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Dr. Susan Corso

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Elizabeth Cunningham's Red-Robed Priestess

Posted: 11/16/11 12:23 PM ET

Red-Robed Priestess is Maeve Rhuad's last adventure. And oh, what an adventure it is! As I'm sure you know, I've been a fan of Maeve Rhuad for a long, long time.

For those of you who don't know, Maeve Rhuad is Elizabeth Cunningham's delightfully irreverent holy whore, the Celtic Mary Magdalen. This book is the fourth in a tetralogy that takes the reader from Tir na mBan where Maeve is raised by eight warrior-witch mothers toMona (Anglesey) where she is banished beyond the Ninth Wave to meeting with her Beloved Esus to the daughter Sarah they have together and, of course (because this is how all Celtic stories are), back to Mona.

In the time it has taken Elizabeth Cunningham to be the vessel for this outrageous Maeve, I have both met Elizabeth and come to know her a bit. She is every bit as outré as Maeve if slightly quieter about it.

This is the story of Maeve's coming full circle; she returns to Britain to find the daughter the Druids ripped from her arms decades earlier. With her, among others, is her daughter with Esus, Sarah. On the eve of her return, connection/soul/karma makes Maeve risk an assignation with a Roman general, an enemy. That linking is the scaffolding of the story. The two revolve around one another much like two suns.

The morning after ... he captures Maeve and her party, and he asks her, his enemy, to see for him. What she sees would freeze champagne. They both go forward in their destinies; Maeve, to Avalon; the general to create the infrastructure that will let him win the dreadful battle Maeve has foreseen.

Maeve's welcome at Avalon is far from guaranteed. In fact, there is some question as to whether she will be allowed to return or be jailed for her ancient infraction. Rather than tell you how it goes down, I will leave that to Maeve herself. What I can say is that Maeve and her daughter have work to do on Avalon, and they, despite any discomfort, remain to do it. They find Maeve's long-lost daughter, and through that tenuous reunion, Maeve acquires the acquaintance of the next generation -- two granddaughters.

And then comes their father's death, the enforcement of a contract, and...

Many years ago on Beliefnet.com, I wrote that if I were going to write a book on Mary Mags, as we call her in my house, I would want to have written these books. As a fan, and later friend, I have taken this journey whole-heartedly with this author. That's how all readers feel about authors who write series that we love.

Elizabeth Cunningham is a masterful storyteller. I christen her a National Treasure, just as elders are so named in the East. Her spin on Mary Magdalene over twenty years' time is a low rumble of truly amused laughter, a hot cup of cocoa on a cold day, a series of books to read again and again. I knew when I started this book that I wouldn't want it to end, and I was right. I let myself have one or two chapters a day to make it last longer.

Elizabeth wrote in Red-Robed Priestess, "It is strange to know when a goodbye is final. It is a gift." This is a final goodbye to Maeve Rhuad, and oh what a gift to know that I can go to my shelves any time I like where all four books sit just waiting for me to start life with Maeve and her Esus all over again.

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