Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The House of Gaian

by Anne Bishop


In the conclusion to the Tir Alainn trilogy, war is coming to Sylvalan. The Master Inquisitor has had it with magic and female power, and plans to eliminate both from the world. Opposing him are what remains of the witches, a few of the Fae and a handful of western barons.

In this book we are introduced to Selena and her sister Rhyann, two powerful witches from the Mother's Hills. Not only is she a witch, Selena is also half Fae and a lady of the moon. Each of the Fae has a gift, and for every gift there is one who rules it: The Lord of Song, The Lord of the Horse, and so on. Once in a while a challenge is issued to the old ruler, and the new ruler may ascend to take their place. The loser is often killed.

Dianna is the Huntress and the self-centred leader of the Fae, but her powers are said to be waning. What happens next isn't much of a surprise, but whether or not the Fae can accept it is another matter. They are not too happy about having to protect the witches in order to preserve their own world, and they will have to make sacrifices if the Master Inquisitor and his army are to be defeated.

Meanwhile the Master Inquisitor is preparing another weapon in his macabre way. In some almost gleeful scenes of torture and horror he works his own magic to create monsters.

There are signs of impending doom as Morag and Selena are haunted by nightmares. Liam, Breanna and Falco are at Willowsbrook preparing for the worst, whilst nearly everyone else appears to be heading in that direction ready for a final battle. As a Daughter of the House of Gaian, Selena commands some powerful magic, perhaps too powerful. There is never any doubt about which side will prevail. However there are a couple of good twists at the end which keep the story from being too formulaic.

The main problem with The House of Gaian is that there are too many characters and side-plots. This makes it hard to get involved with any one character's storyline, or even to remember what their significance was in the earlier books. Jenny, Mihail and the Selkies have their story, as do Ashk and Padrick, Ari and Neall, Lucian, Breanna and Falco, Morag, Dianna, and so on. There is no single central character, and this lack of a personal focus means that there is little overt romance in this book, which is a shame because romance is one of Anne Bishop's strengths.

The above is not to say that The House of Gaian is confusing. As the characters come together to do battle it knits together into a coherent story. The moral distinctions between one side and the other are blurred as the witches are forced to use their magic as a weapon in order to survive. It raises some interesting points about personal responsibility and the short-sightedness of being selfish. Unfortunately this book loses its impact because the personal involvement with each character is spread too thinly, and it's ultimately not as moving as it might have been.

Book Details

Year: 2003

Categories: Books


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3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Anne Bishop