“McKillip demonstrates once again her exquisite grasp of the fantasist’s craft.”—Publishers Weekly
“Lyrical prose, well-limned characterizations, vibrant action, a sense of the wonder of magic, and a generous dollop of romance . . . a story that will bind readers in its spell.”—Booklist
“More enchantments and wonders from McKillip.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A terrific fantasy tale starring a delightful protagonist, a vile villain, and an assortment of eccentric supporting characters including the mysterious wonderful Wizard of Od. The story line grips . . . mesmerizes readers until the final spell is spun.”—Midwest Book Review
McKillip shines in her presentation of the characters, the city of Kelior, and in her depiction of what magic really means. The varied districts of Kelior, including the mysterious Twilight Quarter, are nearly tangible, rich in sensory heft. And in her evocation of magic as a ceaseless pursuit of knowledge and art, not power, McKillip draws subtle parallels with her own mission as a writer.
The Washington Post
Delicately skirting the edge of preachiness, World Fantasy Award-winner McKillip (Alphabet of Thorn) demonstrates once again her exquisite grasp of the fantasist's craft in this slender stand-alone novel. Generations ago, the seemingly immortal wizard Od saved the city of Numis from destruction, not out of altruism but because it seemed like a nice place to found a school of magic. Over the years, the practice of magic has come more and more under the king's control. Deciding to stir things up, Od recruits Brenden Vetch, a gardener from the northlands with tremendous raw power and no taste for politics. As Brenden arrives in Numis, so does a fabulous street magician, Tyramin, whose sleight-of-hand looks suspiciously like unauthorized wizardry. King Galin's attempts to control Brendan and arrest Tyramin only scare them away and earn him the scorn of his daughter, Sulys. As with the Narnia books and other fantasy classics with religious or political agendas, if you can shut off your awareness of worldly context, you'll find this an otherworldly delight. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (June 7) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In this well-crafted fantasy, loner Brenden Vetch finds solace in studying plants and tending his garden. One day, a mysterious, otherworldly woman approaches him. She is accompanied by mice, lizards, cats and numerous other creatures. This entrancing woman is the elusive Od, a magician so powerful that she alone stopped the siege of Kelior and restored peace to Numis. In exchange for her aid, the king provided Od with her own school of magic and allowed her to walk freely throughout his land. The school is currently in need of a gardener so Od invites Brenden Vetch to work at the school. When Brenden opens the "door under the shoe," he discovers that Od hasn't been seen in many years. The school has been controlled by the rulers of Numis, and a fear of wild magic plagues the government. Readers will discover whether Od has set her own agenda in place as Brenden learns of his incredible raw magic and rumors abound of the presence of Tyramin, a magician thought to unlawfully teach magic, in the Twilight Quarter. Lyrically told, the novel evokes an enchanting atmosphere and thoughtful tone while presenting a comforting, fairy tale-like setting. The conflicting philosophies regarding controlled vs. unfettered magic and the nature of illusions provide readers with a chance for discussion while the character of Od offers a mythical quality to the story. This leisurely paced title will appeal to fans of Caroline Stevermer as well as fans of Patricia McKillip's previous work. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Penguin, Berkley, 315p., $14.00.. Ages 15 to adult.
In the land of Numis, all wizards were taught to serve the king and country, and uncontrolled magic was forbidden. When the legendary wizard Od summons the reclusive Brenden Vetch to her school of wizardry to serve as gardener, she knows that the young man's talent for growing things hides a gift powerful enough to challenge those who pull the wizards' strings. McKillip (In the Forests of Serre) finds poetry in every story she tells, crafting tales that are both personal and universal. Featuring unusual and compelling characters, her latest belongs in most fantasy collections and should appeal to both adult and YA readers. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
More enchantments and wonders from McKillip (The Tower at Stony Wood, 2000, etc.), here displayed in a tale where almost everybody forlornly carries secrets and sorrows they cannot share. Brenden Vetch carries his grief like a sack of stones as he wanders far and wide, learning about plants by literally becoming them. In the snows of distant Skrygard Mountain, he comes upon a strange group of ancient, charred stumps, clearly alive and compellingly magical but impervious to his talents. Then the tall, semi-legendary, 400-year-old wizard Od tells him to go to King Galin's school of magic, where they have need of a gardener. At the school, Brenden meets unhappy teacher Yar Ayrwood, constrained by King Galin's chronic mistrust of unknown magics and unable to entirely rely on his lover, Ceta Thiel, whose cousin, the wizard Valoren Greye, enforces the king's rules. Sulys, Galin's daughter, is engaged to marry Valoren but finds he won't listen to her; Sulys works her own small magics with needle and thread, water and wax, inherited from her grandmother but not approved by the school. In the Twilight Quarter, meanwhile, the dazzling but mysterious magician Tyramin again takes up residence. Tyramin's public face is that of his beautiful daughter, Mistral, who must pretend that her own potent magic is nothing but illusion and spectacle, because it lies outside the royal purview. Od, clearly orchestrating affairs, must prompt a wholesale reorganization of events into a somewhat less melancholic configuration. McKillip's hallmarks are charm and elegance, diminished here by busy, fussy plotting, lack of suspense and little expectation that the characters might solve their problems by their ownefforts.