THE DRUID'S GIFT by Margaret Anderson


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The tiny, remote St. Kilda islands off the northwest coast of Scotland are the setting for a time fantasy that deftly outlines 1000 years of history there. Caitlin is one of a dark, primitive folk who eke out a rough living catching sea birds during the summer and pay grudging tribute to the feared druids who share their island. Red hair, a quick imagination, and unusual courage mark her as different, though, and ultimately she proves to be part druid. An invitation to "leap the Beltane Fire" (be promised in marriage) precipitates her first visit to the future, when Vikings are settling the island; she makes two more visits to other times, the last in the 19th century. Each time, Caitlin slips easily into a new, established identity; each time, much is the same: the islanders depend on the birds; Caitlin is closely linked to a wise old woman and to a young man (she will marry the Viking; she shares the blind boy's tragic end); the druids are paralleled by a strict Presbyterian minister; and always, there is yearning for story, for continuity, and for peaceful coexistence and understanding among the island's peoples. Anderson skillfully weaves the many threads of her complex plot--e.g., the arrival of Brendan the Navigator precipitates both climax and resolution, while his beliefs endure as a powerful moral force through the ages. An engrossing historical novel as well as a satisfying fantasy.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1989
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Knopf
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