Home All 2017 Popular Book Lists

Mckillip Patricia (2017 Most Popular Book Lists)

1. The Bards of Bone Plain
2. Harrowing the Dragon
3. Cygnet
4. The Bell at Sealey Head
5. The Changeling Sea
6. The Book of Atrix Wolfe
7. The Tower at Stony Wood
8. Alphabet Of Thorn
9. Riddle-Master
10. Od Magic
11. Solstice Wood
12. Winter Rose
13. In The Forests Of Serre
14. Fool's Run
15. Song for the Basilisk
16. Something Rich and Strange (Ibooks
17. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (Magic
18. Moon-Flash
19. Ombria in Shadow
20. The Mammoth Book of Sorcerer's

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1. The Bards of Bone Plain
by Patricia A. McKillip
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2010-12-07)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$16.47
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441019579
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

The newest novel from the World Fantasy Award-winning author of The Bell at Sealey Head.

With "her exquisite grasp of the fantasist's craft"* (Publishers Weekly) Patricia A. McKillip now invites readers to discover a place that may only exist in the mystical wisdom of poetry and music.

Scholar Phelan Cle is researching Bone Plain-which has been studied for the last 500 years, though no one has been able to locate it as a real place. Archaeologist Jonah Cle, Phelan's father, is also hunting through time, piecing history together from forgotten trinkets. His most eager disciple is Princess Beatrice, the king's youngest daughter. When they unearth a disk marked with ancient runes, Beatrice pursues the secrets of a lost language that she suddenly notices all around her, hidden in plain sight. ... Read more

2. Harrowing the Dragon
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 320 Pages (2006-11-07)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.33
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441014437
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

A fantasist without equal, Patricia A. McKillip has created worlds of intricate beauty and unforgettably nuanced characters. For 25 years, she's drawn readers into her spell, spinning modern-day fables with a grace rarely seen.

Now she presents a book of previously uncollected short stories, full of beautiful dragons, rueful princesses, and handsome bards, and written in the gorgeous-and often surprisingly funny-prose she's known for. This is her world, wrapped up in the finery of fairy tales. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not at all harrowing!
This collection of short stories by fantasy writer Patricia A. McKillip is wonderful! I liked almost every story and even the ones I didn't like as well were still worth the read. I'm already looking forward to reading this one again. "Lady of the Skulls" was a favorite even before I found this collection, and the rest of the stories are gems as well. If you like McKillip, or fantasy in general, this does not disappoint.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine Fantasy
I love short stories, and each one of these wonderful fantasy shorts are perfect to read before bed!Patricia MckIllip really paints pictures with her words, and she is one of my favorite authors.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Hoarsbreath is a Dragon's Heart..."
Patricia A. McKillip is the author of several wonderful books (my favourites being "Alphabet of Thorn" and "Winter Rose") and is one of the few fantasists in the publishing world that is original. Although her stories may contain typical fantasy elements (dragons, heroes, kingdoms, quests, good versus evil, etc) they are written in such beautiful poetic-prose that the stories transcend the clichés they stem from; reading more as luminous fairytales than hum-drum fantasy. Although the prose is beautiful, it is also an acquired taste. When I was first introduced to her work, I found it rather difficult to adjust to a story that was often hidden under such dense, rich language. Of course, it's worth it in the end, but for those just starting out on McKillip, perhaps this anthology of short stories is a good starting place.

And for those already well-versed in the magic of McKillip's writing, a series of stories is an added bonus to add to a collection. McKillip is just as skilled in the creation of short stories as she is in full-length novels, and sometimes a quick-fix of her work is just what a devoted reader needs. Containing fifteen stories (some of which span a few pages, others which are better described as novellas); there's enough variety amongst them to keep each one fresh and interesting.

In the story that gives the book its title, "Harrowing the Dragon", a dragon-slayer comes to the island of Hoarsbreath in order to harrow the dragon from its shores. He is joined by a native of the island, a young woman who isn't too sure if she wants the dragon to go. "A Matter of Music" concerns Cresce Dami, a bard who has freshly graduated from her school with ambitions of playing in Daghian. Attempting to negotiate her way through the rules and etiquette of playing music in a high court, Cresce becomes involved in the political machinations of the countries surrounding her. These stories are by far the longest in the entire book, and are typical of McKillip's wonderful world-building and imagery.

McKillip borrows from other fairytales too: in "Baba Yaga and the Sorcerer's Son", she uses the Russian folklore of Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged house to imagine a meeting between the witch and a young wizard who needs her help, whilst the Hans Christian Anderson tale of "The Snow Queen" imagines a contemporary setting in which Kay cheats on his devoted wife Gerda with a beautiful stranger...but Gerda - whose entire life has revolved around Kay - finds a hidden strength of her own to survive his betrayal. "The Lion and the Lark" is an amalgamation of several fairytales, (most obviously Beauty and the Beast, though keep your eyes open for the others) which makes it a little predictable, though ends with an image of amazing imaginary force. Finally, in the story that ends the book, "Toad" is an explanatory back-story of "The Frog Prince", explaining why the prince would agree to marry such a spoilt princess. McKillip looks deep into the imagery at work throughout the fairytale, using the golden ball and the frog's intrusion into the princess's life as a metaphor for her burgeoning maturity. I'll never look at the Frog Prince the same way again.

As well as building on other sources, McKillip creates fairytales all her own. In "A Troll and Two Roses" she weaves the tale of an ugly troll who becomes enraptured by a beautiful rose and its connection to two enchanted lovers, while in "The Fellowship of the Dragon" five bards go out in search of the Queen's favourite harper, only to fall prey to the traps and snares strewn throughout the wood they must traverse. "Lady of the Skulls" (one of my favourites) involves a mysterious tower in the desert, to which many questing knights travel, attracted by the promise that should they take the most precious thing that it holds, they will be allowed to keep it. The catch? If they choose wrongly, they die. Then there's "The Stranger", which concerns a man who forms dragons out of the colours in nature and his own imagination, and the weaver-woman who tries to prevent him from the destruction he wreaks. In "Voyage into the Heart", we are privy to a unicorn hunt in which the bait (a young virgin naturally) is unaware of her part to play in its capture.

There are two other stories that don't seem to fit into any category: "The Witches of Junket", which involves three prodigal grand-daughters returning to their hometown to help destroy an escaping evil, and my personal favourite "Starcrossed", which concerns the investigation into the deaths of Romeo and Juliet by a soldier who is disillusioned with love. It's a fantastic concept, and McKillip pulls it off brilliantly.

Lastly there are two little stories (which come across more like experimental writing exercises) "Ash, Wood, Fire" and "Transmutations", the former concerning the dynamics of a medieval kitchen, the latter exploring what goes on in an alchemical laboratory. They are probably the weakest stories of the anthology, but they are both reasonably short (and with other such exemplary stories on display, it doesn't really bear complaining about). Besides, thirteen out of fifteen ain't bad.

Altogether, this is a great collection and a must for any McKillip (not to mention K. Y. Craft, who always provides beautiful cover art) fan.

5-0 out of 5 stars Always a pleasure
It was good to read all those fairy tales and see the same magic that enchanted me with "The Changeling Sea". My only complaint is the same for all others book by the autor, that some short stories ended without telling all about them, making me hungry for the next one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great selection of short stories
A great selection of short stories by a masterful fantasy author. ... Read more

3. Cygnet
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 416 Pages (2007-03-06)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441014836
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

In the realm of fantasy, one name stands out from the crowd. For many years, Patricia A. McKillip has charmed readers with her "unique brand of prose magic" (Locus). Now, for the first time in one volume, she offers two of her classic tales-The Sorceress and the Cygnet and The Cygnet and the Firebird-which delve into the fate of the Ro family and an otherworld rich in myth and mayhem, magic and adventure ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Patricia A McKillip's my favorite, but this isn't her best
Still, if you like her writing style, get it for sure.

If you've never read McKillip before, I recommend the Harper Trilogy.

Her writing style is very lyrical and evocative. It's always such a dreamy pleasure to settle into one of her books. I only wish she'd write more. The old ones from the 70s and 80s are difficult to find, but regardless she's progressed so much since then. Her newer work is where it's at.

5-0 out of 5 stars fun and enchanting
This is really two books in one volume.They could be read independent of one another, but by the end of the first book you know the main characters of the second.Of the two my favorite was the second, but both were excellent.McKillip weaves magic and mystery in with great character development.Once you get into the book it is difficult to put down.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Cygnet flies

Two of Patricia McKillip's most lyrical books are the Cygnet duology, the story of a sorcerous family and the mysterious forces that shape their world. "Cygnet" compiles those books, bringing together the intoxicating mixture of unique magic, invisible dragons, and McKillip's shimmering prose.

"The Sorceress and the Cygnet" introduces us to Corleu, one of the Wayfolk (sort of like gypsies), but with a head of white hair and a strange love of legend. When the Wayfolk become ensnared in a magical trap, Corleu finds his way out, and encounters the mysterious sorceress Nyx, living in the middle of a swamp.

But the Wayfolk aren't the only ones in danger -- the ancient castle of Ro Holding is being haunted by strange godlike beings -- foxes, tinkers, a blind woman -- who seem to have stepped out of ancient legend. To free the Wayfolk, Corleu must unrael the secrets of these beings, and of the mysterious Cygnet.

"The Cygnet and the Firebird" is a sort of McKillipesque version of "Swan Lake." Ro Holding is invaded by two magical forces: a mage who kidnaps magical warrior Meguet Vervaine, and whisks her away to a strange desert, and a young prince enchanted into a firebird's form, whose song can transform objects and people, and who only turns back to himself at moonrise.

Turns out that the mage and the young man-bird are connected, and that the prince cannot remember exactly how he became this way. Now Nyx stretches out her powers to the Luxor Desert, where strange magics and invisible dragons are all over, and Meguet uncovers hidden secrets...

McKillip has never specialized in easy, cliched fantasy -- you know, the cheap stuff with lots of flashy wizards, D&D warriors and sadistic warlords. Her brand of fantasy is more subtle and magical, usually filled with eerie, glimmering conflicts that are of one kind of magic against another.

Like J.R.R. Tolkien, McKillip's writing is all wrapped up in nature's beauty, wind and roses and jeweled trees, as well as the majesty of deserts and forests. And she definitely brings odd scenes to life, such as Corleu's escape from the trap, or Ro Holding being moved from one place to another. It's a bit like being locked inside a beautiful, ivy-covered dream.

And the characters are similarly nonstereotypical, from the dreamy gypsy to the pensive warrior-woman, the enigmatic matriarch to the oddball sorceress. But even better, McKillip gets inside their heads and presents their feelings -- loneliness, love, sorrow and wonderment at the world -- with as much power as if they were all real people.

"Cygnet" brings together two elusive, beautiful fantasy stories, and they're even better when both halves of Ro Holding's story are brought together. Definitely a great read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Two in one
In case you somehow missed it, this edition actually contains two books.The first book is The Sorceress & The Cygnet; the second book is The Cygnet & The Firebird.
I have seen other reviewers state that these books are very confusing & difficult to understand.I will admit that the beginning of book #1 was hard to follow but I think that the author may have intended it this way because the main character's mind is in a muddled state.Don't be daunted by this because it starts to clear up by chapter 4 & it becomes a really interesting story about power & magic.
I have also seen other reviewers write that they did not think that book #2 is as good as book #1.I think I enjoyed The Cygnet & The Firebird more than the first book.It was, overall, easier to follow & there was a little more suspense & mystery.
Both are excellent books, as are all of McKillip's novels that I've read.I highly recommend anything by this author.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Cygnet flies
Two of Patricia McKillip's most lyrical books are the Cygnet duology, the story of a sorcerous family and the mysterious forces that shape their world. "Cygnet" compiles those books, bringing together the intoxicating mixture of unique magic, invisible dragons, and McKillip's shimmering prose.

"The Sorceress and the Cygnet" introduces us to Corleu, one of the Wayfolk (sort of like gypsies), but with a head of white hair and a strange love of legend. When the Wayfolk become ensnared in a magical trap, Corleu finds his way out, and encounters the mysterious sorceress Nyx, living in the middle of a swamp.

But the Wayfolk aren't the only ones in danger -- the ancient castle of Ro Holding is being haunted by strange godlike beings -- foxes, tinkers, a blind woman -- who seem to have stepped out of ancient legend.To free the Wayfolk, Corleu must unrael the secrets of these beings, and of the mysterious Cygnet.

"The Cygnet and the Firebird" is a sort of McKillipesque version of "Swan Lake." Ro Holding is invaded by two magical forces: a mage who kidnaps magical warrior Meguet Vervaine, and whisks her away to a strange desert, and a young prince enchanted into a firebird's form, whose song can transform objects and people, and who only turns back to himself at moonrise.

Turns out that the mage and the young man-bird are connected, and that the prince cannot remember exactly how he became this way. Now Nyx stretches out her powers to the Luxor Desert, where strange magics and invisible dragons are all over, and Meguet uncovers hidden secrets...

McKillip has never specialized in easy, cliched fantasy -- you know, the cheap stuff with lots of flashy wizards, D&D warriors and sadistic warlords. Her brand of fantasy is more subtle and magical, usually filled with eerie, glimmering conflicts that are of one kind of magic against another.

Like J.R.R. Tolkien, McKillip's writing is all wrapped up in nature's beauty, wind and roses and jeweled trees, as well as the majesty of deserts and forests. And she definitely brings odd scenes to life, such as Corleu's escape from the trap, or Ro Holding being moved from one place to another. It's a bit like being locked inside a beautiful, ivy-covered dream.

And the characters are similarly nonstereotypical, from the dreamy gypsy to the pensive warrior-woman, the enigmatic matriarch to the oddball sorceress. But even better, McKillip gets inside their heads and presents their feelings -- loneliness, love, sorrow and wonderment at the world -- with as much power as if they were all real people.

"Cygnet" brings together two elusive, beautiful fantasy stories, and they're even better when both halves of Ro Holding's story are brought together. Definitely a great read. ... Read more

4. The Bell at Sealey Head
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 288 Pages (2009-09-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$5.52
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: B0035G031C
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

An "elegant" (Library Journal) fantasy from the World Fantasy Award- winning author of Solstice Wood

Sealey Head is a small town on the edge of the ocean, a sleepy place where everyone hears the ringing of a bell no one can see. On the outskirts of town is the one truly great house, Aislinn House, where the aged Lady Eglantyne lies dying, and where the doors sometimes open not to its own dusty rooms, but to the wild majesty of a castle full of knights and princesses...

... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars A love for language
This is a haunting beautifully written fantasy. I found myself racing through to find out what happens, then stopping to read a passage again and again because of the beauty of the language.

5-0 out of 5 stars A pleasant book
This year I discovered Patricia mcKillip reading "The Riddle master" trilogy...and what a discover she was! After that I started trying to pick all her books I can find. Since here in Italy there are few of them I bought most of them in English. "The Bell at Sealey Head" is her more recent book, and like her other stories it entwines love, romance, magic. Here we are in a small town by the sea, where an unseen bellrings every day at sunset. A scholar coming from a city nearby arrives in town trying to solve this mistery. You will follow the story from the perspective of a young innkeeper who loves books, a merchant's daughter who love writing stories and a housemaid who opens doors in another world. Once more McKillip's poetry enchants the reader bringing him in a small world full of magic and unforgettable characters

1-0 out of 5 stars new...not so new book
I recently purchased this book (new) as a gift for someone's collection of McKillip books. When I opened the box and pulled out the book, there were sad and disturbing features that came with the book. The sad part was the nasty and highly sticky amazon isbn sticker on the back book jacket. But I knew that I would be able to remove it with some time and patience. The second surprise,the disturbing feature was a black 'permanent' marker mark along the bottom edge of the book. So I returned the book to amazon for another. I have to admit that the customer service was superb. But after a couple days of anxiety, the book arrived with the same black mark. Why????????? Did I not purchase a brand new book? I'm considering returning it and paying FULL price at some book store...

SO WORD OF WARNING: anyone interested in buy this book...be prepared for the black mark on your 'new' book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellant fantsey just shor of great!
The story is about a moderately prosperous little port, Sealy Head, which is unremarkable except for a bell that has been tolling every day at sunset for centuries.But no one knows where it is or who is responsible.The story has excellent characters including Judd (tavern keeper of a tavern that has seen better days and has a catastrophic cook), Gwyneth (who is writing a story within the story) the daughter of a prosperous merchant trader, Ridley a traveling scholar, among others.The story kicks off when Ridley comes to stay in the tavern to investigate the bell.Lots of good humor as Ridley is traveling with a library, a wood witch who stereotypically lives in a house made from a tree and Gwyneth's family.But a real puzzle is who the protagonist is?Judd and Gwyneth are more side kicks, and the only other possibility after Ridley (investigator/instigator) is Aislinn House (a badly schizophrenic dwelling).So far I think the house is the protagonist.

Overall and excellent read saved from greatness by a somewhat unsatisfactory villain.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Dreamy Fairytale
I have read a lot of Patricia McKillip's books and she is one of my favorite authors.This book, like all the rest, is beautifully written in elegant language.There is subtle humor, no objectionable content, also like her other books.An aging manor on Sealey Head, a fishing village that could be anywhere, in the century before combustion engines, has a secret life.A maid in the manor and a select few other people, have glimpses into this secret.A bell rings on Sealey Head every evening at sundown, but the bell is not visible to anyone.There is a secret magic to the bell that forms the storyline.There are also a few touching love stories that weave thru the story, and of course, a villain. One of the charactors is writing stories about the bell throughout the book.It is a fairy tale, and a good one, but not my favorite McKillip book.Still, I recommend it to those who enjoy a dreamy fairy tale to transport them to a different realm for a while. ... Read more

5. The Changeling Sea
by Patricia A. McKillip
Mass Market Paperback: 144 Pages (2003-04-14)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$2.28
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0141312629
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Since the day her father's fishing boat returned without him, Peri and her mother have mourned his loss.Her mother sinks into a deep depression and spends her days gazing out at the sea. Unable to control her anger and sadness any longer, Peri uses the small magic she knows to hex the sea.And suddenly into her drab life come the King's sons-changelings with strange ties to the underwater kingdom-a young magician, and, finally, love. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

4-0 out of 5 stars Angieville: THE CHANGELING SEA
It's no secret that Patricia McKillip is a most beloved author for so many fantasy readers. I discovered her late in the game, when I ran across a beautiful reissued omnibus edition of Riddle-Master Trilogy in a Barnes & Noble several years ago. After finishing that excellent trilogy, I went looking for any other McKillip books I could get my hands on. The result was a binge, of sorts, in which I blew through six or seven titles without a by-your-leave. And it was an immensely good time. But it did result in a little bit of fatigue, as her writing style is very specific and lyrical and I wound up needing to cleanse my palate a little after. Since then I've re-read a few of my favorites here and there, particularly the Riddle-Master and The Book of Atrix Wolfe, but not since The Tower at Stony Wood's release have I picked up one of her new ones. While I was perusing the McKillip section on my shelves the other night, the slender little volume THE CHANGELING SEA caught my eye and I got to thinking it might be time to get back on the McKillip wagon. Originally published in 1988, this young adult fantasy has stood the test of time. Firebird put out the pretty little edition pictured on the right in 2003 and, having worked hard to find my own used copy, I was happy to see new life breathed into it. I also think it's the most accurate artistic representation of Peri herself and the spiraling, mesmerizing tone of the novel.

Nobody ever really noticed Periwinkle. She and her small family have always been a bit on their own, quietly living out their lives in their sleepy fishing village. And then the year she turns fifteen, Peri is suddenly really and truly alone for the first time in her young life. It seems the sea has taken everything that she loves. First her father who drowned and now her mother who failed to get over her father's death to the point where she no longer talks to Peri at all. And so Peri spends her days working as a chamber maid, scrubbing floors at the local inn, and her nights trying desperately to curse the sea that's been the source of all her sorrow. Magic has always been a part of Peri's world, though it's never made itself known with quite such a presence as it does the day the King arrives in town with his son Prince Kir. The unhappy prince has a problem that plagues him, a problem he hopes Peri may be able to help him with. If she will just include something of his in her latest curse, perhaps the longing that rides him will abate. Neither of them expect the sea monster who rises as a result. A sea monster bound by a golden chain and from that point on, nothing is the same in Peri's life, and it is with gratitude she accepts the help of the wizard Lyo--a sort of local wise man. Between the four of them--the girl, the prince, the wizard, and the dragon--they piece together the mystery of what happened in that same place so many years ago and why it's rearing its ugly head now.

I loved Peri instantly and without reserve. From the very first page, she is not your classic fairy tale heroine. The opening lines:


No one really knew where Peri lived the year after the sea took her father and cast his boat, shrouded in a tangle of fishing net, like an empty shell back onto the beach. She came home when she chose to, sat at her mother's hearth without talking, brooding sullenly at the small, quiet house with the glass floats her father had found, colored bubbles of light, still lying on the dusty windowsill, and the same crazy quilt he had slept under still on the bed, and the door open on quiet evenings to the same view of the village and the harbor with the fishing boats homing in on the incoming tide. Sometimes her mother would rouse herself and cook; sometimes Peri would eat, sometimes she wouldn't. She hated the vague, lost expression on her mother's face, her weary movements. Her hair had begun to gray; she never smiled, she never sang. The sea, it seemed to Peri, had taken her mother as well as her father, and left some stranger wandering despairingly among her cooking pots.


She is not beautiful or poised or charming or sweet. But she is kind and determined and involved in unraveling the mystery from beginning to end. She earns the trust of the men around her before (if) she earns their love and we (and they) are frequently reminded of her flaws, from scraped knees to a nose on the large side. Urchin from top to bottom, it is most definitely what's inside that matters with this girl. And it matters quite a lot as so many come to depend on her, including the unusual and wondrous creature from the sea who is himself not exactly what he seems. As is always the case with a McKillip tale, the poetic language and gracefully interwoven magic lend a golden glow to the whole. At the same time, this is one of her more "real" stories. Peri is so real. Cloaked in the unreal and unbelievable elements around her, she remains focused and bright. Clocking in at a scant 144 pages, it is also a prime (and all-too- rare) example of a book I don't wish longer. It's perfect just as it is, especially the ending. The briefness only accentuates the sweetness and strangeness and I never fail to finish it at ease with my world and hers.

3-0 out of 5 stars Left me wanting more!
A brief little story that seems to me should maybe have been a longer book.Despite that I liked very much.Big Patricia McKillip fan.

5-0 out of 5 stars A moving fairytale on par with The Little Prince.
I haven't picked up a Patricia A. McKillip novel in about 15 years, but recently I have been re-visiting my youth by way of the books I remember reading.When I stumbled across the synopsis for this one while searching for the Book of Atrix Wolfe, I was immediately intrigued by it.I love the sea and everything pertaining to it, so reading of Peri's bittersweet connection to it was captivating, to say the least.The imagery is stunning, the characters richly described and the story entrancing.I'm not a fast reader, but it is an easy read, so I found myself finished in a 24 hour period, despite a full day of work and a full night of sleep.I put it down only when forced.

I didn't remember much of the synopsis by the time I had it in my hands, mostly because I had read so many plot summaries around the same time, but I'm glad of it because I found myself reading it with fresh eyes, wondering who each mysterious new character was and how they related to each other.I think that's the way to read books and see movies, so I'm not going to say much about the plot.I will only tell you what I told my friend when I called her immediately following my completion of the book with tears still in my eyes and sniffles still plaguing my nose:Read this novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written Fantasy
This is one of those books that you actually wish was longer.
I discovered this gem years ago at the library. I've re-read it a dozen times since then.

The subtle love between Peri and Kir made me cry, especially at the end where they're saying goodbye to each other. This is a tale of unrequited love if there ever was one.

The cast of characters in this book is phenomenal. Peri, herself, is not your typical heroine. She's not beautiful and perfect; she just is. Prince Kir's pain and melancholy resonates off the page. He longs to live in the world that he believes exists underneath the waves (kind of like a reverse Little Mermaid) and Peri promises to help him find it. The magician Lyo is charming and funny. The second prince's innocence is sweet and endearing. Some of my favorite characters were the workers at the inn, who are just trying to make the most of life. Every character was vibrant and alive to the point that I actually thought they were real!

At the end of the journey, you'll start to believe that there really is a magical land under the sea, and you'll long to find it for yourself. McKillip is an amazing storyteller.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story
I have always loved this book, it is one of my favorites of this author's works.It is a sweet story, not very long, and has a way of sticking with you.Patricia McKillip must have a very interesting way of seeing the world! ... Read more

6. The Book of Atrix Wolfe
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 256 Pages (2008-02-05)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$3.49
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441015654
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Twenty years ago, the powerful mage Atrix Wolfe unleashed an uncontrollable force that killed his beloved king. Now, the Queen of the Wood has offered him one last chance for redemption. She asks him to find her daughter, who vanished into the human world during the massacre he caused. No one has seen the princess-but deep in the kitchens of the Castle of Pelucir, there is a scullery maid who appeared out of nowhere one night long ago. She cannot speak and her eyes are full of sadness. But there are those who call her beautiful. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Book of Atrix Wolfe
Patricia A. McKillip is an excellent author! The reviews only tell a flatten view of the book, her books are layers of tapestries that weave together a story in a way no other authors seem to be able to copy, a true master.

5-0 out of 5 stars A rich tapestry of words
I won't bother with a synopsis since others have provided one already. Ms. McKillip's style of writing may not be for everyone, but anyone who loves words must love her novels. Not only does she create interesting twists on favorite fairy tales, but she presents them in a rich and subtle tapestry of words that weaves you into its spell. She creates images and feelings with words that give the story depth beyond what you normally expect fromprint on a page. This is story poetry.

I believe Atrix Wolfe is the pinnacle of Ms. McKillip's attempt to balance her expressive imagery and narrative flow. Books presented before this one show her experimenting with both in order to find the right mix. The trick was to find a way to blend the imagery without it bogging down the flow of the story and to tell a well plotted tale without losing the richness of her chosen style. Here she finally managed to find just the right recipe.

All of her stories are excellent and worth reading, but I couldn't help feeling that subsequent stories had more of an air of formula about them. It's a wonderful formula which never disappoints, but some of them lack a certain feeling of involvement and burgeoning creativity that past books held. I hope that she will continue to write and will find new interest in future projects, but for now if you want to read an exemplary example of her work I recommend Atrix Wolfe.

The Riddle Master of Hed series of course remains a solid classic of the genre. (It is a good example of her storytelling without as much embellishment for those who are not especially fond of poetry.)

4-0 out of 5 stars "I Would Have Brought You Every Bird in the Wood..."
Patricia McKillip once again takes a seemingly simple plot and shapes into something mysterious and beautiful through the use of her poetic, luminous language. It must be said that McKillip's writing style is entirely unique, to the point where it is slightly off-putting to anyone reading it for the first time. Because she incomparable to anyone else I can think of, the best I can do to explain it is to say that her books are like Shakespeare in the fact that it seems indecipherable when you first begin to read, but after getting used to the technique, it gradually begins to make more and more sense till you can finally appreciate its beauty and the skill that went into creating it.

The powerful mage Atrix Wolfe is known throughout the lands as the White Wolf, due to his tendency to shape shift into a wolf during the winter to avoid human company. He seldom interferes in mortal affairs, but in his wanderings he comes across the kingdom of Pelucir, under siege by the conquering kingdom of Kardeth. Now the merciless winter holds both sides in a stalemate, and when Atrix fails in his parley with the Prince of Kardeth, the mage comes to a solution all his own. Drawing up magic from the carnage around him, he creates a being to cease the fighting on both sides; the haunting visage of an antlered Hunter.

But the consequences of his magical tampering have greater effects than even he is aware of. In the nearby woods dwells the mystical Queen of the Wood, who has watched the proceedings with her consort Ilyos and her daughter Sorrow. Now with Atrix's sudden and violent surge of magic, the Queen's beloved and her daughter are swept up into the mortal world, beyond her powers to retrieve them again.

Now, twenty years later a range of seemingly-unconnected incidents occur that bring the mystery to light once again; involving the missing Atrix Wolfe, the magician-prince Talis and the strange spellbook he finds, and a mute scullery maid named Saro who diligently scrubs cauldrons in the busy world of the palace kitchens. All three characters are intimately connected to each other, though none of them are aware of it, and are called into the service of the Queen of the Wood to find her daughter and rid the world of Atrix's terrible mistake.

McKillip always instigates components of real legend and folktale; in this case it is the mythical figure of the Queen of the Wood and the Hunter of the Wild Hunt; archetypal figures that have no names but are recognisable wherever they appear in literature. I make mention of names, because they are another main theme of the story - there is a commentary running throughout the tale of the meaning, mysteries and purpose of names; and if the final line doesn't make you smile then...well, let's just say it *will* make you smile.

