A woman alone in a man’s world of magic:
She saw her parents murdered when she was but a child. Rescued from the ruins of her family’s homestead by a teacher of the Divine Art, Mereddyd-a-Lagan swore to learn the powerful secrets necessary to track down the murderers and exact vengeance. But first she would have to overcome centuries of prejudice against female mages, and become the first ever female apprentice to the Meri—the otherworldly Being who stands between humanity and the Spirit of the Universe. But on the eve her quest for the Meri is to begin, Mereddyd learns that she is not the first woman in history to take the path to the Meri’s shore. …And that the one who went before her never returned.
In the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Cyne Colfre, a fifteen year-old girl named Mereddyd-a-Lagan sought to wield powers reserved, until now, for men. Would she attain the station of Osraed … or die a heretic like the one who went before her?
Book 1 of The Meri cycle finds the 15 year old Meredydd as the only female “prentice” in a male dominated religious Academy, learning to become a priest. Objections at her existence, which is starting to disrupt and distract the other students and teachers, forces the decision to make her pilgrimage to find The Meri earlier than many believe she’s ready.
There are definite allusions to both state religion and the fear of witches (Wicke) and the belief that whilst people can worship a female incarnation of Godhead, a woman cannot be a disciple/priest of the same.
Much of the book is dedicated to the pilgrimage, and how Meredydd faces the three challenges put to her in her dreams. Mere seems to “let go” of some things really easily – her friend Leal and the Wisdom crystal are released with nary a second thought which is a shame.
The result of the pilgrimage is almost predictable, but no worse for that, and ties in nicely with the overall philosophy of the story.