This is a melancholy short story about a mother’s struggle to protect her son from a corrupt king. The writing is rough in places, but still the life presented is a rich portrayal of a poor woman in medieval times.
Like Minstrel, which comes before this story, Darrion is set in Tir Athair, a medieval monarchy based on European history. Unlike Minstrel, Darrion introduces a new element into the world: magic.
The story comes to us in a dual vision of a young girl chosen by a promising healer who falls in love and the older, soldier’s widow trying to hide her son’s talents from the king’s corrupt eye. It’s a sharp contrast, much like how the bluebells of her courting become fragile, dried flowers.
To add to their troubles, Lana is seriously ill and yet bringing her son into the presence of a healer would give everything away. Power calls to power, and despite her prayers, Darrion is full of it.
The story is powerful, evocative, and as I said from the start, melancholy. The description offers a full-featured view of life in those times while the powerlessness is seen more through Lana’s reactions and fears at first. As the story unfolds, though, you begin to see this is not her overactive imagination but rather a poor woman without friends or resources trying to do the impossible.