Posted by: Nyxks | February 7, 2008

Priestess of the Forest

Priestess of the Forest
by Ellen Evert Hopman © 2008
Llewellyn
EAN 978-0-7387-1262-8
408 pages Includes Glossary
$18.95 (U.S.) $21.95 (Canada)
Reviewed by: Mike Gleason

There have been numerous Pagan-themed novels in the past decade, but not many written primarily about Druids, by someone familiar with Druidic philosophy. The author did one thing I really appreciated – she put the glossary and short character identifications in the front of the book where they can make an impression BEFORE you begin reading the story.

This is more than a compelling, easy to read story. Ms. Hopman has scattered throughout it Druidic practices she has learned during her decades as a member of a modern Druidic order in the United States. She has a feel for the lives and existence of the Pagan people of Celtic lands at a time of great turmoil and transition – the time of the invasion of Christianity into the British Isles.

There are rituals and invocation; beliefs and lore; and attitudes which have the ring of authenticity about them. Are they true representations of Druidic life and thought at this time in history? No one can know for sure, due to the lack of primary sources available, but I suspect that if they aren’t they are close.

The story is believable, even if the conclusion is a foregone certainty. The only questions which remains unanswered until the end is WHO will be left alive to endure the inexorable changes.

There are some unexpectedly sympathetic characters (Father Per comes to mind), and some unexpected betrayals. There are also sterling examples of the type of behavior expected from a Druid (or any Pagan priest/ess, for that matter).

I can (and do) recommend this book, which serves as both an entertaining novel and an introductory work on Druidic beliefs, to everyone. If all you want is a good story, you will find that. If you are looking for information on Druidic beliefs (as espoused by the Celtic Reconstructionist movement), you will find that as well. The important thing is to find this book and bring it home.

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