Welcome to a world where dreams are true foreseeings, where crows speak, and spells can cripple a man, a world in which warrior women are as likely to meet a man sword to sword as body to body, a world in which men and women discover that love is the most powerful magic of all.
Excerpts from IRISH MAGIC
and IRISH MAGIC II
Four Novellas including RARER THAN A WHITE CROW by Roberta Gellis
Kensington Books, trade 1995, mass market, 1996
Angus Óg is the god of love and he takes his duties seriously, giving comfort to any woman who needs to be assured that she is worthy of tender caring--but he is bound to none, until the Morrigan sets a geis on him. The last thing that Cáer the warrior woman wants is a man's love; however, by her mother's promise she is fated to bear a daughter for some purpose of the goddess of war, the Morrigan. And one day, the Morrigan tells her that the father of her daughter will be Angus Óg. Cáer retorts that she has never used the spell the Morrigan had given her mother, that she does not need it, and she certainly will have nothing to do with Angus Óg.
Exerpt from RARER THAN A WHITE CROW
"Morrigan," he said, "I know you. Old Crow, you cannot beguile me by drawing on the seeming of a lovely body. You did not come to me for love. A woman of war who truly desires love from a man is rarer than a white crow. Now, what do you want of me? Show me the truth."
Her red lips drew back from her teeth. "You need to be shown the truth, indeed, for a man who scorns honest lust is a fool! The truth?" Her head turned over her shoulder, impossibly far, the way a bird's head turns. "Look there," she cried.
Shocked by the inhuman twist of the Morrigan's neck, Angus obeyed involuntarily, his eyes following the line hers had taken to the water of the pond. His breath drew in and his grip on her wrists tightened. A woman was looking back at him from the quiet water--not the Morrigan. He could not say the face was beautiful; it was too strong, too austere for beauty, but he knew he would never forget it. Gold-brown hair in thick plaits was coiled atop her head, and gold-brown eyes stared back at him from under thick straight brows. The lips were full but firmly held, the chin strong under cheeks that were slightly hollowed by high cheekbones. The Morrigan's cackle filled his ears, but Angus was caught by the level gaze of the gold-brown eyes.
"That is the truth!" The Morrigan's voice was now more like the caw of a crow than human speech. "I set this geis upon you, Angus Óg. Seek love there! You will love that woman and no other all the days of her life, and you will find no peace, ever, until you win her, Milesian though she is, for your wife."
A pain as sharp as a spear pierced his chest. Angus gasped, but instead of releasing his hold on the Morrigan's wrists as he knew she expected, he gripped so hard, the bones ground together. The Morrigan cried out and the pain in his chest ended, but when it was gone Angus could still feel something, as if his heart was caught in a fisherman's net. It did not hurt or impede the beating, but Angus knew that if he did not fulfill the geis, those knotted threads, like a fisherman's net, would draw tighter and tighter until he could not breathe or move.
IRISH MAGIC II
Imagine a world where wishes have wings and dreams can come true, a world in which a single meeting of the eyes can bind a girl and a man in an indissoluble love.
Four Novellas, Including BRIDE PRICE by Roberta Gellis
Kensington Books -- Hardcover 1997; Mass Market, 1998; Trade, 1999
Findbhair of Cruachan is nine years old when Fraoch first sees her sitting in a little chair beside her mother's throne. Their eyes meet for barely a moment, but that is enough. Though Findbhair is of the native people and Fraoch is of the magical Tuatha de Danaan, their lives are welded together. Nonetheless, it is ten long years before Fraoch comes to claim her, and Findbhair has time enough to doubt his willingness to take her as his wife. When Fraoch realizes his mistake, he understands that no matter what bride price her unwilling parents place upon Findbhair, he must pay it--up to his very life.
Excerpt from BRIDE PRICE
She looked up, gasping with surprise. She had been so immersed in her thoughts that she had not heard the horse, walking softly in the dusty road. And then she still sat staring. She had forgotten how beautiful Fraoch was, with hair like coiled gold wires and eyes as bright a gray as sunlit ice, shaded by long lashes, enough darker than his hair to make the eyes as deep as a bottomless pool. His nose was straight, and a thin scar ran from his temple down his cheek to his jaw. The scar was no flaw; it only made his firm chin stronger and added manliness to a mouth that might have been as soft and pretty as a girl's.
"Findbhair? Do you not know me? I know you."
On the words he came down from his horse, just dropping the rein. The beast, which had been about to amble on, stopped and stood. Findbhair rose from the rock on which she had been seated, but she tore her eyes from his face and dropped her head.
"You mean you recognize me?" she murmured.
He laughed and put out a hand to lift her chin, then shook his head. "No, I do not. I know you only here--" he touched his heart "--and here--" he touched his temple. "I only saw you that once and ..." He blinked suddenly and shook his head. "You were a little child. How did you grow into a woman so fast?"
"So fast?" Findbhair echoed. "It has been ten years." Resentment pricked her as she remembered how long she had waited. "You were in no hurry to claim me. How much longer might I have waited if I had not 'called' to you?"
To her intense surprise, Fraoch paled. "I do not know," he whispered. Then he drew a long breath, smiled, and added cheerfully. "Thank the Lady Dana that you did 'call.' Do you not know that time runs differently for us of the Tuatha de Danaan, slower? We know the seasons, but we do not count them. To me it was only a few yesterdays since I saw you beside your mother's chair ..." His voice faded, then came back strongly. "Findbhair, what are you doing here in the road away from Cruachan? And why are there marks of tears on your cheeks?"
"I am banished from the dun," she said.