My first experience with McKillip ("The Riddlemasters of Hed") left me absolutely baffled, but by this stage I was familiar with McKillip's work and knew what to except; a vague narrative that relies more on dreamy imagery and poetic descriptive passages than three-dimensional characters and clear plotlines. It may not sound very appealing to some, but give it a try. Like Shakespeare and fine wine, it gets better the more you try it.

5-0 out of 5 stars I'm left speechless
Whenever I read a McKillip book I feel like I did when I was a kid, and magic really exists in the world.I get sad over the next week as reality re-asserts itself around me.Like a first love, it's something I cherish, that her books can evoke these feelings of wonder in me.I've never read an author that writes like this save her.If you don't know what I'm talking about, buy ANY of her books.If you have read her before, then get this book.It's the best.I was so wrapped up in the characters, I couldn't talk for an hour after I read it the first time.Or the second and third.This is the book that convinced me to become a collector, and buy only hardcovers.They're worth reading again and again, and the artwork on the covers is something you'll want to preserve.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Uncommon Fantasy
As other reviewers provide summaries, I will not repeat them.Ms. McKillip doesn't write as many authors of this genre do.Instead of a more plot-driven story, her writing focuses more on developing imagery through colorful descriptions.Additionally she doesn't provide a "paint-by-number" story telling.The plot, while usually fascinating and original, is almost secondary to the world she reveals in her books.
That said, when I first read this book 4 years ago, I was used to the more plot-intensive fantasy stories with or without magic and sword-wielding hero(ine)s.While I quickly fell under the spell of Ms. McKillip's story-telling, I had many questions at the end of the book.I felt some dissatisfaction because I wanted fuller descriptions/explanations about some of the characters' motivations.In fact, not much happens after the initial spell-making.
I recently picked up this book again and, this time, found it more meaningful.It was like experiencing a vivid dream while awake.I felt as if I had somehow stumbled into a slightly more sophisticated version of a fairy tale.As long as you don't expect a typical fantasy read, I strongly recommend this book to experience something different in this genre. ... Read more

7. The Tower at Stony Wood
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 304 Pages (2001-05-01)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$13.99
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441008291
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Amazon.com Review
World Fantasy Award-winning author McKillip (Song for the Basilisk) returns with another lyrical, richly detailed fantasy. Cyan Dag, knight of Gloinmere, is sworn to serve King Regis Aurum of Yves. Cyan's oath leads him headlong into dangerous magical territory, however, when Idra, Bard of Skye, reveals that the King's new bride, Lady Gwynne, is an impostor. The true Lady Gwynne is trapped in an enchanted stone tower in distant Skye, a magical mirror her only means of viewing the outside world. Bound by his oath to protect the King, Cyan rides west to free Lady Gwynne. In the meantime, Thayne Ysse, son of the king of Ysse, has never forgotten his father's defeat at the hands of King Regis Aurum. Now he seeks a tower guarded by a dragon, a tower filled with gold enough to raise a new army and defeat Yves once and for all. And in another ancient tower outside the coastal village of Stony Wood, Melanthos, the daughter of a land-bound selkie and a fisherman, obsessively embroiders pictures of a lonely woman trapped in a distant tower who may or may not be real. Although Cyan Dag took up his quest with one goal in mind, he soon realizes that the only route to saving Lady Gwynne lies tangled with the lives of Thayne and Melanthos, and in the mysterious motives of Idra and her woods-wise sister Sidera. Once again McKillip skillfully knits disparate threads into a rewardingly rich and satisfying story. --Charlene Brusso ... Read more

Customer Reviews (37)

5-0 out of 5 stars A tapestry
My grandmother died when I was young. Mostly, my memories of her are of her being sick and in a wheelchair. However, my absolute earliest memory of her was when she was sitting at her loom. To a four year old, a loom is a fascinating device (and one that should not be touched by grubby hands). It's gigantic and full of strings and things. When your grandmother sits at it, it whistles and hums, and string magically turns into blankets.

As an adult, weaving is fascinating, but from a very different perspective. It is a linear process, where you stack the threads up and form an image or pattern over time. Embroidery, by contrast, leaps around as the artist can choose the colour, location, and type of stitch. Weavers are somewhat more limited in their possible techniques. This limitation makes tapestries all the more impressive, as unlike embroidery, a weaver must hold the entire design in their mind as they work. If something must be changed, the work must be unraveled to the point of change and then re-woven.

Whether the pictures are formed through embroidery or weaving, the eye appreciates them the same way as painting, photography and other image-based art. The challenge of the artist is that the viewer will never "see" the piece in the same way as the artist. The artist can guide the viewer's eye through a combination of colour, placement, and contrast. In painting and embroidery, the artist can also use variations in texture. However, the artist has no direct control over the viewer.

Interestingly, the written world is the exact opposite. The author has the freedom to write in whatever order they choose. They can write parts of the story out of order. They can unravel parts of the plot and change things as they go with complete impunity. However, the reader must (generally) appreciate the work in a linear fashion. Thus, the writer has the combination of freedom over the work combined with control over the reader.

This is what makes The Tower at Stony Wood all the more interesting. When I started reading it, it was a confusing story about two men and their respective attachments and driving forces (family, girlfriend, honor and freedom, to be precise). It's a story about a mother and her daughter and how the magic they deny themselves traps them in their lives. It's also a story about Fate.

It's hard to read. The perspective shifts from character to character and the personal pronouns are incredibly difficult to follow. It's even harder because the magic happens "behind the scenes" leaving the reader utterly befuddled as to what is real and what is not as people transform into other people, embroidery transforms into that which it depicts, memories change and retroactively alter the plot.

It turns out, in the end, that Patricia McKillip wrote a book that must be read in the same way that one weaves a tapestry. By the end, and only at the end, do you understand why everything had to happen in exactly the same way it did. You understand why she picked the threads that she did, why the characters are placed where they are, and why the Fates are commonly depicted with a loom.

When I've read the Greek myths, I always envision Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos standing in a dark cave... but with my grandmother's loom. When I think of Patricia McKillip, I envision her sitting at an old fashioned writing desk... in the same room that my grandmother's loom used to be.

Much like a watching your grandmother weave a blanket, you don't fully appreciate this book while you're in the process... you appreciate it once you're done and you look at it and think "Wow".

5-0 out of 5 stars Scintilating and mysterious...
I really enjoy McKillip's intriguing characters who are often set in a twisted set of mishaps, meetings, and conflict.She sometimes requires a bit of patience, but if you finish to the end, you won't be left unsatisfied.:)Her images and settings and characters are infinitely varied and magical.

3-0 out of 5 stars McKillip has better works out there
I love her work - I really do. I have read half a dozen by now and ordered the rest already. Her poetic way, her romantic stories, her incredible dialogues keep drawing me in for more.

However, I think after wading through half a dozen of her work, I have to admit that McKillip tends to be rather...well...repetitive. Granted, some might call this 'style'. But I think that with the kind of creativity she is showing, she could surely come up with more startling and overwhelming work.

My favorite so far is 'In the Forest of Serre'. That one seemed a perfect combination of legend, myth, reality. Alphabet of Thorn wasn't that bad, either. This novel, however, from the veyr beginning failed to put its hooks into me like the others did. The story started interesting enough. But I get the feeling that as her careers peaks, McKillip is drawn to write more absurd and vague. Which leaves a good amount of confusion that the reader feels forced to sort through and with this one it led to a point when I was reading merely for the sake of her style, not the story that evaded my understanding with every page. I could not connect the events at all and none of the characters were loveable as they had been in 'Winter Rose' for instance. They seemed aloof and two-dimensional - chess pawns that I wasn't really interested in. The ending felt rushed and completely unsatisfactory. I felt left hanging despite the so-called explanations and couldn't bring myself to accept it somehow. It felt as if the novel was suddenly forced to be finished and she had done exactly that - at the cost of a lame ending.

Sadly, not even her suberp lyrical style was enough to save this story for me. I still think that it is a good read if you have nothing else at hand and feel like a little poetry. But if you want more substantial works, she has other books out there.

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing for McKillip
I found that the author's style was poetic as usual, but that the story lacked cohesiveness, even at the end (when eveything is supposed to fall in place). Yes there were no truly evil characters, but I still felt no connection to any of the characters except Sel. She was the only one with an inner landscape. She was the only one whose motivations were made clear. She was also the only one I cared about enough about to want to know what her fate might be.

I felt that all the other characters were flat "characterizations." There was the "knight," the "damsel in distress," the "warrior," the girl waiting at home for her love to return, the couple who argued, the doddering king and the "evil" queen.

I especially found the "false" queen's motivation lacking any coherence or relevance. This is in direct contrast to my still favorite McKillip novels "the riddle Master of Hed" series. In them, by the end there is a rationale for the tribulations the protagonist must suffer through. As well, Morgon's triumph in the Riddle Master is on a the broadest scale, that of mastery over a wonderfully detailed world. In this novel the resolution (if one could even call it a resolution) seems trivial.

Another area that McKillips usually satisfies is the connection of the characters to their land. This is clearly lacking here.

Of course this is only my opinion. I have read all of McKillip's works, and have come to expect a great deal from her.

4-0 out of 5 stars Three sisters, three towers
First let me say that I absolutely love Mckillip's books, although I have only read three. I am sure the others are just as good though and I intend to read them soon.
This book is really several tales wound seamlessly together into one story. Each chapter alternates between several characters: Cyan Dag, a knight of Gloinmere, Thayne Ysse, heir to the throne in the North Islands, Melanthos, a baker's daughter in Skye and Sel, the baker.
The plot is complex and confusing, but if you are willing to not know any more than the characters and try to figure it out yourself, you will love it. Mckillip doesn't give you all the answers, she makes you think before you can find them.
The basic plot is that the king of Gloinmere has married a lady from Skye, but Cyan has reason to think that she is not who she seems to be. The real lady has been imprisoned in a tower in Skye and the Bard of Skye (she helps Cyan figure this all out) sends him off to rescue her.
Meanwhile, in the North Islands, Thayne's father has sent him off to find another tower in Skye. This one is supposed to have a dragon guarding it and treasure within. They want to use this treasure to build an army and free the islands from Gloinmere.
Thayne and Cyan meet several times on their quests and Thayne thinks that Cyan is trying to find the treasure tower too. They both wind up there eventually and Thayne masters the dragon and almost kills Cyan. However, he stops himself at the end because he realizes that Cyan saved his brother in a long ago battle. Cyan also meets the Bard's sister.
In the baker's house, other events are going on. Melanthos goes to a tower everyday with a mirror that shows her stories. She embroiders the stories and lets the wind take her work. However, these keep ending up in strange places. Her mother, Sel, is also drawn to the tower, but she is making something entirely different.
These stories all eventually meet up and come together in the end. I won't spoil it for you by giving away what the truth of everyone's situation is, but the three mysterious sisters are identified and we finally know some of the secrets of the three towers. The resolution still leaves you with a lot of questions, but it makes you think about what the story is really about.
One interesting thing in this book is that there are no villains. Mckillip's characters are not two-dimensional "good" or "bad" characters. You find yourself rooting for all of them, in different ways. One other thing I'd like to mention: there is an actual place called Skye. It's in Scottish history, if you've ever heard of Culloden or anything. In reality it's an island, and the one in the book isn't, but I thought it was an interesting coincidence.
Anyway, I really liked this book and I would highly recommend it to any fantasy lovers who don't mind books that aren't clear cut. Mckillip's beautiful prose more than makes up for that. As she says, "We embroider our days. Life weaves." So embroider your day by reading this book, it will leave you in awe.
... Read more

8. Alphabet Of Thorn
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 304 Pages (2005-02-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.94
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441012434
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

One of the most spectacular fantasists of our time, Patricia A. McKillip creates fairy tale worlds of wonder and magic. Now, she opens the page on a time and place where an orphan girl is haunted by thorns, a reluctant queen rules between sea and sky, and epics never end.Amazon.com Review
Patricia A. McKillip is one of America's greatest fantasy authors. Her best known novels include Riddle-Master; World Fantasy Award winner The Forgotten Beasts of Eld; World Fantasy Award and Mythopoeic Award winner Ombria in Shadow; and In the Forests of Serre. Like its predecessors, Alphabet ofThorn demonstrates McKillip's mastery of prose and her knowledge of the human heart.

As an infant, Nepenthe was abandoned by her mother on the edge of a cliff so high no one can hear the sea below. Nepenthe was raised by the librarians of the Royal Library of Raine, and knows little of the outside world beyond what she reads. She has a gift for translation, and she alone has a chance of translating a newly arrived book, a mysterious tome written in an alien alphabet that resembles thorns. But Nepenthe has fallen in love with the high-born student-mage who brings her the book. And the thorns are exerting a strange power over her--a magic that may destroy not only Nepenthe, but the kingdom of Raine and the entire world. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (37)

3-0 out of 5 stars A solid introduction
Her newest book, and my first experience of her. I liked it. How could I not, really, it prominently features librarians! I also found the importance of names and writing very appealing. Basically it's about an orphan who is adopted by librarians (much better than being raised by wolves!) and raised as a translator. When she's 16 she "finds" a book that seems to only speak to her. It was a little predictable, but I'm going to give some of her other books a try.

5-0 out of 5 stars A tale of magic and mystery
This is a beautiful and enchanting book. In a kingdom high above the sea, in a library clinging to the sea cliffs beneath a queen's palace, a young librarian works at translating an ancient book written in an unknown alphabet. Gradually, the ancient book reveals it story - that of the love between an emperor who conquered the world and the sorceress who accompanied him into every battle.

McKillip skillfully weaves together this 3000-year-old tale of love and war with the story of the present Kingdom of Raine, its inexperienced queen, its mages and rebellious nobels, and its own legendary warrior-queen waking from her dream in the caves beneath the palace. At the heart of this book - the thing that will keep you turning pages - is the mystery of the librarian herself.

This book has everything I love to find in a fantasy novel - magic, mystery and danger, love and sacrifice, beautiful language, and interesting characters, including heroic women.

I only wish the book hadn't ended so abruptly. The story was so engaging that I was sad to reach the end. I would have liked to hear more about the characters, and what happened to them after the book's main narrative dilemma was resolved.

