Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Date Read: March 25 to 28, 2017
This book gave me chills. Still does.
I went in knowing nothing about it. I mean, I did skim some of the reviews, so I knew it was highly rated and people seemed to love, but other than that, I had no idea what it’s about or what to expect, and I had never read Patricia McKillip before.
And that was the best way to approach because the writing blew me away. It is simply SO GOOD and has a beautiful fluidity to it that makes it so easy to fall into.
What impresses me most is that the prose is neither purple nor flowery; it’s just lovely to read. There’s a dreamy, poignant, lyrical quality to it, yet it’s so easy to read and so concise. There’s not an unnecessary scene or line or moment anywhere. Every word serves a purpose, and not once during the read did I feel like the story was wandering around aimlessly. Nothing is out of place, and so much happens in so few pages. And I just love that kind of writing–purposeful and minimalistic in execution.
So what is this book about?
Briefly: Sybel, a young powerful sorceress who knows nothing of the world below her mountain and wants nothing to do with it, is pushed into the affairs of two warring sides within a kingdom when a baby is brought to her to raise.
On one side, there’s an insecure king who fears being dethroned. On the other side, there’s family of nobles who would like to dethrone the king. Their animosity toward each other go way back. Both sides want Sybel and use her powers for their own, but only one seeks out a way to break and bind her to their will. What follows is an all consuming tale of near destruction.
Well… not exactly, but that was what it felt like during the read, like everything was coming apart at the seams, and I could not turn the page fast enough.
Sometimes, after a string of bland genre picks, I would forget what it’s like to read well written fantasy, but then something always comes along to remind me. McKillip was the perfect reminder.
“What, in years to come, will you have in your life but a silence that is meaningless, ancient names that are never spoken beyond these walls? Who will you laugh with, when Tam is grown? Who will you love? The Liralen? It is a dream. Beyond this mountain, there is a place for you among the living.”
“You can weave your life for so long–only so long, and then a thing in the world out of your control will tug at one vital thread and leave you patternless and subdued.”
“Be patient. It will soon be over.”
“Soon is such a long word,” she whispered.