Book Review | Year One by Nora Roberts

A look at the plot

Year One by Nora Roberts failed to grab me at first. Looking back, one of my main challenges was the background knowledge needed.  Especially knowledge of Celtic mythologies and traditions as they play a major part in setting up the story.  Another challenge was the large cast of character you meet immediately and must keep up with.  When you add to that switches in time from past to present and back again, it is easy to get lost.  But, if you push through, you will be happy that you did.  I couldn’t put it down after the first chapter! It is a compelling story of man’s inhumanity to man at its worst, with a mix of magic to add to the many different dimensions of the theme.

Two brothers, a cousin, and their families spend every Christmas at the family’s ancestral home in Scotland.  In span of 40-50 years, mostly through happenstance, they manage to unlock an evil so horrendous that it is later called the Doom and kills over 5 billion people around the world.  Governments collapse, infrastructures fail, and many discover magical powers laid latent for generations.

One year ago, today, the fabric ripped, the scales tipped when the blood of the damned defiled the holy ground.  So the purge followed, and Magic strikes back. – Mallick

Looking deeper into the story

Survivors, magical and nonmagical, must decide between good and evil, dark and light.  Much as with the classic Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Year One is at times deeply disturbing, forcing you to contemplate the inhumanity of people and the choices they make to survive.  Some men and women with magic turn to black magic and some men and women without magic turn to the bigotry and fear reminiscent of Salem Massachusetts centuries ago.  Rape and murder run rampant in the lawless world showing that man is not yet able to control their inhuman urges without the help of rules, laws, and the people to enforce those laws.

Man’s inhumanity is explored further as the novel progresses.  As in the real world, most people are good and work to help each other.  But there is always those few who instead embrace their darker urges and threaten to destroy humanity.  What would be left if dark wins?  Who would the dark fight if they manage to snuff out the light?  Contemplating these concepts is hard.  The light must win because the light is hope.  And, sometimes hope is all that is left to see us through.  In this book, hope lives and it rests with a savior – a daughter of the Tuatha De Danann.

Final thoughts

In the novel, we follow 11 people on their journey of self-discovery and survival. Lana is carrying The One in her womb.  A savior, we later discover, that is a daughter of the Tuatha de Danann, ancient rulers of Ireland that were more advanced than the people they ruled – possibly magical maybe alien.  All 11 fight to get out of New York.  All 11 eventually end up in a town called New Hope, Virginia.   And each has a harrowing journey as they fight for survival.  Will New Hope be the new hope that they seek, or will evil prevail?

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