Book Review Shining Ones: Legend of the Sidhe

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Elizabeth Horton-Newton for Book Review Room

I was immediately attracted to Shining Ones: Legend of the Sidhe because it is a fantasy that centers around Irish legends and myths. From the first pages where the author, Sanna Hines, provides maps of Ireland and a pronunciation guide for character names I knew I was in for a challenge.

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Beginning in Keshcorran, Ireland with the introduction of Bres the Beautiful and Cliodhna of the Fair Hair the flavor of the story is set. This is ancient Ireland, the Ireland of myths and faeries, of “wee folk” and little people. But the legendary folk are neither small nor are they fairy like in appearance. There are no silvery transparent wings on these magical characters. In fact, they aren’t fluttering around; the couple drives to a cave where Cliodhna begins to sing. Yes, they drive, in a car. Here is where Hines weaves magical and practical together in a tidy package. This is the catalyst that sets the tale in motion. There can be no question the story will draw the reader into a mythical world where past meets present and adventure ensues. Even the quick transition to New Hampshire and the introduction of one of the primary female protagonists, Tessa Holly, is not jarring but neatly handled. Hines lets the reader know this book is about an Irish clan of beings who have lived for hundreds of years and are able to travel distances in the human world as well as to an “Otherworld”.

Tessa immediately fascinated me because her human persona is a police woman in Salem, New Hampshire. Although in reality she is a small woman, she is also a shapeshifter and able to change her appearance as needed. Mind you, I’m not talking about a shapeshifter like a werewolf suddenly appearing lupine and scurrying about on all fours hunting for humans to chew on. Tessa can make herself look like anyone. She can change her appearance so she is taller, broader, and almost anything required to perform the needed activity. Drawn into the sudden disappearance of her nephew Cory’s girlfriend Lia, Tessa drives furiously across the state. Lia entered a cave in New Hampshire when she heard mysterious singing. It’s obvious Lia has been lured away by the singing of Cliodhna far across the ocean.

It’s here that the author introduces Sam McHugh a/k/a Aidan Orbsen, the father of the missing Lia. While at first Tessa is annoyed by this attractive man there is the suggestion this could change over time. Although Tessa considers him a “conceited ass” she refers to his face as “perfect”. More interesting is the fact that Tessa recognizes Sam as a rich man’s son who had been accused of murdering his wife. This causes Tessa to wonder about Lia’s sudden disappearance and whether the man might have had a hand in it. It isn’t long before Tessa realizes there is much more going on here than is apparent at first glance. Ordinary humans should not be able to travel through these hidden portals. Be that as it may, Tessa learns her nephew has also disappeared and she dashes into the cave where she also disappears, leaving a puzzled Sam behind.

Once again Hines joins modern technology with magical transportation. Cory has taken Sam McHugh’s satellite phone and it conveniently has GPS. When he contacts McHugh both are shocked to find Cory has followed Lia to Ireland. Soon the boy is joined by his Aunt Tessa and together they leave the cave and follow the glow of a flashlight until they encounter a scarred woman who identifies herself as Brigid. She doesn’t seem very surprised to find these strangers wandering the hills at night. Soon it will become evident that she is more than a middle aged woman wandering in the dark.

Thus begins the adventure that will draw a hefty group of characters into a fantasy adventure that spans worlds and generations. Hines has created a fascinating landscape but it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the characters. Some have more than one name or identity. Coupled with the unusual names and pronunciations this often slowed down my reading. In spite of this the author is able to connect the diverse groups of people using time and magic to show their relationships. Other than the sometimes confusing name changes the story flowed well, taking the characters through the challenges of locating a variety of magical items that would assist in recovering the kidnapped Lia.

While her father and boyfriend search for Lia, accompanied by Tessa and members of her family, the girl is held captive on a yacht off the coast of Ireland. Surprises await her as she learns she has a special power and is not just the girl next door. The cast of characters on the yacht are Formorians, enemies of the Clan of Danu (Tuatha dè Danaan), and they need Lia to complete a ritual that will change their lives.

The conclusion of the book did leave me feeling vaguely lost and I wonder if there is a sequel in the future. Although the conflict between the Danu and the Formorians seems to be resolved there is a hint of more to come. I would love to find out what happens to Lia and Cory, Tessa and Sam, and the other characters who have survived.

There’s plenty of action, mystery, and romance in this book to satisfy any reader. Integrating the modern world with the magical world of ancient Ireland is a task Hines handles with skill. A well written if somewhat complex fantasy, it is a solid tale that I am pleased to recommend.

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Book Blurb

Cop-shapeshifter Tessa Holly won’t ever grow old. Descended from Ireland’s fairy race, the Tuatha dé Danann (Clan of Danu), she’ll enjoy long life and spectacular abilities. This legacy comes with a price: Her life will never be her own. Tessa’s Clan will choose her friends, career and husband. But when her brother and a human girl fall prey to enemy Formorians bent on stealing Danann longevity, the Clan goes silent. To rescue the captives, Tessa must rely on a man no one trusts as her guide through cairns, castles and cathedrals in search of her people’s greatest treasures. Along the way, she discovers a power greater than any she’s known. If she uses it during the final, crucial battle with Formorians, will she save—or destroy—her people?


