Book Review: Dreamspinner by Lynn Kurland

Posted March 30, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Dreamspinner by Lynn Kurland

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dreamspinner by Lynn Kurland
Published by Penguin on December 31, 2012
Pages: 385
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Dreams of Lilacs, Ever My Love, A Tapestry of Spells, Star of the Morning, The Mage’s Daughter, Princess of the Sword, River of Dreams, Dreamer's Daughter

Seventh in the Nine Kingdoms historical fantasy series and revolving around Gair of Ceangail’s dead children. The couple focus is on Aisling of Bruadair and Rùnach of Ceangail.

My Take

It’s an interesting tale, but Rùnach has driven me nuts with his intention to take service as an anonymous soldier. I don’t understand why. And what’s the deal with Rùnach talking as if he has no skill at swordplay? Is he just whining because his hands are ruined? And if they’re so damaged, what makes him think he can earn a living as a swordsman? Nope. This doesn’t make sense.

It’s that third person dual protagonist point-of-view that Kurland uses, allowing us to see/hear and experience events from Aisling’s and Rùnach perspectives.

It’s Aisling’s tale that’s much more interesting. Poor thing! She lives in the most horribly restrictive country and is incredibly naive. Then she’s suddenly shoved out the door, metaphorically speaking where her naiveté gets her into such trouble. She has been, somewhat, prepared by Muinear with all those adventurous novels about heroes, but somehow those stories skipped reality.

Aisling isn’t all that much for logic, either. It takes forever before she figures out that she can’t send a hired assassin somewhere without telling him where he’s to go. Nor does she believe in magic. Not like Morgan who simply hated magic and mages. Nope, Aisling doesn’t believe in dragons, elves, trolls, or anything else that’s magical. Wait’ll she discovers she can spin anything!

What’s the deal with Aisling’s parents who are mentioned early in the story?

It’s amazing that someone like Gair could have come from a homebody like Sgath who loves working with his hands and has a passion for fishing.

Gobhann is a nightmare of a place. Freezing cold, inhospitable, and filled with men and boys who do their best to kill you…including the cook who’ll poison you for fun. I must say I don’t think much of Weger’s ability to hold someone prisoner.

Ooh, Rùnach has some nasty memories of his father. Why Sarait didn’t take the children and leave him, I’ll never understand. Of course, Rùnach also does quite a bit of reflecting about the him of today and the proud dandy he was in the past. He also regrets how fastidious he was. Another bit of the proud.

That Iteach is something else, lol. He’s desperate for adventure and keeps going undercover at each stop Rùnach makes. The cook at Lismòr is certainly appreciative, *more laughter*. It is interesting that Nicholas prefers to be unknown. I have to wonder if he’ll be “coming out” in a future tale?

Ah-ha! Another tidbit about Gair opening that well. It seems Sarait tripped on something and started to fall into the well when she started on her spells. That Gair was such an arrogant jerk!

Those Ceangail boys…the good ones…are a sneaky bunch. They’re all too fascinated in collecting spells, no matter who they belong to.

Dreamspinner itself is an annoying story, as it feels so formulaic. Couple that with two protagonists who drove me nuts with Aisling’s “mission” to find a savior for her country along with her stupid attitude and Rùnach’s laissez-faire attitude whining on about his lack of magic making him useless, and I suspect you’ll go nuts too.

The Story

Feeling stifled, Rùnach wants to run, and run far. And then he runs into the focused yet innocent Aisling of Bruadair on her terrifying mission.

There’s a death sentence hanging over Aisling, one with a time limit, and Rùnach’s chivalry compels him to guide her through their world.

The Characters

The Nine Kingdoms
There actually are more than nine kingdoms, for there are lands that consider themselves outside the bounds of the Council of Kings. Other lands include Durial, Meith, An Céin ruled by King Beusach, Wychweald is actually a tributary of Neroche, Melksham Island, and Camanaë among others. Penrhyn is one of the kingdoms on the council.

Aisling of Bruadair is one of hundreds of weavers in the Guild. Her parents’ only interest in her is how much they can get for her use. Her most priceless possession is The Strictures of Scrymgeour Weger as written by Ochadius of Riamh, a cousin of Weger’s. Quinn and Euan are her friends. Sort of.

Prince Rùnach of Ceangail is the second oldest of Gair’s children and has no magic, no sight, ruined hands, and nothing but mortal abilities tied to elven years. Rùnach does still retain his ability to read something once and remember it. Sgath gives him Iteach, a shapechanging Angesand steed.

Keir had been the oldest brother (Princess of the Sword, 3). Gille is one of Rùnach’s brothers and a very inventive shapechanger. Mhorghain, a.k.a., Morgan, is his youngest sister now married to King Mochriadhemiach “Miach” of Neroche. Ruith is another brother; he’s now married to Sarah, a Bruadairian royal in exile (A Tapestry of Spells, 4; Spellweaver, 5; and, Gift of Magic, 6).

