Dreamer’s Daughter is the 9th book in the Nine Kingdom series, and the 3rd featuring Aisling of Bruadair and Rùnach of Ceangail. It is also a great reminder that not all series can be read out of order. I started out a bit confused, simply because I couldn’t remember what happened in previous novels, but by the time I finished I had fallen back into Kurland’s fantasy world.
First, though, a brief background on Aisling and Runach – Aisling is sent on a mission, one that’s basically the set-up for an epic, old-school fantasy adventure, that leads her to Runach. Together, starting where the previous novels left off, they must travel into Bruadair (Aisling’s home) and find a way to save her country, by finding out what is happening to the magic. On top of this, Runach is still dealing with dark magic that may be a remnant of his father’s evil, and Aisling has to work at accepting that she has magic at all. And then there are the family members, a brief appearance from an ex-fiance (which is handled surprisingly quickly and mostly off-screen. Or off-page, as it were,) foster parents, real parents, and someone who should be dead but is waiting at the finish line for Aisling to show up. Whew. Basically: there’s a lot going on.
It’s actually kinda surprising – with everything going on, it feels like things are rushed and almost haphazard, but sitting back after reading the whole novel, I could see the very clear plot line and how everything wove itself around it. It’s a little ironic, as one of the main magic structures in the story centers around spinning and weaving. The romance here isn’t particularly strong, but this story isn’t about that – it’s more a coming-of-age type tale, one of Aisling learning to accept who she is and what she is capable of. The relationship between her and Runach is still a nice addition to the story – they balance each other well, and they definitely seem stronger as a team than individuals. Plus, they get bonus points for a healthy relationship. There’s no miscommunication, no power struggles, just the obvious caring and worry over a loved one in a dangerous situation. All the conflict comes from the outside, and they are both (Runach especially) committed to providing a solid front.
I did, however, spend quite a bit of time confused. As I said before, the series is both long and detailed and while I love good world-building, jumping in at the end of the story without rereading previous books was not a great plan (and admittedly, totally my own fault.) Plus, I had a lot of trouble keeping names straight, and I still don’t know how to pronounce most of them.
If you’ve read the other books, but it’s been a while, you may want to refresh your memory. If the series is new to you, back up a bit – if you don’t want to read the whole series, you can always start with the other two books in Aisling’s story (Dreamspinner and River of Dreams, respectively). The world is definitely worth jumping into, just don’t start with this one.