Partholon Series Books 4 and 5 Review
A continuation of the Partholon series, the two books, Elphame’s Choice and Brighid’s Quest come after what I call the Divine Trilogy (reviewed here). I separated these from the first three books of the series because although they are set in the same world, the story narrated in them is of a vastly different time – several decades apart, in fact.
The Partholon series, written by P.C. Cast, is a set of fantasy novels based on a blend of Greek and Celtic mythology (mostly Celtic). They are set in the mythical world of Partholon, home of Epona, the Celtic warrior goddess. The world has everything a fantasy and mythology lover could hope for – kind deities, badass priestesses, centaurs, magic, and, of course, powerful villains.
Elphame is the great-granddaughter of Shannon, the protagonist of the Divine trilogy. The two books follow her, Cuchulainn, her brother, and their gang (for the lack of better word) as they find adventure and love and, of course, themselves…
About the books:
Elphame’s Choice begins decades after the end of Divine by Blood, with the birth of Elphame, daughter of Etain, who is Shannon’s granddaughter. Only…Elphame is not what you’d call normal. With the upper body of a human and legs of a horse, she’s neither a centaur like her father nor an ordinary beloved of Epona like her mother. She’s different. Truly blessed by the goddess.
Worshipped and revered by all of Partholon but incredibly lonely, she finds her purpose in restoring the MacCallan Castle, where she hopes to build her new home. But then, the descendants of the evil Formorians (the villains of Divine by Mistake) threaten her newfound belonging. Are they good or evil like their forefathers? It falls on Elphame to investigate and…do something.
Brighid’s Quest follows the story of Elphame’s incorrigible brother Cuchulainn and her beloved centaur friend Brighid. At risk of revealing spoilers for the previous book, all I can say is that it involves more of the Formorian descendants and gives us a glimpse into centaur politics...
My take on the books:
As a unit, I liked these much more than the Divine trilogy (although of all these books, Divine by Mistake is still my favourite). Don’t get me wrong – these two books have their fair share of tragedy and sorrow and heartbreak. Elphame’s Choice will make you cry, and that sorrow will clutch at your heart for at least half of the last book.
But the story arcs of all the characters in these books are so painfully sweet that I just couldn’t help liking it, through all my tears.
I mentioned, in the earlier review, that P.C. Cast developed the characters of the Divine trilogy masterfully. In these two books, masterful doesn’t even begin to cover how she’s made sure that each character left an imprint on my heart. It is unparalleled; stupendous. Truly remarkable.
I had formed close friendships with the protagonists and the people around them. I grew to hate the antagonists while still feeling a pang of sadness for them because I could still empathise with their backstories. I laughed when the protagonists found happiness and cried tears of relief when some enemies found redemption.
These books sucked me into their magical, miraculous world, beckoning me to join in their thrilling adventures and exhilarating triumphs over their enemies.
The credit goes mostly to the character development, of course, because who wouldn’t want to be where her friends are? But that’s not the only thing, of course. Amazing characters are nothing without a good plot to guide them, and the plots of both these books were excellent as well.
I can’t sing enough praises for these books. I think I’ve re-read them (as eBooks) so many times that if I had physical copies of these books, they would be dog-eared messes by now. And I don’t read eBooks repeatedly unless they’re that good.
Read these books if:
You like fantasy or mythology (or both)!
You love redemption arcs
You like romance as a major theme in your fantasy books (rather than the adventure)
You’re okay with mildly dark and/or tragic themes
Don’t read if:
Fantasy is not your cup of tea
You hate a book in which characters you get attached to die (I did already say there will be death and it will break your heart)
Descriptions of blood and murder are triggering for you
Mildly graphic descriptions of violence and sex offend you
Hah. You already know my verdict. I fell madly, irrevocably in love with this series and its characters and the world. It made my heart soar and break and rage, and I loved every chaotic minute of it. I’d recommend it to absolutely everyone, but it does have violence and it’s very heartbreaking at places. So be warned: tragedy ahead.