Neroche is…
…the kingdom next to Wychweald where Miach is their mage king and Morgan queen. His brothers include Cathar, the now-oldest, and Mansourah. Adhémar had been their oldest brother, the king, and an idiot. Their parents had been Desdhemar the Fair and Devious and Anghmar. Chagailt is a fairytale palace and the former seat of government in Neroche. Its gardens had been designed by Iolaire the Fair, a past queen of Neroche and daughter of Proìseil the Proud, a former king of Ainneamh. Sgoilear is the keeper of the king’s private books.

Ceana is the master spinner at Tor Neroche (the current seat of government and where Miach and Morgan live), and she takes Aisling in hand to teach her. Feòcallan is special researcher to the king. Thomas is a page. Luath is one of the shapechanging horses gifted to Miach and Morgan in Princess of the Sword, 3.

Tòrr Dòrainn is…
…an elvish kingdom ruled by Sìle, Rùnach’s maternal grandfather from his palace, Seanagarra. (He holds a seat on the Council of Kings.) Brèagha is his wife. Sarait was his youngest daughter who had married the evil Gair and was later murdered by him. Sosar is Sìle’s youngest son, and his magic was taken in Princess of the Sword, 3. Laìdir is Rùnach’s uncle, the crown prince.

Ainneamh is…
…an elven kingdom. Lake Cladach is home to an elven prince, Sgath of Ainneamh, Rùnach’s paternal grandfather and Gair’s father. Eulasaid, the granddaughter of the wizardess Nimheil, is his grandmother.

Bruadair has…
…a bad reputation in the Nine Kingdoms. No one ever leaves, for to cross the border without leave is to die. Nor is just anyone allowed in to this country of dreamweavers. Beul is one of its cities. Sglaimir seems to be the usurping king. Muinear is the Mistress of Weaving. Athair and his lovely dreamweaver bride, Sorcha, are Aisling’s real parents. Frèam is Bruadair’s ousted king.

Istaur is…
…a port city where Captain Burke is found and where Paien of Allerdale does a good deed.

Buidseachd, Beinn òrain, is…
…a mages school built on a spring of magic. It’s also where Rùnach has been in hiding since his father tried to open the well, as servant to Soilléir of Cothromaiche, a master mage of essence changing.

Gobhann is…
…a magic sink of a keep where Scrymgeour Weger is a master swordsman who runs a school. To earn his mark is to be the best. Odo is his gatekeeper. Paul is the novices’ mentor. Losh Harding (his uncle is the Harding) is a student. Baldric is the poisonous cook. Lothar of Wychweald, an evil, black mage and the son of Yngerame, is being held prisoner here; he also holds some of Sosar’s power.

Angesand is…
Lord Hearn‘s estate where he breeds highly regarded horses. Tùr is the youngest of Hearn’s five sons and has an unparalleled passion for breeding.

Lismòr is…
…a university and an orphanage created by Nicholas, the former wizard king of Diarmailt and Rùnach’s uncle, in honor of his murdered wife and Sarait’s sister, Lismòrian. William is Nicholas’ page. Master Dominicus is the crotchety librarian.

Diarmailt is…
…now but a duchy ruled by Simeon, Nicholas’ nephew, absorbed into Wychweald under King Stefan, Miach’s cousin. The city of Eòlas had been a seat of great learning and has an immense library.

Ceangail is…
…the land where Gair ruled at Aingidheachd, a.k.a., Doibhail. The keep has been destroyed and Rùnach’s bastard brothers have sought refuge with their mother, the witchwoman of Fàs. Díolain is the powerful eldest. Gàrlach is the sixth brother. Acair is the seventh, final, and youngest bastard and dangerous.

Magic in the Nine Kingdoms includes Croxteth; Fadaire, a beautiful elven magic; and, Camanaë, which is one of caring, found by Friona.

The Cover and Title

The cover presents a snowy scene in blues and white. There are snow-topped mountains in the background with a light brown stone castle on the left, surrounded by evergreen trees. In the foreground is Aisling in profile, her long blonde hair blowing in the breeze, a pale golden satin gown scalloped in a rusty brown with a purple figured band tied at her side. A white shawl flutters behind her, as Aisling sights along her bow. At the very top is an info blurb in white with a purplish shadow. The author’s name is below this but above Aisling’s head in a blue-shadowed yellow. The title spans Aisling’s lower legs in a pale blue shadowed in blue with the series info immediately beneath it in the same colors.

The title is all about Aisling, for she’s a Dreamspinner.

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2 responses to “Book Review: Dreamspinner by Lynn Kurland

    • Yeah, I’m getting a little worried about future stories in Kurland’s Nine Kingdoms. Are they gonna be as disappointing?? ‘Cause I really do wanna know what the end game is.

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