The Seventh Swan: A moving story

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Nicholas Stuart Gray The Seventh SwanThe Seventh Swan by Nicholas Stuart Gray

I had a hard time getting into The Seventh Swan at first; I think Nicholas Stuart Gray‘s writing style was the culprit. He jumps between points-of-view constantly, so it’s hard to tell who’s thinking what. After I got used to that, though, I found The Seventh Swan moving.

Alasdair is the seventh swan-brother from the famous fairy tale, left with a swan’s wing instead of one of his arms because his sister was unable to finish that last shirt in time. He is a young Scottish lord in this novel, incredibly handsome but shrouded in self-pity and the immaturity that comes from having such a strange “childhood.” Since he lacks his sword-arm, he has a bodyguard, Ewen, a gruff mercenary who is both more kind and more haunted than he seems.

Alasdair also has a sweetheart, Fenella, who finds out about what ails him. Being an intrepid young lady, Fenella sets out immediately to find the magic to give him back his arm. But dangers await, and many unwise decisions are made by various characters, and misadventures ensue. Along the way, we come to care for all of the characters. Although I would have preferred a different ending to the story, The Seventh Swan is worth reading if you’ve ever wondered what happened to that fellow with a wing for an arm. (Juliet Marillier’s SEVENWATERS series delves into this aspect of the tale, too, and I recommend it highly.)

The Seventh Swan — (1962) Young adult. Publisher: When a beautiful young Scottish woman learns the story of how the young man with whom she has been dancing came to have a swan’s wing for a right arm, she determines to learn sorcery and to enlist the aid of his mercenary soldier, and free him from the spell.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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