Harpist in the Wind (Riddlemaster #3) ★★★☆ ½

harpistinthewind (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Harpist in the Wind
Series: Riddlemaster #3
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 260
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The shapeshifters from the Sea continue and escalate their battle against humanity. But their fighting makes no sense, as they simply occupy areas where the old Earthmasters cities used to be.

Morgan keeps on running away and Raederle keeps finding him and getting him back on track. It is revealed that the High One’s harpist, who betrayed Morgan, is actually the High One and that he was using Gwych for his own ends. Morgan and Gwych duke it out and Morgan, as the Starbearer, wins.

The Shapeshifters are revealed as the losers in a war between the Earthmasters. The High One is the last Earthmaster and when he dies, they will break loose and rule all creation. The High One has made Morgan his landheir and hopes his power can lock them away again.

Morgan succeeds with the help of all the kings and the queens of the land and he is now the High One, a fully human High One married to a sorceress of Earthmaster descent.

 

My Thoughts:

Honestly, so much happened so quickly that if you didn’t read every single sentence huge things would change in an eyeblink. Take Deth the Harpist. He’ supposedly dead and then he shows up as a Wizard and it all takes place in a sentence or as an aside.

Morgan was just as stubborn as the first book and I don’t realy like when a character is fighting against what they know is right “just because”. And then when he seals up the Shapeshifters so he doesn’t have to kill them, that was the exact same problem that the original High One had, for at one point they’ll break loose AGAIN and start the cycle all over. You don’t hold a threat in a pen, you destroy it.

Most likely the least enjoyable McKillip I’ve re-read so far. I wasn’t quite so confused as last time but my goodness, I wasn’t enthralled just kind of whirling along hoping to stay conscious until the end. Definitely would NOT recommend this for a first timer of McKillip. If I ever do another re-read of her stuff, I’m going to try to remember to skip this trilogy.

★★★☆ ½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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Heir of Sea and Fire (Riddlemaster #2) ★★★★☆

heirofseaandfire (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Heir of Sea and Fire
Series: Riddlemaster #2
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 215
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Raederle, the woman betrothed to Morgan, sets out to find him as he has gone missing. She hooks up with some others, one of them being Morgan’s younger sister and sails all over. Morgan has thoroughly disappeared though and the landheir power has been passed on to his brother. This usually means the original holder of said power is dead and almost everyone but Raederle believes Morgan to be dead.

Part way through Morgan is revealed to be alive and chasing after the Bard who betrayed him AND that the wizard Ohm has been masquerading as The One (the magical master of the whole land). Raederle must convince Morgan to not take his vengeance against the Bard as it will destroy who Morgan is.

Raederle also comes into powers of her own. She finds out that one of her ancestors was a shapeshifter from the sea and this blood has bestowed peculiar power to her. Considering that the shapeshifters were doing their best to kill Morgan in the previous book, Raederle isn’t sure how Morgan is going to act when he finds out his betrothed belongs to those who wanted him dead.

The book ends with a showdown between the dead of Hel, controlled by Raederle and the Bard and Morgan. Morgan is convinced to show mercy and then he and Raederle set out to track down Ohm and get some answers for all the mysteries going on.

 

My Thoughts:

While I am giving this 4stars this time, I completely understand myself for giving it 2 stars back in ’07. This was trying to tell a fantasy story that needed a trilogy and McKillip kept going between fantasy writerstyle of the day and her own style of lyrical prose. It makes for an unsettling read as at one point you’ll have everything spelled out for you and then 10 pages later some monumental revelation is made as an aside in some oblique reference to some myth.

That was the weakness of this book and I am not sure that it can truly overcome that weakness. It’s the same problem I had with Riddlemaster of Hed and the main reason I wouldn’t recommend these as starter books for someone looking to get into McKillip.

Now that being said, since I have already read almost everything of McKillip’s and am currently re-reading everything, I can appreciate this book for its strengths.

This borrows heavily from Welsh/Welch (love that grapejuice by the way!) myth with the lands of Hel, Awn, etc and the unsettled dead and magic held by the lands rulers. If you’ve ever read The Prydain Chronicles by Llloyd Alexander, you’ll recognize a lot of the places and situations McKillip uses in this book. I think having that pre-existing knowledge will help a lot in understanding just what is going on, since there is so much happening without being spelled out. McKillip was writing for a well-read audience and I think a more modern audience will miss out on a lot of references, references that make this a much fuller, richer story.