4-0 out of 5 stars amazing writer
i think that this is one of the better written books i've had an opportunity to come in contact with, her writing style is just amazing. i mean, no offence, but the plot is not the most fascinating i've come across... it's focus is on a librarian who's trying to translate a book written in some foreign language. kind of dry sounding. but the author does a phenomenal job at capturing a sense of passion and obsession that one can't help but get drawn in to.

my one complaint about this author in general is that her books are kind of detached from the reader, distant in a way. it's not so much that i don't care about what happens, but that i'm just not given enough information to be able to assess the situation in depth. on the other hand, this quality gives a lot of her books an air of mystery and unpredictability. like the detachment you feel on a rainy day, where things are kind of surreal and you don't feel quite connected to the world, feeling like you're interacting with the world from another place, not your own body. so while this is a negative, in certain moods i do enjoy it because of that almost dream like approach. unique to be sure.

5-0 out of 5 stars "She Has No Idea What Brute Force and Subtleties Can Hold a Realm Together..."
Once again Patricia McKillip crafts a wonderful story, and although I must admit that I haven't read all of her novels, I think it's safe to say that "Alphabet of Thorn" is one of her best works. Out of her many books I *have* read, this one is definitely my favourite. Her beautiful language, her startling imagery, her intricate plot, her mind-twisting ideas...all come together in this stunning story.

In a beautiful cliff-top palace by the sea (so high that one cannot hear the ocean from the top) a coronation is taking place for the young and inexperienced Queen Tessera. Delegates and dignitaries from the Twelve Crowns (the term given to the divided countries that rule under the Queen's supervision) have come to bestow their blessing - and their judgments - on the new Queen. Tessera is in a precarious situation, as any number of her new subjects could take this opportunity to overthrow the monarchy and establish themselves as high-ruler of Raine.

But beneath all the pomp and colour, dug deep into the cliff, is the royal library, where scholars and librarians go about their business out of sight of the bustle above. Nepenthe is a young foundling, raised by the librarians and now working as a transcriptor in the underground library when she travels to the nearby floating school of wizardry to fetch a book that needs translating. But as soon as she has the mysterious book in her hands, one that is written in a twisted language of thorns, she finds herself transfixed. Slowly she begins to translate the strange text, uncovering the history of the Emperor Axis and his sorcereress/lover Kane (I only wish McKillip had given them better names).

Axis was obsessed with conquering, and Kane was obsessed with him: together the two swept across their world, and in translating the text, Nepenthe is swept up in their tale. She is hardly aware of the political machinations going on above-ground, though she is slightly more attentive toward Bourne, the young wizard in training (unfortunately part of a treasonous family) who delivers her the book. But what compels Nepenthe to translate the book, how will it finish, and what does it have to do with the trouble brewing in Raine?

I'll say this as simply as possible: this is a terrific book, with an intricate plot and a great twist mid-way through. Newcomers to McKillip's style can sometimes be a bit off-put by the language, and when I first discovered McKillip it took me a while to get used to the fact that the story was often hidden behind the dense use of language. But the more of McKillip you read, the more you get used to it, and I found "Alphabet of Thorn" compulsive reading. Every chapter I finished, I couldn't wait to get to the next one. There are a couple of unnecessary quirks - I couldn't understand Bourne's presence at the wizard-school (simply because McKillip doesn't explore the rules of magic-users in this world; leading me to wonder why every country didn't send their kids into the school to learn how to use useful magic that can be used in their favour) and the romance between Bourne and Nepenthe wasn't entirely convincing.

But those are minor quibbles, and do nothing to affect the flow of the story. There are so many good ideas packed into this book that a less-gifted author would have probably split them up into several different books. I loved the parallel between the darkness of the subterranean library and the bustle of the palace, as well as the intricate political maneuvering that Tessera must negotiate (including the prickly relationship between herself and her deceased father's old advisor Vevay, who doesn't think Tessera has the mettle to rule). Then there's the way McKillip plays with the mutability of history and legend, plus it never ceases to amaze me at how McKillip can take a simple image, for example, a folded cloth - and form an entire theme around it. If you want to know how, you're just going to have to read the book! If I say anymore, I'll just end up giving away the entire plot - so get your hands on it.

4-0 out of 5 stars "It shapes your heart; you can hide nothing from it..."
Another great book from McKillip - a fairytale with a very natural warmth.The whole turning of the tricks and traps as lost legends move through time on their conquest of the present is handled skillfully.The pain you feel even for the coming conquerors who have their own sorrows that drive them - McKillip brushed on all details with amazing detail and concern for the characters. ... Read more

9. Riddle-Master
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 592 Pages (1999-03-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$9.21
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441005969
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

For over twenty years, Patricia A. McKillip has captured the hearts and imaginations of thousands of readers. And although her renowned Riddle-Master trilogy--The Riddle-Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, and Harpist in the Wind--has been long out of print, it is considered her most enduring and beloved work. Now it is collected in one volume for the first time--the epic journeys of a young prince in a strange land, where wizards have long since vanished...but where magic is waiting to be reborn. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (123)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Fantasy Properly Done
This is a book that I read some time ago, but have put for which I have spent some time avoiding writing a review. The reason is the idea that I may not be able to correctly capture the beauty and complexity of the storylines. I do not have a background in literature and poetry to undergird my attempts to write a review here as I do a background in studying philosophy to help me write a review for some other books. This book is *that* beautiful, yes.

The storyline is hard to describe without giving away too many spoilers. The main details are that the world is divided into a number of countries, with the hereditary ruler having the control, via a psychic link of sorts, over his or her land. They are called Land-rulers, and they gain their "Land Law" from a mythical being known as "The High One". Morgon, the land-ruler of the smallest, and least important region, was born with stars adorning his head. The High One's harpist, Deth, sets Morgon on a path with his destiny that will change the world forever.

The narrative is filled with the most stunning, beautiful imagery in almost any piece of literature, short of works by L. M. Montgomery, C. S. Lewis, or J. R. R. Tolkien. It is not merely a descriptive feast for the senses, however, it includes detailed characters, cliff-hangers, and a rather complicated plot that the author *still* manages to pull off successfully in the end.

The story is a trilogy, and I am read and reviewed a combined omnibus edition. I recommend that any potential readers either get an omnibus edition, or read the books back to back. While not quite as seamlessly connected a narrative as, say, *The Lord of the Rings*, it is clearly all one tale. It is only a trilogy in name only.

I heartily and enthusiastically recommend this moving, complex, thoughtful, and poetic, work of fiction, to readers of most any age.

4-0 out of 5 stars An intriguing tale
I really am intrigued by the tale. I am new to reading fantasy, but have been impressed by Patricia McKillip's Alphabet of Thorn so I thought I would give this a try. And I am not too terribly disappointed, the tale itself is great,the descriptions are decent, the settings imaginative and pique my curiosity. But the writing is not what I expected. I have been finding myself confused by what the characters say then follow it with melodramatic behavior. I first thought " oh OK I am just tired and not paying attention." but several times when I was awake and paying keen attention found that again I became confused and had to re-read a scene because it just didn't seem to fit with what the characters were discussing. I can't write it off as a different culture because there are no explanations for this odd behavior. I am happy with the story so I continue to read, but I'm not sure what to think of the over done behavior of the characters. Perhaps in the 70s melodramatic behavior of characters was acceptable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great series.Well worth reading.(I did more than once)
Still my favorite fantasy trilogy/series. I've read many many trilogies in 40+ years.Still have to rebuy this once a decade:)

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite series ever
I read this series every year or two, and have since I was about 13. The language and concepts are pure poetry. It should be made into a movie trilogy! It would be beautiful.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Characters Left Adrift in Too Many Words
I love fantasy novels, especially when I can look forward to a series of stories in which I can follow strong characters who I care about. The Riddle Master trilogy had some wonderfully drawn characters, but that's about it. The plot was confusing and vague, with the majority of the "action" happening within the protagonist's mind. Dialogue was hard to come by, and I often found myself re-reading passages to be clear about who was speaking, and to whom they spoke. Additionally, the long and loving descriptions of the air, the earth, and the feelings of the characters could have been reduced enough to make one long novel - with 3 acts. The essence of a good story is there, but it is so hard to find!

I'd give this 2 stars if I didn't know this was McKillip's first series, and hope that her future books grow from this point. ... Read more

10. Od Magic
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 320 Pages (2006-06-06)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.96
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441013341
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Brenden Vetch has a gift that connects him to the agricultural world, nurturing gardens to flourish and instinctively knowing the healing properties each plant and herb has to offer. Receiving a personal invitation from the wizard Od to become a gardener for her school in the great city of Kelior, he finds a home among every potential wizard who must be trained to serve the Kingdom of Numis. But unknown to the reigning monarchy is the power possessed by the school's new gardener-a power that even Brenden isn't fully aware of, and which is the true reason Od recruited him. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

3-0 out of 5 stars "Odd" when compared to McKillip's other works
I can't say that I disliked Od Magic. It was filled with many of McKillip's trademarks--lyrical prose, multi-dimensional characters, etc., but it didn't have as much conflict/tension as many of her other novels. The "bad" characters weren't entirely bad, they were simply a product of their environment. I suppose this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is different from everything else of hers that I've read. I still enjoyed reading the novel, and the story she told was good, it just wasn't in that life or death sort of way. Her novels typically aren't so didactic and obvious in the point they are trying to convey. If you haven't read anything else by her, don't let this one put you off. I am a big fan of her novels and short stories, so I don't feel that I wasted my time reading it or money (although I did happen upon my copy in a used book store). I highly recommend the Riddle Master of Hed trilogy, Alphabet of Thorn and The Changeling Sea (which is technically a young adult novel, but still great).

4-0 out of 5 stars A nice light read...
Although not the absolute best of Patricia A McKillip's work, this is still a good read.I enjoyed it and would certainly recommend it.It's a fairly light work, but the characters still have enough depth to be interesting.

3-0 out of 5 stars Very slow, very feminine
I am giving this book three stars, and I am not female. I say this because this story is so feminine that it might just not register in my thick headed brain. But... because I did read it, I am going to review it, and I just cant say that their was very much 'good' going for this story.

First of all, McKillip introduces what must have been 5 main characters, she slips from one to the next, and five is just too much. Its hard to get involved with a character if you only spend one out of five chapters with them.

Secondly, the story lines here are messed up in my mind. The whole premise here is based on flawed ideals that kind of bothered me... ok, 1st example, most of this story takes place around a wizards school, yet not one single bit of knowledge is passed from one wizard to another here. What does occur is that the wizards all seem to be able to teach themselves much better and faster than any school would provide for. The only thing the school seems to do is corrupt. 2nd, everything is so easily accomplished here, the writing is all mystical and ethereal, but all the effort is overcoming self doubt, when it comes time to do some magic, people seem to be able to do what ever they want when they want.

I feel like my hand has been played out for me here when it comes to the 3 stars I am giving this story. I probably would give it 1-2, but I feel a little sexist. Also I see all of these great reviews and wonder what someone else could have seen here. Maybe I missed something. All I can say for sure is that if you miss this book, you wont miss anything.

4-0 out of 5 stars "I Wanted What I Thought Was Magic..."
The city of Numis is home to the famous Od School of Magic, founded years ago by the legendary giantess Od. She's apparently immortal, but appears only occasionally, and therefore the school lies in the hands of the king Galin and the wizard-headmaster Valoren, who demand strict obedience from its students. Any unorthodox magic is outlawed, any student that step outside the boundaries set for them are expelled. This is especially true of any student who goes wandering in the Twilight Quarter of the city: a neighborhood that comes alive only after dark, a place of wild and uncontrollable magic that the king is determined to stifle.

This is particularly true when two new faces arrive in Kelior. One in a simple gardener named Brenden Vetch, sent by Od herself to the school in order to take up a position as a new gardener. His magical skill with plants is astonishing, as well as threatening to those who can't understand it. The second is a man called Tyramin (traveling with his daughter Mistral), a wandering magician who has gained a reputation in the city for magic tricks that go beyond the slight-of-hand expected of a mere showman. Between the two of them, the king and his administrators are worried.

Surrounding these two is a vast range of characters, each with their own opinions and agendas concerning the upheavals in the city. Arneth Pit is the restless son of a law enforcement official, instructed to keep the peace in the Twilight Quarter. It is he who is sent to investigate the newcomers and ascertain whether they are a threat to the crown or not (and falling in love with Tyramin's daughter in the process). Yar Ayrwood is a teacher at the school, sympathetic to students who feel constrained by the laws in place to limit their powers. His lover Ceta Thiel is compiling a history on the magic of Numis, and finds several intriguing references to old magic on the mountainside which seems to be linked with the secret labyrinth under the school. Lastly, (and most importantly) is Princess Sulys, restricted and restless with her life, concealing her own magical abilities, and dismayed to find that she's betrothed to the dour Valoren.

As with most of her stories, McKillip introduces a wide range of characters and their separate storylines, only to begin linking them together as the story progresses. As with Ombria in Shadow, there is no clear protagonist in "Od Magic" (the blurb concentrates on the gardener Brenden Vetch, but in fact this character is probably given the *least* amount of attention than any other character - in fact, McKillip seems to loose interest in him halfway through, giving us no resolution regarding his lost lover) and the story feels a little vague as a result. Even in an ensemble cast, there should be at least one-stand out to ground the reader. McKillip is usually very good at keeping her characters distinct, but in this case, I kept getting Yar and Arneth mixed up.

As another reviewer commented, it is a "mild" book. The stakes are not as high in "Od Magic" as it is in some of her novels: in this case there is not some evil villain to be overcome, or worlds needing to be saved, but rather an ideology that needs adjusting. Nothing too drastic happens, making "Od Magic" a story that is more meandering and less intense than most of McKillip's other novels. This time around McKillip explores the tension between the untamed magic of free-spirited characters, and the conformity and restrictions imposed on them by the state, acting out of fear and misunderstanding.

However, because we see so little of magic, and what we *do* see is so varied and unstructured, I'm not entirely sure what magic is meant to be a metaphor for (free speech? Individualism? Creativity?) or even if it is a metaphor at all. The two "rebels" in the story are a gardener and a performer - hardly instigators of any dangerous sedition, making the government look foolish for having targeted them.

But for argument's sake, what if they *had* been a threat to the safety of the populace? Shouldn't magic then have some sort of restrictions placed around it? When someone has the power to slay dragons or shape-shift, then there should be some sort of system in place to make sure such magic is not abused. Sometimes a little control (particularly self-control) is a good thing.