 

Author Bio

Sanna Hines is fascinated with the question, “What IF?” What if I were in danger? Would I face it with bravery and resourcefulness–or give in to fear? What if I could live forever, but my loved ones could not? What if I had wings? Or lived in a town where creatures outnumbered humans? What lies waiting to be discovered behind the veil of ordinary existence?

Journalism, art history and business studies led Sanna to a career in marketing communications. In 2004, she turned to fiction. Her first two books were published in 2015. But, as Amazon pages say, there’s “more on the way.”


 

Amazon Author Page

Author Facebook Page

Sanna Hines Worlds – Author Webpage


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What does “Shining Ones” mean?

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“Riders of the Sidhe” by John Duncan

The first Irish fairies were not small and winged, but tall, ageless and sometimes radiant. They were the Tuatha dé Danann (Clan of Danu), who possessed more-than-human abilities.

In Ireland, they encountered fierce, seafaring raiders called Formorians, also people with extraordinary talents but normal lifespans. The two groups clashed.

The TDD eventually defeated the Formorians, but were, themselves, vanquished by incoming Celts. Banished to the hills, the TDD gained the name People of the Hills (Daione Sidhe), which was shortened to Sidhe (pronounced Shee). The Sidhe fought against Viking with mortals at the Battle of Clontarf, 1014 C.E.

In later years, not everyone felt comfortable naming them. Just as characters in the Harry Potter series called Voldemort “You-Know-Who” or He-Who-MustNot-Be-Named, the Irish referred to these powerful beings as “Shining Ones”, “Gentry” or “Fair Folk.” Fair folk is the source of the word “fairy.”

Shining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe explains what the ever-living ones and their descendants are doing today. And who knows? If you’re Irish, you might be part-Shining One, too. http://tinyurl.com/pqd2bnl

 

 

Multifaceted Brigid

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…and Brigit, that was a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for her sway was very great and very noble. And she was a woman of healing along with that, and a woman of smith’s work, and it was she first made the whistle for calling one to another through the night.—Lady Gregory, Gods and Fighting Men, 1904

The Tuatha dé Danann arrived in Ireland without their goddess-mother, Danu. Danu does not appear in the annals as a living presence. The role of feminine divine fell to her granddaughter, Brigid, who became so popular with the Irish that they would not convert to Christianity and leave her behind. All that Goddess Brigid had been, Saint Brighid (c. 451–525 CE) became.

Danann Brigid suffered through an unhappy, political marriage as well as the betrayal and death of her son. She was a healer, metalworker, inventor and warrior. She controlled fire. Goddess Brigid protected mothers and infants, inspired poets, and demonstrated her presence through both fire (Brigid’s Flame) and water (Brigid’s Well). Both well and flame are visible today, despite attempts by the Church and by Henry VIII to quench the flame.

…in 1220 AD, a Bishop disagreed with policy of non-admittance of men to the Abbey of Saint Brigid of Kildare. The Arch-bishop of Dublin, Henry of London, insisted that as nuns were subordinate to priests they must open the abbey to inspection by a priest. They refused and requested the inspections be carried out by a female official such as another Abbess. The Bishop was not impressed with this show of disobedience and decreed that the keeping of the eternal flame was a Pagan custom and consequently demanded that the sacred flame to be extinguished. The flame was thought to have been briefly extinguished but was quickly relit by the local people and the Eternal flame survived up to the suppression of the monasteries in the sixteenth century. It was at this time that King Henry VIII demanded the destruction of many monasteries and the Eternal flame was extinguished but never forgotten.–Clas Merdin blog

St. Brighid, true to her namesake, was no ordinary nun. Ordained as a bishop despite her gender, she founded monasteries, a school for art, and managed the eternal flame of Goddess Brigid (converted to a Christian symbol). Stories of the saint’s life echo the goddess’ actions: generosity, healing, care of mothers and children, inspiration of poets and artists, and metal working.

St. Brighid’s day, February 1st, is the festival called Candlemas or Lady Day. Brigid’s festival, Imbolc, is held on February 2nd. It celebrates the return of life after winter.

Sources:

Lady Augusta Gregory Gods and Fighting Men The story of the Tuatha de Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland, arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Ireland-arranged-English-Gregory-ebook/dp/B006W12KRM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454102322&sr=1-1&keywords=Lady+gregory+gods

Clas Merdin blog http://clasmerdin.blogspot.com/2014/02/brigids-eternal-flame.html

Art: Joanna Powell Colbert  http://www.gaiansoul.com/shop/art-prints/print-brigid-at-the-forge/

 

 

 

Another World

Tory Island–Balor’s Base

Scota gazed at rocky, treeless Tory Island, feeling a sense of homecoming as the launch made its way from the yacht Thoraígh to the island’s pier. Atop the fierce island cliffs, the great Balor’s fortress once stood. Her ancestors came back to the island after the defeat at Mag Tuired, vowing vengeance on Dananns forever. Scota would continue their mission.

