You’re probably asking why some as diligent at reviewing books that I have read appears to have skipped over a book in a series without giving it a review. The answer is because whilst I did give Elphame’s Choice a five star rating, I didn’t feel I could give it an honest review without having finished Brighid’s Quest. I regard the two merely as two halves of one book, despite the switch in the protagonist.
That’s not to say that Elphame’s Choice ends on a cliff hanger. Rest assured that it doesn’t but its ending is very much a bitter sweet happy ever after because the romantic conclusion is overshadowed by what I regarded as another needless death of a great character by P.C. Cast. As it turns out in Brighid’s Quest, it wasn’t needless and whist it hurt, it turns out to be fundamental to romance of the pair in the second book.
In case it’s not clear, Elphame’s Choice and Brighid’s Quest are the fourth and fifth books, respectively in P.C. Cast’s Goddess of Partholon series. Elphame is the grown up daughter of Etain, the current Chosen of Epona. The same Etain who was born in Divine by Blood, the third book. So quite a few decades have passed since then. In fact, it states that Formorian war that Shannon Parker fought in Divine by Mistake occurred around 150 years ago.
In fact, in both these books, events come full circle because the consequences of that war still have a profound impact upon Partholon of the present. This is one of my favourite things about series like this in that there is continuity. Events that happened in one book are not forgotten and are referred to from a different perspective.
On to the characters. Elphame was interesting not only because she was the half-human, half-centaur daughter of Etain (think ‘satyr’ without the horns) but how she just wanted to be normal instead of being treated like a goddess. What with Epona being a Goddess of horses amongst other things, you can see why Elphame would be so worshipped. Cuchulainn, her slightly younger brother who accompanies Elphame on her quest to fit in and rebuild Macallan Castle was quite the charmer. His story is in fact the one that binds the two books together even though it is the same cast through them both. Finally, there is Brighid, the centaur Huntress who arrives at Macallan Castle in Elphame’s Choice and becomes the protagonist in the second book.
These, like the previous books in the series, are very much character books in a fantasy setting so the action, what there is, is brief and towards the end. Whilst Brighid’s Quest resolves a story, there is certainly a strong enough opening for a continuance in the series so we shall see what happens in the future.
Good, solid fantasy reads set in a matriarchal world. Neither quite attains the same level set by Divine by Mistake but still worth reading.