If this review sounds a little harsh, it is only because I'm measuring it against the excellence of McKillip's other novels. It's not a good place to start if you are new to McKillip, but it is lovely in its own way, particularly in McKillip's usual mastery of poetic-prose, and the unique world that she creates, particularly in the mysterious Twilight Quarter (if I was a student from the school, I doubt I could stay away from it either!) It is not her best book, but once again I applaud Patricia McKillip for doing what seems to be lost on many fantasists: she tells a story, with a beginning, middle and end. There are no endless sequels that need to be purchased in order to get the entire picture, just a rewarding tale to be enjoyed.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very Od tale
A great tale of magic, that drives the imagination. An original tale, even when compared to Harry Potter.

... Read more

11. Solstice Wood
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 288 Pages (2007-01-02)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$1.90
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441014658
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

The World Fantasy Award-winning author's foray into the modern world-now in paperback.

No stranger to the realms of myth and magic, World Fantasy Award-winning author Patricia A.McKillip presents her first contemporary fantasy in many years-a tale of the tangled lives mere mortals lead, when they turn their eyes from the beauty and mystery that lie just outside of the everyday...

When bookstore owner Sylvia Lynn returns to her childhood home in upstate New York, she meets the Fiber Guild-a group of local women who meet to knit, embroider, and sew-and learns why her grandmother watches her so closely. A primitive power exists in the forest, a force the Fiber Guild seeks to bind in its stitches and weavings. And Sylvia is no stranger to the woods ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars "You Are the Bridge Across Our Boundaries..."
"Solstice Wood" is a sequel (of sorts) to Patricia McKillip's earlier novel Winter Rose. The latter book is a dark and intricate fairytale based on the ballad of Tam Lin, in which a young girl attempts to free her love from the designs of a faerie-queen. Though still set in the mountains around Lynn Hall, "Solstice Wood" takes place hundreds of years later, in which contemporary men and women deal with the repercussions of Rois Melian's dealings with the fey-folk.

Sylvia Lynn has escaped her family and heritage to live in the city, but a phone call from her grandmother, informing her of her grandfather's death, calls her back home again. There she finds herself getting pulled ever-tighter into the tangled web of secrets, family problems, and ancient woods that surround her ancient home. As a direct descendant of Rois Melian, Sylvia is expected to embrace her past and her role as the heir of Lynn Hall, and she's introduced for the first time into the sewing circle known as Fiber Circle, a group of women who do much, *much* more than stitch patchwork quilts.

Like all of McKillip's novels, this is not a "fantasy" of the kind that involves magic swords, dark lords, or conflict between good and evil; yet it's also quite different from the fairy-tale nature of its predecessor. This is a story about a community who live on the verge of another world, sometimes intermingling with it, but always vaguely aware of its presence. The problems that arise are of a personal nature: a missing parent, a forbidden lover, a misunderstood duty. The confrontation is not a gung-ho battle, but something more subtle, more meaningful.

That's not to say that there isn't magic at work. Here you'll find changelings, undines, witches, and doorways to other words, all presented in McKillip's transcendent language. Each chapter flits between several characters, each one shedding new light on the proceedings and points of view - getting inside the changeling's head as it negotiates the strangeness of the human world is a particular treat! McKillip's rare use of first person-narrative means that her prose isn't quite as poetically dense as some of her other books, but there is beauty and humor here, and each character has a distinct voice that adds to the sense that the final resolution of the book is a joint-effort.

One doesn't have to have read "Winter Rose" in order to grasp what's going on; despite name-drops and the general theme, the two stories are completely different. In fact, "Solstice Wood" would be a good place to start a new reader onto her work as the prose is not so intimidating as some of her earlier novels, such as "Riddle Master". At the same time, it's a good chance for McKillip to amend some of the misconstructions of "Winter Rose": there, the realm of Faerie was a dark and dangerous place, now she has a chance to explore its more benevolent side is shown, particularly in the portrayal of the faerie queen. Previously she was cold and malevolent, now there's a chance to see her softer, summery side, and to realize that there's perhaps more to some of her more dubious actions than what appears.

"Solstice Wood" is a short book, in fact, vicarious readers may find themselves reading it in one sitting, but it's no less magical because of its length. Reading "Solstice Wood" is like enjoying a many-flavored ice-cream on a hot summer's day.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Enchanting Modern Day Fairy Tale
Sylvia practically ran from her home in rural New York, where she had been raised by her grandparents, the first chance she got, never looking back and always with an excuse as to why she couldn't return.The time for running is over now.Her grandfather has died, and Sylvia has no choice but to return to Lynn Hall, and to the searching eyes of her grandmother.Lynn Hall hides many mysteries, her grandmother keeper of them.Sylvia keeps her own secrets though, holding the answer to a mystery her whole village has been trying to answer since she was born.But now she must face not only the secrets that she and her grandmother hide, but also the dangers lurking in the woods behind Lynn Hall.The dangers that first compelled her to flee to her city of concrete on the other side of the country rather than face them for another day.

Patricia McKillip writes with a beautiful, lyrical quality.Her words have a haunting tone, almost poetic, filled with depth and emotion.She doesn't just write, she paints a picture in prose.I haven't been able to get one such sentence out of my mind."Then I heard Owen's sonorous voice, quoting Tennyson - From the great deep, to the great deep he goes - and I wanted to wail like a winter wind and sit by myself in a blizzard until I was covered with snow and no one could find me again."The words are filled with such raw emotion, that I couldn't help but feel them, experience them myself.I wish I could better express how highly I think of her ability to compose words into something greater than a simple story.It's entirely understandable why she has won several awards, including the 1997 Mythopoeic Award for this novel.

Beyond her impressive skill at setting pen to paper, McKillip has created a very enjoyable modern day fairy tale.I'm always fascinated by any fairy tale, be it old or new.I'm particularly impressed that she took a more traditionalist approach to it.McKillip's fairies aren't the cute little creatures with wings like Disney's Tinkerbell.Instead she has drawn upon history, sketching us a portrait of them that ancient people would recognize.One in which faires are dark and dangerous creatures who are for more likely to lure a child into the woods and replace them with a changeling than sprinkle you with pixie dust so that you can follow the second star on the right.

This wasn't an overly long novel at 277 pages.Normally when I read novels of this length, I find myself wanting more.I admit that I'm a sucker for long novels, wordy and descriptive.This time I have to say I don't feel shortchanged at all.The length was perfect.The writing beautiful.The story enchanting.I can't ask for much more than that.

5-0 out of 5 stars fun read
I really enjoyed this book.It's an interesting twist on the typical fairy tale lore, mixing in modern times with myth.The plot does seem to resolve rather quickly and simply at the end, but nonetheless it is still a whimsical book and a good way to spend an afternoon reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars Quixotic fae, quixotic human hearts
Sylvia Lynn left her family years before, moving to a different coast to get away from the troubling aspects of her own past, and from the grandmother who raised her. Called home by the death of her beloved grandfather, she is drawn into the strange workings of the Fiber Guild, a group of magical women who literally stitch, knit, and crochet a web of protection around their little town. Sylvia must confront the dual nature of this protection, as well as her own duality, when she is forced to go up against the fae to rescue someone she loves.

This is a contemporary fantasy about complicated love, complicated families, and the quixotic nature of the fae. A modern day sequel to Ms. McKillip's historic fantasy, Winter Rose, it's beautifully written, and full of humor, mystery, tension. Ms. McKillip's wonderful understanding of the human heart--which is, after all, just as quixotic as the fae--blends well with fantastical and near-hallucinatory passages. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Winter Rose Conclusion
I liked this novel.It was a good followup to Winter Rose set in modern times around the last heir of Lynn.Familiar settings, interesting characters, satisfactory conclusion to me.I did get lost a bit due to McKillip's extensive use of First Person.Had to keep stopping and get my context back.Still, they're both keepers and I'll probably re-read them in the future. ... Read more

12. Winter Rose
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 272 Pages (2002-06-04)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$3.85
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441009344
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

When Corbet Lynn returns home to rebuild his family's estate, his grandfather's curse is rekindled-and lures a free spirited woman from the woods that border Lynn Hall.

"Weaves a dense web of desire and longing, human love and inhuman need." (Publishers Weekly)

"The prose is impeccable, the story memorable, and the characters admirable." (Science Fiction Chronicle)Amazon.com Review
Winter Rose begins as the seemingly simple story ofRois and Laurel Melior and their understandable fascination with youngCorbet Lynn, returned to rebuild his abandoned ancestral home, LynnHall. Laurel is drawn to Corbet's beauty, Rois to the mystery of hispast. But the past holds more than one mystery, and as Rois fights herway into the wood around Lynn Hall, seeking answers for herself,Laurel, and Corbet, she risks losing everything, for all of them,forever.

Traces of Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market, of Tam Lin, and of adozen other legends and tales color Rois's story. Patricia McKillip'sconsummate mastery of language means that every word counts in acomplex, sweetly painful story of human love and timeless, indifferentpower. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (73)

5-0 out of 5 stars ...a silver cup...to drink the rose floating in the well...
Long have I been a fan of Patricia McKillip.I started reading her work in high school and have never looked back.Her prose is beautiful, full of vivid imagery and secrets.It is a language uniquely suited to the realms of fantasy, mysterious and as alluring as the magic she writes about.Winter Rose is one of my favorites, and I have read it many times over.Each time I take something new and meaningful away with me when I do.

Winter Rose is the story of a young woman, Rois, who is as wild and unfettered as the winds and woods she adores.Her sister Laurel is just the opposite, level headed, sensible, and very human.They live together with their father in a farmhouse occupied for generations by their family.Her father is kind and loving, and never thinks about things which might be beyond the world he lives in.

One day, while wandering in the woods she loves, Rois witnesses Corbet Lynn's arrival in a fall of light.At first, he is a mystery, a curiosity, but to the villagers, he wears the face of a tragedy remembered best by the oldest in the village.Corbet is a man living under a curse.His father murdered his grandfather, and with the grandfather's dying breath, he curses the father and all those who come after, or so the story goes.As with many such tales, which specific curse is never identified.

Rois and Laurel soon fall under Corbet's spell.Rois is facinated with Corbet's shadowy past, but the further she delves into it, the more frightening it becomes.Laurel is not sure what about Corbet so draws her, but when events culminate and Corbet becomes trapped in the Winter Queen's world, Laurel begins to walk the path her mother took, and starts wasting away.Rois must discover the truth, free Corbet, and release her sister before she becomes a ghost in that deadly world.

Winter Rose is a great read, mysterious, alluring, and magical, that explores the otherworldy which just might be living in the woods past your back door.I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to go beyond the ordinary into the realm that is uniquely Patricia McKillip's.

5-0 out of 5 stars McKillip's best.
I love Patricia McKillip's writing. That bald statement doesn't do the depth of my feeling justice, but there it lies. She turns the simplest statement into poetry, creating exquisite images that shimmer before the mind's eye long after the book has been closed; she imbues the whole world with magic, drawing forth colors unimaginable from the stark black text on a white page.

It is possible that Winter Rose is her best book. Where normally her prose creates just the slightest distance, separating the reader from the actions described, the prose in Winter Rose is immediate, urgent, driving. Where normally her characters are just a little bit of a cipher, subject to motivations just the tiniest bit outside human ken, here her characters are warmly, achingly human. And where normally I finish one of her novels awed and melancholy and delighted, I finished Winter Rose wanting to scream.

She does all this by a simple change in perspective.

Normally, McKillip writes in a tight third-person perspective, shifting between characters at the chapter breaks. It is this that creates just the little bit of distance, this that keeps her characters ciphers. It gives her scope, for she often writes novels where the characters start spread across the map and only come together during the climax; but it does lessen the emotional punch. In Winter Rose, however, she is concerned with only one character: Rois Melior, the wild child of wood and water and bramble. Given that narrowing of focus, McKillip wisely delivers an arrestingly beautiful first-person perspective, gifting Rois with all of McKillip's own skill at seeing showers of gold in a summer sunbeam and the Wild Hunt coursing across a windblown sky. From the very first page that "I" makes Rois as ethereally flawless as McKillip's prose.

And that was why I wanted to scream at the conclusion of her tale. From the very first page I took Rois to my heart and I did not want to let her go -- and the ending McKillip weaves for her, enigmatic and difficult as always, cut me to the bone. It is, by fairy tale standards, a happy ending; but she deserved so much more.

Oh, you wanted to know about the plot? Well, it's a mixture of The Snow Queen and Tam Lin, and either I've gotten better at deciphering McKillip's climaxes or this is a remarkably coherent one. It is also about the stain that child abuse spreads through a family, and that element is handled so deftly that it is far more heartbreaking than anything more preachy could be.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Patricia McKillip's writing style had me captivated from the very first sentence. If I wrote, I would want to write with her style. I could totally relate to the characters, and the setting Patricia created seemed so real that I wanted to just crawl into the novel. It's for sure one of those books that makes you wonder around in a daze for a few days afterwards just almost drunk with the beauty of Winter Rose's prose.

My all time favorite book...I can't recommend it enough!

4-0 out of 5 stars A breathless hallucination
This is a beautifully written, near-hallucinatory little novel, almost breathless in its telling of the story of a young man, Corbet Lynn, who returns to the ruins of his ancestral home, Lynn Hall, and starts to rebuild. There's a village rumor of a family curse, a dying man's words no one can quite remember the same way, as if the words and the memories shift with each retelling. One winter Corbet's grandfather was murdered by his son, Tearle--Corbet's father--who then disappeared without a trace and without leaving any footprints in the snow. Corbet denies the curse and the murder, says his father still lives, but is deeply mysterious about his own past, intriguing the village further. But for Rois Meillor, the free-spirited farmer's daughter who narrates the story and happened to be in the woods the day Corbet first showed up, the mystery goes deeper. She saw him materialize out of a cloud of light riding a horse the color of buttermilk. She becomes obsessed with solving his mysteries, which ultimately leads her to her own truths about family, love, and the nature of reality. Really quite a luminous piece of writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars "I Bequeath All to the Woods..."
The first time I read Patricia McKillip, I didn't get very far. The book was the Riddle-Master, and I was completely unprepared for her complex use of language. But there must have been something in her style that intrigued me, because I tracked down "Winter Rose" not long afterwards, and since then have been a big fan of all her work. Out of all Patricia McKillip's books (at least the ones I've read) "Winter Rose" is perhaps the most opaque. McKillip's language has always been eloquent and atmospheric, often obscuring both plot and characterization, but in this case the plot *itself* is also rather vague and ambiguous. Based on the ballad of Tam Lynn, this is a dreamy and mysterious tale of family secrets, unrequited love and the allure of faerie.

