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Alphabet of Thorn
     

Alphabet of Thorn

4.2 28
by Patricia A. McKillip
 

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Fantasy author Patricia A. McKillip, the 21st century's response to Hans Christian Andersen, has mastered the art of writing fairy tales -- as evidenced by previous works like The Tower at Stony Wood, Ombria in Shadow, and In the Forests of Serre. Alphabet of Thorn is yet another timeless fable suitable for children and adults alike.

In the

Overview

Fantasy author Patricia A. McKillip, the 21st century's response to Hans Christian Andersen, has mastered the art of writing fairy tales -- as evidenced by previous works like The Tower at Stony Wood, Ombria in Shadow, and In the Forests of Serre. Alphabet of Thorn is yet another timeless fable suitable for children and adults alike.

In the kingdom of Raine, a vast realm at the edge of the world, an orphaned baby girl is found by a palace librarian and raised to become a translator. Years later, the girl -- named Nepenthe -- comes in contact with a mysterious book written in a language of thorns that no one, not even the wizards at Raine's famous Floating School for mages, can decipher. The book calls out to Nepenthe's very soul, and she is soon privately translating its contents. As she works tirelessly transcribing the book -- which turns out to be about the historical figures of Axis, the Emperor of Night, and Kane, his masked sorcerer -- the kingdom of Raine is teetering on the brink of chaos. The newly crowned queen, a mousy 14-year old girl named Tessera who wants nothing to do with matters of state, hides in the woods as regents plot revolution. The queen's destiny, however, is intertwined with Nepenthe's ability to unravel the mystery of the thorns.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
Fantasy author Patricia A. McKillip, the 21st century's response to Hans Christian Andersen, has mastered the art of writing fairy tales -- as evidenced by previous works like The Tower at Stony Wood, Ombria in Shadow, and In the Forests of Serre. Alphabet of Thorn is yet another timeless fable suitable for children and adults alike.

In the kingdom of Raine, a vast realm at the edge of the world, an orphaned baby girl is found by a palace librarian and raised to become a translator. Years later, the girl -- named Nepenthe -- comes in contact with a mysterious book written in a language of thorns that no one, not even the wizards at Raine's famous Floating School for mages, can decipher. The book calls out to Nepenthe's very soul, and she is soon privately translating its contents. As she works tirelessly transcribing the book -- which turns out to be about the historical figures of Axis, the Emperor of Night, and Kane, his masked sorcerer -- the kingdom of Raine is teetering on the brink of chaos. The newly crowned queen, a mousy 14-year old girl named Tessera who wants nothing to do with matters of state, hides in the woods as regents plot revolution. The queen's destiny, however, is intertwined with Nepenthe's ability to unravel the mystery of the thorns.

Lyrical, wistful, steeped in folklore, and saturated with magic, McKillip's newest novel is an absolute gem that should not only be read by adults but also shared with children who enjoy tales dealing with myth and legends -- simply delightful. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
Those who have bemoaned the death of the true fairy tale will be delighted by this charming foray from World Fantasy Award-winner McKillip (Ombria in Shadow). She skillfully weaves together two eras and two sets of believable characters to create a single spellbinding story that brilliantly modernizes a beautiful old formula: the clever orphaned foundling has no desire to seek out her parents nor ambition for high office; the powerful wizard is a disguised woman deeply in love with the conquering king, who treats his subjects kindly; the sullen young queen catapulted to her throne by her father's unexpected death turns out to have both skill and humor in unexpected places; the haughty witch finds herself honestly baffled by turns of events that she never predicted. Moreover, where another author might have played up slapstick clumsiness for cheap laughs, McKillip evokes compassion for the characters' frustrations as they take their befuddled steps toward their predestined meeting. Best of all, the strong female leads neither rail against nor submit to patriarchy. In this magical world blissfully free of bias, people are simply themselves, equally intelligent and witty and thoroughly capable while prone to the occasional error, in a manner that transcends feminism and becomes a celebration of essential humanity. The brisk sweep to the slightly abrupt conclusion leaves the reader longing for more. (Feb. 3) Forecast: The small trim size and the exquisite, gentle jacket art that evokes classic fairy tale volumes will grab the attention of YA readers. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The day that the new queen of Raine is crowned, a translator working in the palace receives a book written in a strange language of thornlike characters. As Nepenthe, the translator, unlocks the language's secret, she learns of a legend from the ancient past that involves her and the queen in an intrigue that threatens the kingdom itself. McKillip (Ombria in Shadow) creates the atmosphere of a fairy tale with her elegantly lyrical prose and attention to nuance. Her characters are at once intimately personal and larger than life. This belongs in most fantasy collections and is suitable for both adult and YA readers. Highly recommended. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780441012435
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
638,586
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia A. McKillip is a winner of the World Fantasy Award, and the author of many fantasy novels, including The Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy, Stepping from the Shadows, and The Cygnet and the Firebird. She lives in Oregon.

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Alphabet Of Thorn 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a really great book. It's not very long and there isn't a whole lot of detail, but it's okay because the whole book is very focused on the story. What I mean is, some books go on describing things that don't matter much (not that I mind all the descriptions and detail) but this one focused only on the main story. It's more like when someone tells you a tale instead of you reading it out of a book and it was kind of cool and captivating that way. It was a great story and very well thought out. Very original. The author doesn't give many hints as to what the ending is all about until the last few chapters, so it surprises you. Highly recommended
Guest More than 1 year ago
patrica A. mckillip once again creates a story that is woven together with such simple beauty and mastery that the travels between past and present seem to (as it really is) be one. she is amaster at her craft and draws you into her dreamlike world that strangely rings with reality...
Guest More than 1 year ago
The characters in this book are what make it good, I think the story would be a little too unbelieveable without them. It goes back and forth between past and present, before finally tying them together in the end. Over all I think that it was beautifully written and I would recomend it.
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