear. Except each other, though those relationships are also strained by their long journey. Naisi and Deirdre form such a strong romantic bond that it becomes the stuff from which legends are made. But it also means that they can never return to Emain Macha unless they face the wrath of Conor, who will have the power of a kingdom behind his vengeance.

More and more, I find this particular genre to be a favorite of mine. Historical fiction with just a touch of fantasy thrown it, set in a time when magic was believed in, it was still part of daily life. I love to see the author's interpretation of how a myth or folktale might have at its heart an actual occurrence, as if you could wipe away the embroidering that comes from years of retelling and see the spark of what started it all. Jules Watson does just this and does it so well that I could hardly put the book down. It is an excellent story, brilliantly told and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Visit the author's website for more information about her and her books. She is also the author of the wonderful Dalriada Trilogy, set in Ancient Scotland: The White Mare, The Dawn Stag, and The Boar Stone (titled The Song of the North in the U.S.). Her next book, The Raven Queen, will be published in 2010 by Bantam.

The Swan Maiden is published by Bantam. ISBN 978-0-553-38464-2

Now for the giveaway. To enter, just leave a comment that includes your email address, telling me why you would like to read this book. An additional entry will be given to anyone who becomes a follower (any current followers who enter will automatically get this), tweets the giveaway on twitter or blogs about it. If you do tweet or blog, please leave me a separate comment with the link. You can enter until midnight eastern time on July 16, you must have a US mailing address to win (sorry!). Winner will be drawn at random. Good luck everyone. Thanks so much to Jules and Bantam for providing my review copy and the book for this giveaway!

**Edited to add that I just got an email from the author, she will be sending me a signed bookplate for the winner of this giveaway! YAY! Thank you, Jules!


budletsmom said...

I would like to read this book.

I'm a follower.

budletsmom at yahoo dot com

Bridget said...

Hi! Don't enter me, just posted this on Win A Book.

robin_titan said...

I would like to read it because it looks and sounds cute! Just like my kind of read :)


Jake Lsewhere said...

I've seen a bit about this online and it looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

Elena said...

Just want to second the comment that this is a great book. I'm reading it now. I have my own copy, so I don't need to be entered in the contest.

throuthehaze said...

i love books like this! Count me in!

Im already a follower

throuthehaze said...

i blogged about it

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Dawn M. said...

I would like to read it just because it sounds like a really good love story. And you can't have too many of those. :0)

librarygrinch at gmail dot com

Rose Red said...

This is a new author for me and I love this genre--anything with damsels/maidens and anything ancient. Thank you for the balanced review as it is now on my TBR list.

espressogurl at hotmail dot com

Rose Red said...

I already follow on Blogger (rubymoon/Ally)

espressogurl at hotmail dot com

Suzanne said...

I would love to read this book! Please enter me in your giveaway!
*Love this genre- historical / fantasy !
*I follow you in an RSS feed!

Beth F said...

Your enthusiastic review has convinced me to read this! I love the idea of HF and fantasy mixed. Thanks so much for hosting the giveaway.

I already follow you!

BFish (dot) Reads (at) gmail

Beth F said...

Here's the twitter link:

teabird said...

I'm also very, very fond of books with fantasy and history mixed -
I'm a follower (of course! wouldn't miss your reviews).

teabird 17 AT yahoo dot com

MoziEsmé said...

Would love to read this book!

tetewa said...

This would be a new author for me, count me in!

ibeeeg said...

I want to read this book as I love historical fiction especially when there is a bit of romance.
I also have this book on my 2009 TBR Challenge list.


(I am already a follower via GoogleReader)

ibeeeg said...

I posted a link to this giveaway on my blog's sidebar.


Linda said...

This book has been on my wish list for several weeks. Mostly I read historical fiction; but would like to sample a novel with just a bit of fantasy thrown in. Please enter my name in the giveaway.

And, I follow through Google Reader.

Thanks. lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

celi.a said...

Historical fiction is an old standby for me, and fantasy is my new love, so based on your review, this book should be...PERFECT for me! But really, the premise is intriguing, and I love female heroines.
Thanks for holding the giveaway!


Beth said...

This looks really interesting and what a great cover!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Beth said...

I'm a subscriber via Google Reader.

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

I'm with you -- more and more I'm attracted to this genre. Over the past year or so I have really branched out and read a lot of different kinds of books, but lately I've been feeling that I want to "come home" to comfort zone. I love historical fiction, and a little bit of magic just puts an extra sparkle on it! I would love to read this book. I'm certainly going to add this author to my list of upcoming reads. Thanks for the chance!

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

. . . and here's my Tweet!

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

holdenj said...

I've never heard of this book, but your review really makes me want to read it. Dierdre sounds like she's a strong young woman and I, too, like it when the historical fiction aspect is also temepered with a belief in magic.

JHolden955 (at) gmail (dot) com


Kytaira said...

I would like to read this book because it sounds like one both my daughter and I can read. That a tough role to fill!

I am already a follower via google

lynda98662 at yahoo dot com

Sheila DeChantal said...

This is a fun style book for me - I love the fantasy and while I have not read a lot of it at this time... I am working into it more and more.

journey through books @ gmail dot com

Valorie said...

I would love to read this because I love Druids, history, AND fantasy.


Valorie said...

I follow.


Valorie said...



Valorie said...



Zibilee said...

I would love to read this book because I am trying to delve into fantasy, and I like the idea that it has historical elements as well. Please enter me in the giveaway!Thanks!


Marie said...

I would love to read this, it sounds great!

Marie said...

I am a follower.

etirv said...

I love fairy tales!

etirv said...

I already subscribe and follow via google reader.

Julie said...

I would love to win this book! Historical fiction and fantasy are right up my alley!


Julie said...

I'm also already a follower


Carol said...

I think I would enjoy this book! Thank you for the giveaway.

I'm a follower.

Carol M
mittens0831 AT

dag888888 said...

Please enter me for My Name is Will, thanks!

dag888888 said...


wilowraven said...

I love fantasy and this books sounds wonderful :)
Would love a copy. Thanks!


Misusedinnocence said...

Historical fiction with a dollop of fantasy is one of my favorites. This looks great! =)

Kimberly B. said...

Hi there! I'd love to read this book because I really enjoy anything to do with mythology and folklore, particularly Celtic.

CherylS22 said...

I'd like to read this book because it looks interesting to me & I love the cover.

I already follow

megalon22 at yahoo dot com

Ratoncita de Biblioteca said...

Please, count me in! :D I love Miss. Watson Stories: I usualy am an Spanish-Reader, and the lack of this author's stories in my language made me start liking English books too!! She is Wonderfull! here my e mail @

I bloged about this entry, here, the link.

Thankyou!!! :D

heatherzilla said...

This sounds like a great book. I love historical fiction and fantasy. Please include me in the giveaway. heatherzilla(at)care2(dot)com

ChristyJan said...

I love historical fiction ~ I don't know that I've read any fantasy historical fiction ~ this sounds like a great book to start with.


ChristyJan said...

I'm a NEW follower


Beth said...

I'd love to read this because it sounds like a good romance!

adriennelizbth08 said...

I would like to read this book because it sounds amazing, and I love fantasy/historical novels! I'm a new follower too.

Thank you!!

Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!

About Me

My photo
New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.