At the risk of making this book sound boring, there is little in the way of plot in "Winter Rose". Moving in and out of the domestic circle and what may or may not be lucid dreams, the unprepared reader might be surprised at how little action there is. Instead, "Winter Rose" is a mystery that must be unfurled - not just in the understanding of the central figure in the story (the stranger on his buttermilk horse), but in the protagonist's understanding of her own being.

Rois and Laurel Melior are sisters, and yet complete opposites. Whereas fair-headed Laurel is beautiful, sensible, kind-hearted and thoroughly domesticated, younger sister Rois is wild and free-spirited, liable to wander in the woods for hours at a time. They live with their father in a humble farmhouse, but while Laurel is engaged to marry her childhood sweetheart, Rois has no interest whatsoever in affairs of the heart. That is, until the day Corbet Lynn steps out of the shadows in order to reclaim his ancestral home and restore it to its former glory.

Right from the start Corbet causes a stir among the village. There are rumours and whispers surrounding his lineage: that Corbet's father killed his grandfather, and that with his dying breath, Nial Lynn cursed all future generations. Of course, what exactly this curse entails changes from storyteller to storyteller, but Rois can sense that there is more to the enigmatic Corbet than what he lets on in casual conversation. Though he seems to be a benevolent figure, his presence among them is soon causing trouble. Capturing the hearts of both sisters, Laurel begins to waste away (as did the girls' mother long ago) whilst Rois is drawn into his dangerous fey-like world in which a dangerous queen holds sway.

Touchingly, the bond between the sisters is never sacrificed, even when both are aware of each other's feelings for Corbet. Rois proves herself a pure and selfless heroine when she takes measures to save Corbet - partly for the sake of her sister's life, and with full knowledge that in doing so, she might not win his love in return.

As always, McKillip's style is filled with dense imagery and symbolism, perhaps more so in this book than any other. Her creation of winter is particularly evocative: I think it will make you feel a little chilly even when reading it on the warmest summer day! But as I said earlier, the plot of this story is borderline-incomprehensible. Rois travels in and out of dreams and hallucinations, and is never quite sure what is real and what isn't. Come the conclusion, neither is the reader. For the record, this is not a bad thing. I have no doubt that it was in fact McKillip's intention, and the mystery that it creates (in keeping with the theme of secrets and illusions) makes it thought-provoking as opposed to frustrating. At least, it did for me, and what with such dreamy prose throughout, it would be rather foolish to expect anything other than an ambiguous ending.

One minor pet peeve of mine was the name "Rois." Given the emphasis on roses throughout the story, I assumed that the name of the main character was meant to be pronounced "rose." But the odd spelling meant that I kept hearing it as "Royce," rhymes with "Joyce". After a while, it kinda got on my nerves. Couldn't the girl just be called "Rose"?

But that's (obviously) very minor. On the whole, this is one of McKillip's most successful novels; full of magic and mystery. Certainly not for everyone, but those who take the time to read it thoughtfully - and perhaps even more than once - will be amply rewarded.
... Read more

13. In The Forests Of Serre
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 304 Pages (2004-06-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$1.49
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441011578
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

In the tales of World Fantasy Award-winning author Patricia McKillip, nothing is ever as it seems. A mirror is never just a mirror; a forest is never just a forest. Here, it is a place where a witch can hide in her house of bones and a prince can bargain with his heart...where good and evil entwine and wear each others' faces... and where a bird with feathers of fire can quench the fiercest longing...Amazon.com Review
Like Ursula K. Le Guin and Jane Yolen, World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip (author of Riddle-Master, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and Ombria in Shadow) is one of the great fantasy authors working at the turn of the millennium. In her beautifully written novel In the Forests of Serre, McKillip again demonstrates her intimate understanding of the mysteries of magic and the human heart.

Everyone in the kingdom of Serre avoids the Mother of All Witches, an ugly, powerful, and dangerous woman who lives in the Forest of Serre. But then the grief-blinded Prince of Serre rides down the witch's white hen and earns her curse. Prince Ronan believes nothing can be worse than what he has already experienced: the death of his wife and their newborn. But soon the curse destroys what little the prince has left, and he wanders lost and half-mad through the Forest of Serre, pursuing a beautiful, elusive firebird that may be an illusion, or his doom. His only hope may be the young Princess Sidonie of Dacia, to whom his brutal father betrothed him against his will... and hers. But Princess Sidonie may have no interest in helping a man she's never met. And her powerful, mysterious magician-guardian, Gyre, has secret intentions and desires of his own. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Fairy Tale
Set in a world where stories and dreams become real, In the Forests of Serre is a beautifully told fairy tale, complete with a beautiful (and strong) princess, a cursed broken-hearted prince, a wily wizard and an ogre of a king. The story draws you in, and just as Gyre fell in love with the magic of Serre, it's easy to be transported there for a time while reading McKillip's lovely prose.

Well drawn characters and a steady pace keep the story going to a magical end. Recommended for those who never outgrew their childhood love of fairy tales, and for teens who are ready to graduate beyond the usual YA fare.

5-0 out of 5 stars Patricia McKillip's writing is magical
The story is a fairy tale, but there is nothing simplistic in this story, instead you are drawn into enchantment yourself and begin to realize that every story, every archetype is a means to understanding one self.A prince who has lost his family, runs from love and finds himself enchanted.A KIng who desires power doesn't realize that in seeking nothing but power, he is no longer a King, but a troll.A princess seeking to protect her people seems merely enchanting, until she risks all for love.A magician who is sent to protect, misuses his power and learns more about himself.

Read it for the prose, read it for the descriptions, read it for the plot, read it for the characters.You too will be enchanted.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good read
I do like Patricia McKillip's books - she hasn't disappointed me nor my daughters yets.We are always glad to find one we haven't read before.This book has a lot of characters in it and one wonders how there is going to be completion, but Ms. McKillip does it for us.There are surprises also - who and what is the witch - is she just evil?How important are hearts?If you like McKillip you will like this one too.

5-0 out of 5 stars A keeper
My first 2010 review is about my last reading of 2009: In The Forests Of Serre by Patricia A. McKillip, another fairytale retold directed preferably to young adults. According to my Google research there are several versions and adaptations of this Russian tale involving the firebird, but the premise is always the same: this creature beyond wonderful, with all its supreme beauty, mystery and unreachability, symbolizes, invariably, a demand. But in In The Forests Of Serre there isn'tonly a prince, wandering through the forest trying to catch a bird of fire, while a beautiful princess makes her appearance at the end of story as the prize for the hunter and they both live happily everafter. No, in In The Forests Of Serre, we do have a prince wandering the forest deluded by the firebird's excellence, and its singing, but also and especially, we have a poor guy disturbed by the recent deaths both of his wife and newborn baby. And as if that wasn't enough, Ronan, the prince, is caught in the enchantment of the old witch who inhabits a hut made of human bones in the forest, and the tasks he has to complete to get out of it seem unattainable. And if at the beginning Ronan had nothing to continue to live for,this meeting with Brume, the witch, will, against all odds, make him wake to life and smell the morning air, because Sidonie, the beautiful princess, enters in action, and they are a funny duet to watch. Among other characters, I have to praise the wizard Gyre, who starts by having a neutral role, then awakens the wrath (or consent) of the reader, as that third person who threats a possible love story, only to win our good thoughts again both with his intangibility, like the firebird itself, which is always appropriate in these cases where innocent princes and princesses need help to escape from evil witches; and with his pragmatism, which I dare to set as hilarious. With an extremely beautiful, coherent, satirical and addictive writing style, McKillip is definitely a keeper.
With an extremely beautiful, coherent, satirical and addictive writing style, McKillip is definitely a keeper.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lovers of good fantasy, wake up and start cheering
Here's a real find! The characters are strongly drawn and very contrasting - best of all is the one-eyed king, I just can't forget about him. The plot winds through unpredictable bends before reaching a satisfying conclusion. McKillip's tale creates a tapestry of riches and colour very much like the beautiful cover-art by KY Craft. The book has well-defined male and female pro- and antagonists. In fact, it's amazing how many interweaving storylines McKillip manages to pack into a relatively short book, all the time maintaining her dream-like atmosphere and her compelling storyline.
... Read more

14. Fool's Run
by Patricia A. Mckillip
Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1988-02-01)
list price: US$4.95 -- used & new: US$24.95
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0445205180
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (8)

2-0 out of 5 stars After years of trying to finish...
I've picked this book up multiple times the past couple of years and somehow could NEVER get past the third chapter. I'm not sure if I was just very determined this time, but I was shocked to discover that the book is sectioned into three parts. If you can get past the first section (Queen of Hearts) the last two are more entertaining. I found myself actually wanting to find out the mystery behind Terra Viridian's Visions. There isn't really a payoff at the end and a relationship between two characters is never fully explored. I guess since this book is such a departure from her usual fare, it's worth a glance for the curious. But truthfully it has put me in the mood to read Stephen R. Donaldson's Gap Cycle again.

2-0 out of 5 stars big Mckillip fan but not of this book
Patricia Mckillip is a beautiful writer. Her stories are told with grace and style. Her characters are compelling. Many of her plots offer some refreshing angle or perspective on a tired theme. So I was shocked when I failed to engage with this book. I thought it must be a fluke and re-read it. No luck the second time either. I guess female musicians and her twin sister soldier plus the mysterious twin bond isn't compelling. That's it. Anymore than that and from my point of view there won't be any reason at all to read the book. If you are a Mckillip fan, this might be one you get from the library before you decide purchase.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great story
This novel exemplifies everything wise and wonderful in McKillip's art.There's a plot, a mystery (which the Editorial Review on this page annoyingly solves--don't read it!), memorable characters, lyrical prose, and a kind of clarity that much of her recent work seems to lack.I loved Fool's Run when it came out, and I still love re-reading it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A vision of light
"Fool's Run" is one of the many good books written by Patricia McKillip prior to her current run of fantasy novels. It's definitely worth reprinting, and hopefully it will be sometime.

Terra Viridian is a young woman on a colony, who sees a vision and destroys fifteen hundred people with a laser rifle. Deemed insane and dangerous, she lapses into a waking coma and is sentenced to live in an orbital prison called the Underworld. There, she spends seven years stuck in her strange, inhuman vision of light.

Seven years later, she is subjected to the experimental dream machine, and for the first time other people see her seemingly insane visions. A man named Aaron Fisher searches for the long-lost sister of Terra Viridian, after his pregnant wife was killed by Terra. Elsewhere, a band of cubers come to the Constellation Club; one of them is the enigmatic Magician, and the other is the Queen of Hearts, a beautiful woman with heart pins in her red hair and a golden mask hiding her face -- and her tragic past. But there is a connection between the Queen of Hearts and Terra Viridian. And when the vision touches the Magician as well, he and his friends set out to find what it is that made Terra kill those people, and what dreams of light.

As with her fantasy books, Patricia McKillip falls into no plot cliches. Though this space opera contains some elements that all SF books have to some degree, there's a fantastical bent to it all, and a lack of the usual parts such as aliens, ultra-powerful ships, and so on. This is a story where you can't predict what is out there, and can't guess what and why.

The characters start out as enigmas and gradually unfold in front of the reader. We have Aaron Fisher, the man tormented by his lost love; the beautiful Queen of Hearts, who is determined to keep her past a secret until it becomes vitally important; Terra Viridian, a hollow-eyed prisoner locked in her dream for years, until she has to wake up; and the Magician, perhaps my favorite character, who is in some ways the most mysterious and entertaining person in the whole book.

The writing is starker than her fantasy books, except in the last fourth of it; there we have the dreamy beauty of language that McKillip is famous for. She balances it nicely, as such language would be totally out of place in a grubby bar than out in the stars over an alien planet. We are also treated to more of McKillip's musings on revenge, loss, and forgiveness. There is some innuendo unsuitable for kids, but this is fine for teens and adults.

One of the most original SF books I've read...

4-0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth re-issuing
I came to Patricia McKillip's science fiction from her fantasy and was immediately hooked by the tale of two sisters, one of them a musician and the other, a visionary, mad-dog killer.The musical imagery was especiallyevocative in this story of a futuristic Orpheus a.k.a. the Queen of Hearts,who rescues her sister from the Underworld (an orbiting penal colony).Thekiller sister, Terra Viridian comes to the best end possible, after wediscover why she killed fifteen hundred of her fellow soldiers.Thatmystery is the heart and plot of the book.

"Fool's Run" isbeautifully written, with characters that are drawn with the precision ofdiamond on glass.All of them are totally transparent; totally innocent. I ached for all of them, especially for Terra Viridian.The ending isunsettled. The King of the Underworld gives up his throne and joins theQueen of Hearts' band---a superficially happy conclusion.But the thingthat was responsible for the deaths of fifteen hundred soldiers is nowwatching them from orbit. ... Read more

15. Song for the Basilisk
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 320 Pages (1999-12-01)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$45.00
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441006787
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

As a child, Rook had been taken in by the bards of Luly, and raised as one of their own.Of his past he knew nothing--except faint memories of fire and death that he'd do anything to forget.But nightmares, and a new threat to the island that had become his own, would not let him escape the dreaded fate of his true family.Haunted by the music of the bards, he left the only home he knew to wander the land of the power-hungry basilisk who had destroyed his family.And perhaps, finally, to find a future in the fulfillment of his forgotten destiny. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars Haunting and beautiful
In a previous review, E. A. Lovitt described McKillip's text as a "beautiful, but dense thicket", and is absolutely spot on.

I find it interesting that most of the reviews here recommend beginning with a different McKillip book.Not knowing any different, I started with this one - and fell in love.I fell in love so deeply, I bought several copies and sent them to friends.

The prose is poetry and one has to search through the text to find the meaning.It took me a good few chapters to catch on.Reading the second and third times brought further clarity.I think you could read this book over and over and find nuances that you'd missed before.