Raederle was a great character. She wasn’t pie in the eye in love with Morgan, since she had only known him as a friend growing up. But since he was her betrothed, she was going to find out what happened to him. It showed a core of steel in her character. That showed her as strong but not some kickass heroine where her femininity was completely overshadowed by her being a man with breasts. She wasn’t a warrior, she couldn’t sail the ship she was on but there was NEVER any doubt that it was Raederle driving and leading everyone else on. When she confronts Morgon about his quest for vengeance, she doesn’t kick his legs out from under him and pin him down until he submits. She supports the parts of him that she does admire and lets him see that and lets that support decide him.

The supporting characters, from Morgon’s younger sister to the ghost of the King of Hel (that is him on the cover, lusting after his skull, which had been nailed to a midden pile and that Raederle used as a bargaining chip in obtaining his help) to Morgon himself were just as good.

To end, I once again thoroughly enjoyed another McKillip story while definitely not recommending this as a starting place for anyone thinking about a McKillip journey. Get some “experience” with her as an author and then come back to this.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Riddlemaster of Hed (Riddlemaster #1) ★★★★☆

riddlemasterofhed (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Riddlemaster of Hed
Series: Riddlemaster #1
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 229
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Morgan, King of Hed, reveals, unwittingly, that he has beaten a ghost hundreds of years old at a game of Riddles and won a legendary crown, and possibly the hand of a princess. Unfortunately, this sets him on the trail of a riddle of himself and the 3 stars that adorn his head. He plans on ignoring the riddle and to settling down and ruling Hed, an island of farmers, but when his life and the lives of those he knows and loves are put in danger, Morgan realizes that he has to find the answer to the riddle.

His journey takes him to many a land and he learns how to shapeshift, to become as the trees and he finds a harp and a sword, both with the same 3 stars and all prophesied about millenia before. He finds that a threat that destroyed the Earthmasters is rising anew and now threatens all the lands again.

Morgan makes his way to Erlenstar Mountain, seat of the High One, the last of the Earthmasters. The book ends with him finding out that the High One is the High Wizard that destroyed all the other wizards and is also one of the Masters of Cathnard, the school of Riddling.

 

My Thoughts:

I can completely understand why I gave this 3 stars back in 2007. Morgan is one of those characters who fights against destiny more out of a mulish desire to be left alone and will make choices, no matter how bad, based on that mulish side of him. I still had issues with him this time around but it wasn’t nearly so bad, as I had a LOT of sympathy for the poor guy. I know I’d be the same way now.

The other reason is that this has touches of McKillip’s lyrical writing style but is trying to tell a straight on fantasy story and it can be hard to do that. Much more prose’y and so where I don’t mind the slow pace and hiding of information because of the poetry of her later writings, this didn’t have that advantage. I was frustrated at times where a character wouldn’t reveal info for no apparent reason. Since this was a re-read though, I know there is a reason and I just haven’t gotten to it yet. It is amazing how my attitude can change when I know that an apparent mystery isn’t just arbitrarily set forth but has a point by the author.

While the writing is more prosaical than her later stuff, I did not find that a strong point for this book. I’d also be hesitant to recommend this trilogy as a first try for someone new to McKillip. Let them taste the beauty of her writing from when she is more accomplished and then they’ll be able to appreciate what she has set forth to accomplish in this Riddlemaster trilogy.

Overall, I really enjoyed this with the occasional bout of frustration. I think I’m making the correct decision to not immediately dive into the second book but to wait until this trilogy comes back to its turn in the reading cycle. Time is a great ameliorator.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

 

Harpist in the Wind

Harpist in the Wind

Riddlemaster #3

Patricia McKillip

Fantasy

3 Stars

 

the finish up of the Riddlemaster Trilogy. I hardly understood a thing that was happening; it was much more poetically oriented like her later books. Morgon becomes the land-heir of the One and defeats the shapechangers, locking them into a mountain. It was just extremely confusing. I would not recommend this series as a first tryout for McKillip.

 

 

The Riddlemaster of Hed

The Riddlemaster of Hed

Riddlemaster #1

Patricia McKillip

Fantasy

222 Pages

3 Stars

 

The first in the Riddlemaster Trilogy. A destiny is forced upon the Landheir of Hed, a peaceful island of farmers. Stylewise, this was very prose. I could see the hints of her verse poking through, but nothing like some of her later books. Found this to be a little confusing and hope the next 2 books will shed more light on this new world.