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Literature / Son of the Shadows

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The second book of The Sevenwaters Trilogy. Written by Juliet Marillier.

Set almost twenty years after Daughter of the Forest, the story centers on Liadan, the second daughter of Red and Sorcha. During a religious gathering, she begins to feel uneasy and has disturbing visions of the future. In the midst of trying to figure out what her sister is up to, why her friend Eamonn is courting her and how to keep her mother alive, she is abducted by a group of mercenaries. She is charged with healing a fallen member of their group under the watchful eye of their leader, the Painted Man. Despite constantly arguing and insulting each other, they come to depend on each other for help and comfort.


After she returns home, she finds the noose of an ancient prophesy tightening itself around her neck and that of her unborn child. She also discovers a sinister plot that threatens to destroy her family and friends. Liadan must walk a fine line between right and wrong to save those she holds dear. But it will not be easy. Loyalties will be tested, risks must be taken, and the prophesy looms large over her head.


This book contains examples of:

  • Arranged Marriage: Fionn and Niamh, although the reasons for it are varied.
  • Bad Dreams: Bran comes off as a very unpleasant man, making it difficult to sympathize with him in any light. Then Liadan gets a look inside his head and witnesses his nightmares for herself. Some of his dreams are extremely disturbing.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Sean and Liadan share a strong bond as twins. Niamh and Liadan are a Sister-Sister variation.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Liadan speaks to Bran to bring him back from the dead.
    • She also talks to her unborn child frequently.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Want to know why the Painted Man acts the way he does?
    • The rest of his crew is made of this trope. Each of them had no future until Bran pulled them out of their funk and made them a part of his team.
  • Distressed Damsel: Niamh. It’s minor before her abusive marriage to Fionn, but afterwards she becomes incapable of helping herself. Only Liadan’s planning and persistence save her from going back to Fionn.
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  • Face–Heel Turn: Eamonn seemed like a pretty decent guy until he didn't get what he wanted. Everything went downhill steadily until he decided to try his hand at torture. His villainy is pretty much established by then.
  • Freudian Excuse: Bran has some serious Mommy Issues.
  • I Am Who?: Poor Ciaran doesn’t find out who he really is until he tries to marry Niamh. Cue the following trope…
  • Incest Is Relative: Ciaran and Niamh’s relationship after her family drops the bomb on him.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Eamonn tries to put this guilt trip on Liadan, saying that her refusal to marry him is what turned him into an evil wanker.
    "If you had accepted me, my path would have been different…. If you dislike what I have become, you have only yourself to blame."
  • May–December Romance: Seamus Redbeard and his teenage wife. Niamh is not amused.
  • Now, Let Me Carry You: In return for rescuing him when he was at his lowest, Gull carries Bran across the marsh to safety despite being tortured mercilessly just hours before their escape.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Since he's a "tough guy", Bran says it without the "please."
  • Rebel Leader: The Painted Man, also known as Bran.
  • Scary Black Man: Gull is the only dark skinned man in the group, he’s huge and his hands are incredibly disfigured. He gives Liadan and Niamh a fright when they first see him.
  • Screw Destiny: Liadan defies the Fair Folk to their faces and takes her son away from the forest, essentially taking him out of the prophesy.
  • Secret Relationship: Both Niamh and Liadan keep their relationships secret from their families to try and protect themselves and their men. It doesn’t end well for either of them.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Bran. Okay, he wasn't related to the abusive adoptive father, but coming from a seven-year-old this is still disturbing.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Aisling was Sean’s childhood friend. It’s amazing what hormones can do to a friendship.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Liadan falls in love with the leader of the mercenaries who kidnap her. The reverse is also true, with apparently the entire crew experiencing Lima Syndrome.
  • Team Mom: Liadan to the mercenary group after her capture. Her status increases to Action Mom after she fights her way through Sidhe Dubh with her son strapped to her back.
  • The Consigliere: The mercenaries behind the Painted Man. They aren’t afraid to point out when he’s being reckless or stupid. They acknowledge that he is the leader and his word is final, but they do share their opinions when they deem it necessary.
  • Treachery Cover Up: Liadan promises to remain silent about Eamonn's involvement in several important deaths to protect her family and their alliance with his family.
  • Twin Telepathy: Liadan and Sean can communicate through their minds.
  • You Are Not Alone: Liadan and the mercenaries all say this to Bran to try and bring him back from near death.


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