I'm dying to know if there is a sequel to this book.I SO wanted *something* to sort itself out between Rook and Luna.I'm left hanging, and it's uncomfortable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Muscial Writing
This book is absolutely poetic as far as fantasy novels are concerned.I love how the author turns the very act of creating music into a form of magic that can actively save or destroy.The ending was mice, as well, and a surprise for me, at least.For "young audience" writing, this is very good, and I would reccomend it to gifted children who are interested in fantasy.Where some books aren't up to scratch in the department of not talking down to the readers, this book is well written.I'm very impressed with "Song for the Basilisk" and I've put this author on my "Must Read More" list because of it.I can only hope her other works live up to the standards of this one.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not one of McKillip's best
I have recently read quite a bit of McKillip's books, and I have liked or loved all of them. This one, however, didn't grap me. First of all, there were far to many disturbing descriptions of fire, burned houses, burned people. Unless you are a pyromaniac, I really don't think you would enjoy it all that much. However, it does describe a city under the grip of a tyrant very well. I also found the plot a little confusing. Normally, McKillip's books are written about unusual ides, they make you think. This book was your typical revenge story, written in a McKillip style.

Caladrius's (He has many names, but we'll call him that here) family was burned by the tyrant ruler in the city. You see, there were four ruling houses, Caladrius was from Tormalyne House, which was fighting with Pellior house, ruled by the Basilisk. Caladrius is rescued from the ruins and spirited away to an island where he learns music. He tries to forget his past, but by the time he reaches about 40, he can no longer hide from it. He goes searching for his forgotten identity, finds it, and then goes back for revenge on the Basilisk.

The ending isn't really clear either. I was left with too many questions. If you are a veteran McKillip reader and like all of her books, I would still recommend this as a pretty good, if tiring read. However, if you are looking to try a Mckillip book for the first time, I would recommend something clearer and lighter, perhaps The Changeling Sea (my all-time favorite of hers). Happy reading!

4-0 out of 5 stars McKillip's prose is her music
While the plot may seem standard (exile comes back to his homeland to reclaim/set right his heritage), McKillip wraps original layers to move the story. Her understanding of music is solid from both sides-both Griffin's, and the teacher, Giulia.Ultimately, the greatest lesson of the book comes not from music, but from the one thing never covered in fantasy-the power of forgivness.

1-0 out of 5 stars What was she thinking?
I have been reading fantasy for 50 years, and this was one of the worst.Flowery literary style simply doesn't compensate for a plodding plot.Using a basic change of character to resolve the plot conflict is so amateurish, I can't believe it got published.A very definite "Save your money" ... Read more

16. Something Rich and Strange (Ibooks Fantasy Classics)
by Patricia McKillip
Paperback: 224 Pages (2005-12-25)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$301.98
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 1596871261
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

They have lived among us for centuries—distant, separate, just out of sight. They fill our myths, our legends, and the stories we tell our children in the dark of night. They come from the air, from water, from earth, and from fire. What are these creatures that enjoin out imagination? Faeries.

Something Rich and Strange creates a faerie story that's not to be missed: Megan is an artist who draws seascapes. Jonah owns a shop devoted to treasures from the deep. Their lives, so strongly touched by the ocean, become forever intertwined when enchanting people of the sea lure them further into the underwater world—and away from each other. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Something "Strange"
There is rarely a solid message in Patricia McKillip's books -- whatever message there is is usually fluid and hard to read. "Something Rich and Strange" is an exception to that rule, with a very mild message about the sea shining through a beautiful twist on the Tam Lin story.

Jonah and Megan live in the Pacific Northwest, in a little seaside town where nothing much happens. That is, until the day Adam Fin comes there, with his beautiful pieces of otherworldly jewelry and a mysterious past. Megan finds herself fascinated by Adam. She's haunted by the sea, by strange and sometimes alarming characters lurking around, and by the image of the sea hare.

But Jonah succumbs to a different kind of siren song, when a beautiful singer at a local bar lures him in with her voice. Soon he has left Megan, the world that he knows (and most of his brain cells) to follow the beautiful woman down into the waves. Megan goes down herself,to find her beloved and try to bring him back. In the process, she and Jonah both must discover the dangerous, angry, grieving beauty of the sea and what they must do for it.

The novella is shorter than most of McKillip's books and longer than her short stories, yet full-fleshed and believable, the simplicity of the story masked by the ornate language she employs so well. Reading this book is like immersing yourself in an ornate, opulent aquarium.

Repeated use of seaweed, pearls, bright fish, shells, mer-creatures, and exotic sea-creatures in unusual roles add a note of dreaminess to the proceedings -- not that they need it. Except for a few key Jonah-Megan scenes, the entire book has the feel of a beautiful, prolonged dream, wrapped up in detailed writing and strong imagery.

Also unlike most of McKillip's books, this is a contemporary novel, as evidenced by the first page where Megan finds an Orange Crush can and a styrofoam float. Yet this never interferes with the flow of the book, which deals with imagery as timeless as the sea itself. Don't expect the Big Message to beat you over the head with its theme -- McKillip weaves it in softly and subtlely, though it is hinted in where Megan walks along the beach and sees the junk strewn around. The message about pollution becomes clearest at the end, but during subsequent rereadings one can see the clues lined up, but never overemphasized.

Adam himself is everything he's supposed to be--sexy, ambiguous, in form as well as in mind, for we see him shift from everything from a man to a splash of shapeshifting sea-foam. His sister is not as defined--we know she is dangerous, beautiful, seductive, etc--but perhaps that is deliberate, as we see little of her but constant hints as Jonah pursues her.

One of McKillip's less known novels is also among her best. "Something Rich and Strange" proves to be a magical, beautiful journey into an enchanted sea realm. You'll never see a picture of a mermaid the same way again.

5-0 out of 5 stars A place of beauty
There is rarely a solid message in Patricia McKillip's books -- whatever message there is is usually fluid and hard to read. "Something Rich and Strange" is an exception, with a very mild message about the sea shining through a beautiful twist on the Tam Lin story.

Jonah and Megan are lovers living together in the Pacific Northwest, an artist and a art storekeeper, in a little seaside town where nothing much happens. That is, until the day Adam Fin comes there, with his beautiful pieces of otherworldly jewelry and a mysterious past. Megan finds herself fascinated by Adam, while Jonah finds him strange. Megan is haunted by the sea, by strange and sometimes alarming characters lurking around, and by the image of the sea hare.

But Jonah succumbs to a different kind of siren song, when a beautiful singer at a local bar lures him in with her voice. Soon he has left Megan, the world that he knows, and most of his brain cells to follow the beautiful woman down into the waves. Megan agrees to venture down herself, along with the enigmatic Adam, to find her beloved and try to bring him back. In the process, she and Jonah both must discover the dangerous, angry, grieving beauty of the sea and what they must do for it.

The novella is shorter than most of McKillip's books and longer than her short stories, yet full-fleshed and believable, the simplicity of the story masked by the ornate language she employs so well. Repeated use of seaweed, pearls, bright fish, shells, mer-creatures, and exotic sea-creatures in unusual roles add a note of dreaminess to the proceedings--not that they need it. Except for a few key Jonah-Megan scenes, the entire book has the feel of a beautiful, prolonged dream.

Also unlike most of McKillip's books, this is a contemporary novel, as evidenced by the first page where Megan finds an Orange Crush can and a styrofoam float. Yet this never interferes with the flow of the book, which deals with imagery as timeless as the sea itself. Don't expect the Big Message to beat you over the head with its theme -- McKillip weaves it in softly and subtlely, though it is hinted in where Megan walks along the beach and sees the junk strewn around. The message about pollution becomes clearest at the end, but during subsequent rereadings one can see the clues lined up, but never overemphasized.

The characters are well-drawn: Megan, the rather misty young woman who only really seems to wake up when she heads down into the dreamy world of the sea. Jonah is aptly named, a rather bedazzled young man gets sucked (ironically, by his own will rather than against it) down into the depths. "Welcome to the belly of the whale" indeed. Adam himself is everything he's supposed to be--sexy, ambiguous, in form as well as in mind, for we see him shift from everything from a man to a splash of shapeshifting sea-foam. His sister is not as defined--we know she is dangerous, beautiful, seductive, etc--but perhaps that is deliberate, as we see little of her but constant hints as Jonah pursues her.

One of McKillip's less known novels is also among her best. "Something Rich and Strange" proves to be a magical, beautiful journey into an enchanted sea realm. You'll never see a picture of a mermaid the same way again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful...
"Full fathom five thy father lies, Of his bones are coral made, Those are pearls that were his eyes; Nothing of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange."

Lovers Jonahand Megan--he the owner of an art store somewhere on the Pacific Northwestcoast, she an artist who sketches the sea--find themselves changing intothings "rich and strange" when a pair of elusive and fascinatingstrangers enter their lives. The strangeness begins with littlethings--images appear of their own accord in Megan's drawings, an enigmaticsculptor named Adam Fin begins to frequent the store--but when a mysterioussinger claimed as Adam's sister lures Jonah into her own realm, it changesfrom a mystery of the everyday world to a mystery of the Otherworld. Tofind Jonah, Megan will have to first discover and then see past the legendsin which Adam and his powerful sister have clothed themselves, and Jonahmust learn to look past his fascination with the siren song to see whatprovokes such terrible beauty, grief, and rage.

The story of"Something Rich and Strange" unfolds like a dream, all the whileringing very true to life. Patricia McKillip's writing is rich in textureand imagery: vivid, precise, and often surreal; she is equally adept atdescribing the luminous beauty of an undersea kingdom as well as Megan andJonah's banter over dinner. The images she sculpts have a true ring ofotherworldly beauty to them; Adam and his sister speak in human words, butthey are not human, and while humans spin stories around their powerfulrealm, that is not human either. McKillip never lets the reader forgetthat; her mysterious sea is never ours to claim, only ours to remember andpreserve.

Read "Something Rich and Strange" three times: oncefor the story, once for the jeweled prose, once for its message. And thenread it a fourth time, for no reason except that the story deserves it. Itwill still be good: the changeable sea is eternal.

4-0 out of 5 stars McKillip writes a pearl inspired by the pull of the tide.
Something Rich and Strange offers the reader theoftenly needed crash ofreality. By not losing the mystery and enchantment of the ocean, McKillipshows how humanity's blind ignorance is killing the magic found beneath thetide. Even when the powers below cry out for help they must disquise itwith a Siren's Song and not frantic plea for survival. The book has a paceequal to the waves crashing on the shore, be it during a hurricane or aspring shower, that is left up for the reader to decide. ... Read more

17. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (Magic Carpet Books)
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 352 Pages (2006-01-01)
list price: US$6.95 -- used & new: US$2.78
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0152055363
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review


Sixteen when a baby is brought to her to raise, Sybel has grown up on Eld Mountain. Her only playmates are the creatures of a fantastic menagerie called there by wizardry. Sybel has cared nothing for humans, until the baby awakens emotions previously unknown to her. And when Coren--the man who brought this child--returns, Sybel's world is again turned upside down.
Amazon.com Review
Almost destroyed because of a man's fear and greed, Sybel, abeautiful young sorceress, embarks on a quest for revenge that provesequally destructive. Winner of the World Fantasy award, thisexquisitely written story has something for almost every reader:adventure, romance and a resonant mythology that reveals powerfultruths about human nature. Locus praised it for its "marvelousheroine... and chilling sorcery" and The New York Times calledit "rich and regal." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (98)

4-0 out of 5 stars I adored this book as a kid
Even though listed as "young adult," I read this book for the first time in elementary school (ok, I was precocious).It is one of my personal all-time classics.I think I must have borrowed it from the library about thirteen times during my childhood and adolescence.I've often considered going back and rereading it as an adult.Don't know how it reads for an adult, but I highly recommend it for teens and precocious younger children.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lyrical
Brilliant and lyrical. The opening scene is merely a recitation of lineage, and it is one of the most poetic things I have ever read. The text almost has that Old Testament power. This book is poetry for people who can't stand poetry (like me!).

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, insightful,moving
While McKillip tends to look down on this book and the Riddle-Master trilogy as being inferior to her later works, I disagree.True, she lacks the mastery of prose and beautiful evocation that she displays in her later works.However, this story is a moving and insightful story of a woman (and a man) who each lose themselves, then come to find themselves more deeply and become more than they ever were. A beautiful analogy of fear and love, and how they, and our choices, can shape a person.Truly a classic that is much deeper than it appears, and that I have read and re-read many times.

4-0 out of 5 stars WORTH READING ONCE
If you take a Brother's Grimm Fairy Tale, stretch it out to novel-length and then inject it with lots of ethics and moral dilemmas, you basically have THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD.

On the outside the characters are basically distinguished based on their sex and eye color, wear their emotions on their sleeves, fall in love and make decisions at the drop of a hat and do things like "stroking hair" that crosses the border of HABIT into that of hair-stroking ADDICT.

The inside of these characters is where they--and the book--really shine. I haven't read a book with this many moral dilemmas in a long time! There were times I felt the characters acted a bit odd (Sybel and Coren's relationship), but on the other hand Sybel is not a normal woman, either. Who's to say how a lonely woman who has been living isolated on a mountain with animal-friends would act and what she secretly desires?

The storyline in general is rather spartan, only moving along because the characters are interesting and sincere enough.
Not alot of scenic descriptions but some of the names of beasts, characters and places roll sweetly off your tongue.
There is lots of dialogue and inner-thoughts, however McKillip doesn't always clue the reader in as to whether Character A or Character B is speaking first, which makes it a bit confusing at times.

I can clearly see how this got the World Fantasy Award (not many people write fairy-tales, much less good ones), but in spite of that I see it as something I probably would not want to re-read. A once-through is all you should need to take the important message from this story.

4-0 out of 5 stars "My Eyes Turned Inward and I Looked..."
As one of McKillip's earlier works, "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld" provides an interesting comparison to her first publication Riddle-Master, a dense trilogy that made the most of her trademark poetic-prose. On the other hand, "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld" is a relatively slim volume with a clear, concise style and a straightforward story. Since then, McKillip has managed to successfully merge the aspects of both works in her later works, but "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld" is by no means an example of a new writer still trying to find her voice. Far from it: "Forgotten Beasts" has a fascinating premise, intriguing character interactions and a rewarding conclusion.

Sybel is the solitary wizard of Eld Mountain, living in a great white house with a menagerie of magical animals that she and her forefathers have called from all the corners of the world. She is perfectly content with her spells and her creatures, until one day a man named Coren brings a baby to her gate. The child's parentage is in dispute: is his father the King of Eldwold or a Prince of Sirle? These two countries are at war with one another, and only one fact is clear: that the baby's mother Rianna was kin to Sybel. So it is to her that Coren of Sirle has brought the infant for safety.