—Excerpt from Shining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe

For a beautiful view of the island and the story of Lugh’s birth, enjoy this video:

Tales of the Formorians, Tory Island

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5Ldq…

Another World

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Who were the Formorians?

In my novel, Shining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe, Formorians are the bad guys. They’re used to this role: they’ve been the villains of Irish mythology for thousands of years.

Fierce, seafaring people from the North (most likely Scandinavians), they were pirates and warlords who demanded tribute of food and slaves. In the Irish annals, they’re monstrous and grotesque, with body parts in all the wrong places (lips on breasts, eyes on backs, mouths in stomachs). Scottish legends describe them as giants.

It’s easy to imagine warriors maimed from battle and literally dressed to kill presenting a terrifying appearance, but how to account for the strange abilities they had? Balor, the war leader, was said to have a lethal, burning eye so large it took four men to open his eyelid. Balor’s wife, Cethlinn, exuded deadly venom. Formorians were more than fierce fighters; they had supernatural skills, as well.

When the Tuatha dé Danann first encountered Formorians in Ireland, they turned back to their four cities in Danu’s Land (Denmark) to rethink their plan of colonizing the island. Some Dananns must have remained because a future Danann king, Bres, was the son of a Danann woman and a Formorian leader named Elatha.

Elatha contradicts the image of ugly, misshapen Formorians. Seen landing his boat, he was so appealing to the Danann woman Eriu, she was smitten on the spot. Their brief encounter resulted in pregnancy and a bit of remorse on her part. To console her, Elatha gave her his ring, telling her to send his son to him when the boy grew to manhood. Elatha would acknowledge their child as his heir.

Fate had other plans for half-Formorian Bres, called “the beautiful.” In need of a king after their first battle on the island, the Dananns elected Bres. He was also wed to Brigid, daughter of the Dagda, Danann patriarch. These strategic moves, the Dananns hoped, would keep peace with Formorians.

The alliance didn’t work. Bres turned out to be a stingy king, violating the code of hospitality so important to Bronze Age peoples. He was deposed. Going to Elatha, whom he expected to help him fight his way back to kingship, Bres learned his father valued honor. Elatha told Bres he’d been a bad king and didn’t deserve the job.

Bres turned to other Formorian leaders for support. They agreed to fight the Dananns, and chose the plane near Moytura, Co. Sligo, for battle. The scene was set for the Second Battle of Mag Tuired.

 

Another World

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Ireland’s Tuatha dé Danann: Myth or History?

If you were an Irish school child before World War II, you’d have learned your history began with the Mythological Cycle, accounts written by medieval monks based on oral tradition going back at least two millennia. Though these texts were considered factual until the 1940s, later historians regarded them as fabulous tales suitable only for fireside storytelling.

One of the texts, the Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Takings of Ireland, also known as The Book of Invasions) dates from the middle of the Twelfth Century (around 1150 C.E.). According to the LGE, five groups entered Ireland before the arrival of the “Milesians” (Celtic Gaels, ancestors of the modern Irish).

The first three groups died out or left the island, while the fourth, called Fir Bolgs, stayed to meet the fifth wave, the Tuatha dé Danann (Clan of Danu). Described as tall, fair haired and beautiful, Dananns possessed more than mortal abilities. Shapeshifting, great strength, resurrection of the dead, magical metalworking, and spellcasting were some of their more remarkable skills. Above all, they never grew old.

After battling the Fir Bolgs for territory, the Dananns settled into a peaceful life until fierce Nordic raiders called Formorians demanded tribute and slaves from them, as they had from earlier peoples. To pacify the Formorians, the Dananns elected Bres, a man with both Formorian and Danann parents, to be their king.

Their strategy failed when Bres proved to be a stingy, selfish king. After he was deposed, he went to the Formorians seeking allies to force the Dananns out of Ireland; instead, Dananns defeated Formorians at the Second Battle of Mag Tuired. Later, incoming Celts expelled the Dananns to an underground world. Now called People of the Hills (Daoine Sidhe) or simply, Sidhe, Dananns were said to return to Ireland at will throughout the centuries. In 1014, they joined mortals in the fighting Danes at the Battle of Contarf near Dublin according W.Y. Evans-Wentz in his book, The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries (1911).

Hard to believe?

Imagine if the Bible’s New Testament books were transmitted from elder to youth in the same way—seven hundred generations of retelling—before being set down in writing in the year 2000. How much would be lost? How much added? Would dubious scholars, disturbed by accounts of miracles, dismiss all as fantasy?

In my book, Shining Ones, I take the Tuatha dé Danann into the modern world. As one Danann descendant puts it,

Our history became legend, legend turned to fairytale until no believed we ever existed.

And that is just as we wish it to be.