The Song of Seare trilogy follows a young man named Conor Mac Nir and his journey to overcome the evil threatening his world, and, on a more personal level, Conor’s journey as a man.
In the first book in the trilogy, The Oath of the Brotherhood, we meet Conor Mac Nir, a puny, scholarly boy who has powerful gifts as a musician. Conor does not really seem to fit in anywhere. When Conor’s foster father dies, Conor fakes his own death to cover his trail and joins the Firein, a group of monk-like “brothers” – the difference being that the otherwise monastic brotherhood are trained in the fighting arts as well as spiritual disciplines.
But Conor soon grows restless and wants to leave the brotherhood to do something about the darkness that has begun to threaten the outside world.
Finally, Conor leaves Ard Dhaimin, to join Calhoun Mac Cuilinn’s army. Calhoun is the older half-brother of Aine, a beautiful young girl Conor fell in love with in the short time he stayed with her family before joining the brotherhood.
Aine, in Conor’s absence, has developed her own unique gifts and has gained renown for her incredible healing abilities. When Aine is kidnapped, Conor risks everything to save her and the two are reunited and married aboard a ship that they hope will carry them to a new life.
This first book really sets the stage nicely for the other two books to come. It’s a little slow in the beginning but interest really soars when Conor joins the brotherhood and really becomes a hero worth cheering for.
I have to say, when a character is described as puny, it kind of gives you a mental picture of that character that is irreversible, even if the we are told that the character really beefs up later on in the story (which, of course, they always do, because where’s the attraction in a guy who does not have bulging biceps and a perfect six pack?). Fortunately for Laureano, this is not the case with Conor; his progression from wimpy boy to muscular man is slow enough and convincing enough that your not permanently stuck thinking of Conor as that toothpick-limbed guy we envision when we were first introduced to him.
In the second book in The Song of Seare Trilogy, Beneath the Forsaken City, Conor and Aine have been separated in a storm at sea and now must pursue separate journeys.
Conor is made a slave but is set free and escapes with one of his fellow captives, Prince Talfryn, there under cover to save Conor. As his honored guest, Conor remains with Talfryn while he awaits news of Aine.
But while there he comes up against unforeseen obstacles – things are not what they seem within the kingdom. Briallu, the only daughter of his friend, holds a strange attraction for Conor that he struggles to resist.
Aine makes her way to her native land, where her aunt is currently in power and magic of all kinds – such as Aine now wields with more power than ever – is held in extreme suspicion. While some welcome Aine back, or grow to love her, her aunt’s veiled dislike of her serves to make her even more lonely and distraught. Aine struggles desperately against doubt and confusion, and is bewildered when attempts on her life become disturbingly frequent and there seem to be veiled threats on every side. Aine no longer knows who she can trust.
Both of their paths eventually lead them both back to Seare, however, and Aine and Conor are finally reunited once more.
Beneath the Forsaken City builds well on the first book. Separating Conor and Aine the way she does is a masterful move on Laureano’s part – it allows readers a chance to get to know them as individuals, apart from one another, something we got to do in Oath of the Brotherhood with Conor, obviously, but not as much with Aine, and since her role is only increasing, it’s important that we really get behind Aine. This is the closest thing to a flaw that I foresee for this trilogy. That we won’t ever get to know Aine enough to ever like her. Honestly, when we first met her back in Oath of the Brotherhood, she never appealed to me. I like her better in this book, but the connection between her and the reader is not as strong as it should be – something Laureano will have to remedy quickly if she wishes to redeem Aine.
That is the trouble with reserved, sweet characters. While the writer may just think of them as quiet or shy, or just kindhearted and compassionate, they come across to the reader as boring and dull, lacking life and personality. Such characters give us very little reason to get behind them, to laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry, because we don’t really know what would make them laugh or cry. They have remained so aloof and distant, hiding behind that facade of reserve or kindness, that We The Reader don’t really know them at all.
In the last book in the Song of Seare Trilogy, The Sword and the Song, Aine and Conor are reunited in Ard Dhaimin and the future is looking bright for them. The couple is expecting their first child, they are happy, and Ard Dhaimin has become a refuge for many fleeing the darkness and danger that has become rampant in Seare.
But it soons becomes apparent that everything is not as perfect as it seems. Eoghan, Conor’s closest friend, is the fulfillment of the prophecy, and as such, he should be taking leadership of the Firein. But Eoghan is hesitant to step up, which causes friction between Conor and him. Eoghan reached out to Conor when he first arrived friendless in Ard Dhaimin, Eoghan mentored and trained Conor until he became a better swordsman than Eoghan himself, Eoghan risked severe punishment to leave Ard Dhaimin and help Conor, saving his life, and Eoghan saved Aine’s life when she returned to Seare after struggling with doubt and defeat in her homeland. So the bond between the two men is still strong… but it’s strength is being tested. Especially as it becomes more and more obvious to everyone, Conor, Aine, and Eoghan himself, that Eoghan is falling for Aine – the pregnant wife of his best friend.
Conor has thought of a way to protect Seare and fight back against the Red Druid, Diarmuid – but it requires leaving Ard Dhaimin.
He gets back in plenty of time to witness the birth of his child – but almost as soon as he returns, he has to leave again.
On an even longer journey this time.
Conor’s mission is almost complete when Diarmuid attacks Ard Dhaimin. His goal is to kidnap Aine’s soon-to-be born, specially gifted child. Because of Aine’s growing powers, she is able to communicate mentally with Conor – but he is experiencing difficulty as well: he has been badly wounded, and help cannot reach him. In an unexpected twist, Conor’s foster sister who has been living in Ard Dhaimin, once a confederate of Diarmuid, turns on him suddenly, killing him. But it is too late for Conor.
With his last words, he names the son he wanted to desperately to witness the birth of, the son he so desperately wanted to be a good father to, the son he will now never meet… his son is born only minutes later.
Wow. I did not even see this ending coming.
It is superb. I was so close to tears.
I’ve read a lot of books, a lot of endings, a lot of good endings, even. But I don’t know that I’ve ever read an ending quite like this one. It is unique and so oddly moving.
I think because it really is very surprising. Conor is so very afraid that if he dies, Aine and Eoghan will be together and forget him, that you never think that that will actually happen! You just assume that because they want it so much, because Conor and Aine deserve it so much after all they have been through, all the separation and pain and doubting each other and not knowing if the other is even alive, and feeling unworthy of the other’s love, you just naturally assume that they will get that happy ending… You want them to have that happy ending.
You want Conor so see his son. You want them to be able to be a family. And so it is really depressing when Conor dies when he is so close to achieving this dream.
This last book really highlights Conor’s strength as a character. He has become the hero. And that is something I find rather fascinating: Conor didn’t start out the hero that you were hoping for – he becomes that hero.
You really begin to see his depth in this last book, his brokenness and disappointment with himself, his frustration and anger as he starts to really snap and kind of lose his grip on sanity. (I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a completely sane hero anyway.)
Aine, though, actually regressed, in my opinion. She effectively loses all the ground she gained in the second book.
Overall, this last book was not only by far the best but was a great way to end the series; Laureano got better with each succeeding book.