Years pass, and Sybel finds herself in a precarious position. Tamlorn is on the verge of becoming a young man, eager to learn about his father King Drede. Coren, who also happens to be brother of the man that Rianna betrayed Drede for, has fallen in love with her. Two entire countries seem poised on the edge of further war, and the decisions that Sybel makes could either precipitate or halt such events.

She herself wants to remain a neutral party, for aligning herself with one or the other means setting herself against either her child or her lover. But the rulers of both countries are eager to use her in their machinations, and when one takes steps to ensure her loyalty against her will, a seed of hate is bred in her that threatens to overthrow her capacity for love.

It is this internal conflict that provides the impetus for the story as a whole, and builds up an interesting conflict between love and hate, and the power that these emotions hold over an individual. Everything that Sybel holds dear is endangered by her insatiable need for vengeance, and though she can recognize this for herself, she cannot bring herself to give up her hatred of the man who was prepared to take away her free-will by magical means. McKillip finds an innovative way to address the seemingly inevitable tragedy of the story, by introducing a creature early on that embodies fear itself, challenging Sybel to relinquish both hate and love in order to retain her sense of self.

"The Forgotten Beasts of Eld" is a rewarding read; quick, entertaining and thought-provoking while it lasts. It's not amazingly profound by any means, for if you look closely, the plot holes and characterization flaws become more apparent. There could have been a little more development in several of the somewhat two-dimensional characters, such as the icy, emotionless Sybel and Coren's seemingly out-of-nowhere love for her. A little more depth would have made their intertwining stories more poignant.

Fans of McKillip's later books may miss her usual lucid, dream-like prose, which is largely missing here. Its absence means that the dialogue often feels a little stilted, with character awkwardly postulating their thoughts and feelings to one another in a way that just doesn't feel natural. And yet no book by McKillip could ever be bad - she's just too good at what she does. The themes and situations of the story are built up and carried out, the characters are sympathetic and interesting despite their slight two-dimensionality, and as always, the story is packed full of sparkling ideas that would sustain any other author over the course of several books. "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld" may not be McKillip's best novels, but it is certainly one of her most readable and entertaining. ... Read more

18. Moon-Flash
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 304 Pages (2005-03-17)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.24
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0142403016
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Kyreol's small world begins at the Face, a high rock cliff, and ends at Fourteen Falls, a series of rapids. Each year, her people celebrate Moon-Flash-a spark of light that seems to come from and go into the moon, a symbol of life and joy. When a mysterious stranger arrives, Kyreol wants to know more about him, as well as the Moon-Flash, and soon she and her childhood friend Terje leave their home to look for answers. Those answers will pluck Kyreol from Riverworld and transform her life forever-by fast-forwarding her into a future she can barely comprehend. This omnibus edition combines the acclaimed Patricia A. McKillip's two science-fiction novels, Moon-Flash and The Moon and the Face-at the request of Firebird readers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great older children and young teens story
If you are selecting this book for a child, it is entirely appropriate to be read aloud and discussed with mature pre-teens. It is a great topic for early teens to read alone if they have a strong vocabulary. IF you read on and the book is for you, be warned plot points arespoken of.

Moon Flash by Patricia McKillip is an engaging story of a 13 year old girl in a primitive tribal jungle setting. When she discovers a man dressed in camoflage gear speaking into a communicator, she realizes her world is not what it seems. Seeing the man and having had her mother disappear 10 years before motivates her departure. She is also avoiding a betrothal. She and her best friend, a boy her age, take a canoe over the giant falls leaving their village and the life they've known behind. They encounter numerous scenarios on their journey down the river, some dangerous and toward the end of the book, come to a city in the modern world. The whys and whereabouts of her mother's disappearance are sought and the reason their tribe has lived untouched by the modern world is discovered. This book is beautifully written as are all of McKillip's stories. I highly recommend it. While there are some scary parts as the young travelers escape a head hunter tribe there are no sexual scenes that would make it inappropriate for pre-teens. Life is spoken of very forthrightly however. It is a lovely book that would likely appeal to girls and some boys, if they are big fans of reading and have a broad range of interests. I would not call this a fantasy in that most of it is true to real life. Perhaps only the ending is fantasical in that the city that the young explorers find is more advanced technologically than we are today in modes of travel. The sequel to this book is a full blown space travel fantasy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Emergence of then and now
Patricia McKillip has for a long time been one of my favorite authors, and she really outdid herself on this story. The characterization is wonderful, sucking the reader right into the background landscape. It was a novel I couldn't put down. The main character was strong in spite of the male dominated society she lived in.

The modern society watching over Riverworld and protecting it was a wonderful facet to the story, and how a powerful message therein.

I loved this story and hope to see more like this from her in the future.

5-0 out of 5 stars The River is the world
Firebird Books has put out some excellent reprints, such as Midori Snyder's Oran Trilogy and the wonderful Redwall books. But they have outdone themselves with Patricia McKillip's "Moon-Flash" duology. It's bittersweet, beautifully written, and serves as an unusual coming-of-age story.

In the first book "Moon-Flash," Kyreol is a young woman living in the jungle valley of Riverworld, which the inhabitants believe is the entire universe. But while unhappily living with her betrothed's family, Kyreol encounters the strange Hunter, and realizes that he is from somewhere else. And wherever he came from, Kyreol knows that her long-lost mother went there.

So she and her childhood friend Terje escape down the River. When they finally make their way to the Hunter and his people, Kyreol and Terje are taken to a lunar Dome far above their home. Together, they will find that the universe is more complex than they ever knew -- and that nothing in Riverworld, even the sacred Moon-Flash, is what they think it is.

"The Moon and the Face" picks up four years later. Terje and Kyreol have been trained by the Agency, and are now ready for their first assignments. Terje will be accompanying Regny back to Riverworld, to observe its inhabitants, and Kyreol will be going to a nearby planet to observe the lightless Burrowers.

Except neither mission turns out right: Kyreol's spaceship crashes on a desert planet, stranding her in an abandoned city with an unknown alien. To make matters worse, she is plagued by dreams of death. And Terje returns to his old village, only to find that the Healer (Kyreol's father) is dying.

Patricia McKillip began writing the "Moon-Flash" story while she was in the middle of another science fiction book. And like her other sci-fi stories, "Moon-Flash" is light-years away from typical space operas.

McKillip's dreamy, detailed writing is still in full force here, whether she's writing about a lunar base, a rainforest, a graveyard, or a colorless city on an alien moon. Even her aliens are unusual -- some are made of water or air, while others are furry three-eyed creatures who communicate entirely in wordless song.

She also explores the idea of primitive people being exposed to futuristic technology, and the way it would change them -- they would gain knowledge, but lose innocence. The most bittersweet subplot is that of Kyreol's parents, whose love was sacrificed so that her mother could preserve Riverworld. And while Kyreol and Terje seem to learn everything a bit too quickly, McKillip makes their slow education absolutely thrilling.

The first book's main focus is on Kyreol, exploring her doubts, her curiosity, and her longing to know everything. But the second is more about Terje, who struggles with his love for Riverworld and his love for his new life. They grow from naive children to independent leaders and explorers, and in McKillip's hands, it seems entirely plausible.

The "Moon-Flash" duology is a beautiful, spellbinding piece of science fiction, and it's a good thing that this story has finally come back into print. Absolutely entrancing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Really just fantasic!
When I first saw this book in the bookstore, I debated about getting it for about a month. The moment I bought, I regretted it. This book was so fanastic, you shouldn't hesitate! The back cover makes the book sound stupid, and the front cover art is slightly freaky, but the book itself was actually really, really good. Masterful writing combined with poetic development of characters and setting makes the novel flow. The transtitions and changes that the main characters have to go through, the challenges they face, and the triumphs and discoveries that they encounter will have you devouring the book in a day or less. Honeslty, don't hesitate when thinking about buying this book. It will become a treasured piece of your collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars One of the best young adult books I've ever read
It's a wonderful and compelling journey story. A treasure not to be missed. I look forward to sharing it with my children Also has one of the most beautiful prose poems I have ever read. ... Read more

19. Ombria in Shadow
by Patricia A. McKillip
Paperback: 304 Pages (2003-02)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.21
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0441010164
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Ombria. It is a city that echoes with the footfalls of sapphire-heeled shoes...that holds its breath as a straw-haired apparition glides through its streets...that sees its dreams-and nightmares-take shape in the drawings of a bastard-heir. It is an enchanted time and place envisioned by World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip, acclaimed author of The Tower at Stony Wood...Amazon.com Review
As Ombria in Shadow demonstrates, World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip (author of Riddle-Master, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and other novels) ranks with Ursula K. Le Guin and Jane Yolen as one of the great fantasists of the 20th century--and the 21st.

The Prince of Ombria lies dying, and already his sinister great-aunt, Domina Pearl--called the Black Pearl--is seizing power. The Prince's heir is a child, a boy too young to oppose her, and the Prince's nephew is a powerless bastard, an artist preoccupied with sketching the decaying city. No one lives who may stop the Black Pearl's ascent to the throne, or so it seems. But beneath the streets of Ombria lies a second, shadow Ombria, a buried city inhabited not only by ghosts, but by a powerful, mysterious sorceress and her creation, a girl sculpted from wax. But the sorceress is a woman of uncertain allegiances, and her beautiful young assistant has become fascinated by the Prince's bastard nephew--and has caught the malevolent eye of the Black Pearl. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

4-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book
Though I like everything of McKillip's that I have read so far, Ombria in Shadow is my favourite. The character of Meg and what she is had me from the beginning and never failed to capture me. I also loved the city, above and below. McKillip is an old fashioned fantasy writer, one who does well at evoking that awe and wonder so often missing in modern fantasy. I will devour every book she puts out.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, Good Stuff
I really enjoyed this book, but for some reason it's been really hard to write this review.

Ombria in Shadow is not the typical fantasy that I normally read. There is not much action or traditional fantasy elements present here, but McKillip creates a fascinating story with rich characters and an intriguing plot. I found it very hard to put down from beginning to end.

This is a novel filled with much political intrigue. There are attempted assassinations, power coups, witches with spells for hire and even pirates (although more of just the mention of pirates!) The pacing of the story is fast and the tensions run pretty high throughout. There is a strong feeling of hope and a fight against the oppressive rule of tyranny. We also see that we actually see of the world with our eyes does not represent the whole. There is a world of shadow beneath Ombria, but not necessarily one of darkness that the word shadow brings to mind.

Overall, I would recommend this book to fans of fantasy who would like to expand their horizons beyond the traditional Sword and Sorcery-type tale. It is truly magical and I will be looking into McKillip's other works in the future.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Shadows Stay Shadowed
I loved this book for its poetic language, its characters and its atmosphere. I was surprised, however, that the ending revealed so little. There seemed to be such original ideas brewing beneath the surface of the politics and intrigue. Unless I missed something, it never explained what the Shadow city was, what its relationship to Ombria was, what the shift was, why it happened, or who the sorceresses were. I picked up some implications that Mag may have been half of the shadow city, but it never said, and it didn't say whether she was related to Ducon in some way. I suppose the characters' lives were fixed in the end, but I was still confused. I wanted a more in-depth revelation of the nature of this world.

2-0 out of 5 stars Great writing, not-so-great characters
[***** = breathtaking, **** = excellent, *** = good, ** = flawed, * = bad]

The writing is gorgeous, which is a given for McKillip.But all three characters are exactly alike -- and, while two are women, the third is supposed to be a guy!

Plus, the actual quest got a little murky for me.I was never sure exactly how our main characters are supposed to save Ombria. Longer review at ImpatientReader-dot-com.

4-0 out of 5 stars good read
I stayed up until three finishing this book. It is a good solid fantasy book with enjoyable, believable characters. ... Read more

20. The Mammoth Book of Sorcerer's Tales: The Ultimate Collection of Magical Fantasy from Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Patricia McKillip, Theodore Sturgeon and Many More
 Paperback: 512 Pages (2004-10-28)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$5.12
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: B00127QAZE
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Sorcery is all around us. From a child’s struggles to control magical powers for the first time, to the epic clashes of forces of good and evil on a titanic scale, here are more than twenty of the finest in contemporary and classic wizardry tales. Ranging from Michael Moorcock’s "Master of Chaos," the story of a knight traveling to a castle on the edge of the world to face the ultimate sorcerer, to Peter Crowther’s "The Eternal Altercation," in which a man is forced into the eternal battle between hope and despair on a sorcerer-controlled train, The Mammoth Book of Sorcerers’ Tales also includes stories from Ursula Le Guin, Steve Rasnic Tem, James Bibby, Robert Weinberg, A. C. Benson, Michael Kurland, and Louise Cooper. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A treat for fans of the fantasy genre
Knowledgeably compiled and edited by Mike Ashley, The Mammoth Book Of Sorcerers' Tales is a 512-page compendium of some of the best stories of wizardry from some of the finest writers in the fantasy genre. "Master of Chaos" by Michael Moorcock, "The Walker Behind" by Marion Zimmer Bradley, "The Bones of the Earth" by Ursula K. LeGuin and many more fill this exciting and volume brimming with magic, action, fantastic settings and mystical heroic deeds. The Mammoth Book Of Sorcerers' Tales is a treat for fans of the fantasy genre interested in experiencing nothing but the best of the best.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Mammoth Book of Sorcerers' Tales
I am disappointed in this book.I have read 10 of the stories so far.Each story starts off great and builds into something exciting.Then each one seems to end abruptly.So my problem is with the endings.Each one is worst then the one before.

I would not recommend this book to someone who is starting to read fantasy.It will disappoint them

5-0 out of 5 stars Something for Everyone
What an excellent short story collection!Though I have been a science fiction / fantasy fan for much of my life, I have only recently begun to read anthologies such as this one; however, I have read quite a lot in the past few years.Of the 15 or so that I've enjoyed, I do not hesitate to recommend this book as one of the best.Each of its 23 short stories is an amazing work of art that will have readers eager to flip to the next page.With a spectrum of tales ranging from magical events triggered by a seemingly harmless computer game to stories of fairy-tale-like love in jeopardy to wonderfully lighthearted comic fantasies, every reader with the slightest interest in the genre is sure to find something appealing.In fact, with the inclusion of comedy, computers, and modern-day themes, even those who don't normally read fantasy may be hard-pressed to put this novel down!

500 pages is simply not enough, and I can only hope to see more anthologies of this quality in the future. ... Read more

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