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A fairy-tale infused historical novel for adults set in the late 18 th century, moving between Imperial China and France during the ‘Terror’ of the French Revolution, and inspired by the true story of a quest for a blood-red rose.

The novel will draw upon ‘The Blue Rose,’ a fairy tale set in China about a quest for an impossible rose.

The Skull of the World


Cover art by Spike Wademan

  • Title: The Skull of the World
  • Series: The Witches of Eileanan Book 5
  • First Published: June 2001
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN: 1740510429

'Sign of the Soul-Sage, a good omen for your quest,' the Soul-Sage said. 'A sign of death as well as wisdom, though, remember. Change ahead for you, like the change wrought on a landscape by an avalanche. There are things in your past and in your unknown which shall seize you in their jaws and seek to drag you under.'

Isabeau has immersed herself in the life of the Khan'cohbans but she still hopes to return to Eileanan from her self-imposed exile. First, though, she must undertake her journey of initiation to the Skull of the World, where the cruel and enigmatic Gods of White will at last reveal her true destiny to her. And when, changed beyond belief, Isabeau can finally return to her own people, it is only to find she alone can confront Margrit of Arran, whose evil machinations threaten to destroy all that Isabeau holds most dear.


Isabeau has remained in exile on the Spine of the World, for Lachlan has not forgiven her for saving Maya from death and giving the Ensorcellor back her daughter Bronwyn. Isabeau is unhappy that her actions should be so misunderstood, but gains some measure of peace getting to know her parents and spending each winter with the Khan'cohbans as the queen-dragon had commanded. The time comes when she must undertake her journey of initiation to the Skull of the World, where the cruel and enigmatic Gods of White will reveal her destiny to her. On this journey she will face many dangers but by overcoming them, will finally discover her true Talent.

She is at last free to return to Lucescere and the Tower of Two Moons, where she plans to study to be a sorceress. Meanwhile, Iseult and Lachlan have been busy with the invasion of Tìrsoilleir. While they are away fighting the Bright Soldiers, Margrit the Thistle kidnaps their son Donncan, the heir to the throne, and her grandson, Iain's son Neil. There is no-one but Isabeau left in Lucescere to try and save them. Alone, she has to try and vanquish Margrit, the cruellest and most subtle sorceress in the land ..