The Golden Key

The Golden Key

4.7 8
by Melanie Rawn, Kate Elliott, Jennifer Roberson

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In the duchy of Tira Virte fine art is prized above all things, both for its beauty and as a binding legal record of everything from marriages and births to treaties and inheritances. And although the Grand Duke is aware that there is more to the paintings of certain master limners than meets the eye, not even he knows just how extraordinary the art of the Grijalva… See more details below


In the duchy of Tira Virte fine art is prized above all things, both for its beauty and as a binding legal record of everything from marriages and births to treaties and inheritances. And although the Grand Duke is aware that there is more to the paintings of certain master limners than meets the eye, not even he knows just how extraordinary the art of the Grijalva family truly is. For certain males of their bloodline are born with a frightening, magical talent - the ability to manipulate time and reality within their paintings, a Gift which enables them to alter events and influence people in the real world. Always, their power has been used solely to aid Tira Virte and its ruler. Always, until the time of Sario Grijalva. Sario, driven by his own passion and ambition, has learned to use his Gift in a whole new way. Obsessed with both his magic and his beautiful, adored cousin Saavedra, Sario will do anything to win her love. Unable to bear it when Saavedra gives her heart to another, he takes a first, fateful step beyond the boundaries previously placed on Grijalva spell-casting, capturing his cousin with forbidden arts. And it is this rash and dangerous act which sets in motion a generations-spanning pattern of treachery and betrayal which may cause both the Grijalvas and Tira Virte to a pay a terrible price.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The three Musketeers they're not, but judging by their finished product, the three authors who have collaborated on this hefty historical fantasy comprise a competent team. In exploring the relationships among art, magic and morality, Rawn (The Ruins of Ambrai), Roberson (the Cheysuli series) and Elliot (the Jaran series) have tried to create a novel that is seamless yet preserves their individual literary personalities. The narrative covers three generations in the mythical history of Tira Virte; each generation's story seems the work primarily of one of the three authors. For centuries, Tira Virte's do'Verrada Dukes have been manipulated by the gifted Grijalva family. Selected Grijalva women become First Mistresses, while male Grijalva artist-magicians, the sterile Limners, can direct human lives by incorporating their own vital juices into their pigments, a practice that causes them to die young and in agony. Unifying the book is the Machiavellian Limner Sario Grijalva, who achieves unnaturally long life by successively murdering 16 men and taking over their bodies. The novel begins with "Chieva do'Sangua," apparently by Rawn, which competently depicts Sario's daring youth, his domination of Tira Virte as Lord Limner and his complex desire for his equally talented artist-cousin Saavedra. This introduces the major theme of women whose biological imperatives conflict with the demands of their talents. Foiled by Saavedra's love for the handsome Duke Alejandro, Sario magically imprisons Saavedra in a ravishing portrait. "Chieva do'Sihirro," which displays Roberson's hand, is more pedestrian in concept, detailing Sario's incognito political engineering 300 years hence. Finally, the colorful "Chieva do'Orro" tidies up Tira Virte a generation later, bloodlessly establishing a constitutional government, releasing Saavedra from her enchantment and punishing Sario's villainy with a unique revenge that opens a door to shared-universe sequels. Perhaps Sario's last words here best sum up this long and involved experimental saga: "remember patience." Authors tour. (Sept.)
VOYA - Nancy K. Wallace
Tira Virte is a mythical country ruled jointly by its Grand Duke and its magical Limners, the extremely talented painters who record each birth and death and legitimize each treaty and deed. These gifted painters, holders of the coveted "Golden Key" for their proficiency both in magic and art, create their masterpieces with more than paint; what they put to canvas they can also make reality. One Lord Limner, Sario Grijalva, has discovered ancient magic and power exceeding anything his colleagues have used before-magic so powerful it offers him immortality. But Sario's love of art is exceeded only by his passion for his cousin Saavedra. Jealous of her growing devotion to the young Duke Alejandro, Sario uses his magic to cruelly blind Saavedra to him forever. In this four-hundred-year-long saga, these three talented authors trace Sario's rise to greatness, literally over the bodies of those who would oppose him. His single-minded ruthlessness makes him both the most talented painter of all time and also the most treacherous. Well-known artist Michael Whelan, who provided inspiration for the novel, has supplied the cover art: a chilling portrayal of himself as Sario. While each author has written a third of the novel, skillful transitions smoothly blend three time periods into a seamless collaboration. Mediterranean flavor and rich detail lend the text the authenticity of historical fiction. The unique use of art as a vehicle of terrifying power, literally controlling life and death, compels the reader anxiously on. There can be nothing but praise for this new fantasy. Each author has previously succeeded in her own right, but this collective effort is brilliant. Rarely does a work combine such uniqueness, creativity and suspense. Don't miss it! VOYA Codes: 5Q 5P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Kirkus Reviews
A "shared world" trilogy in one volume, offering connected novels by three of this publisher's most popular authors (the credits page lists over two dozen of their previous works), collaborating for the first time.

The setting is an imaginary quasi-Mediterranean country, Tira Virte, where a close alliance between political power and fine art is the norm. Contracts, treaties, wills, and important occasions are recorded not in writing but in painting, and the Grand Duke considers the Lord Limner (the court artist) his most significant appointment. As the story begins, we learn that one family of artists, the Grijalvas, has fallen into disfavor despite their exceptional technique. One young Grijalva artist, Sario, strikes a deal with the mysterious Tza'ab, a descendant of the hereditary enemies of Tira Virte, to learn how to combine painting with magic. At the same time, his beautiful cousin Saavedra becomes the official mistress of the Grand Duke's son—planning to use her influence to make a Grijalva the next Lord Limner. In a fit of jealousy, Sario uses his magic to imprison her inside a painting; he then makes use of his powers to transfer himself into the body of a younger man, thereby escaping the early death that awaits all Grijalva painters. So begins a multigenerational saga in which Sario, in different embodiments, and the official mistresses (the title is now a Grijalva perquisite) influence Tira Virtean life and art. We jump three centuries ahead to an era when the still thriving Sario's plans are temporarily thwarted by the equally insidious schemes of the mistress, then at last to an even later era where revolution threatens to turn Tira Virte into a modern nation with little room for either Grand Dukes or Grijalvas.

In overall effect, this resembles nothing so much as a fantasy soap opera on a grand scale—exactly as might be expected from the authors' previous work.

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4.36(w) x 6.78(h) x 1.54(d)

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