Friday, September 8, 2017

Review: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Patricia A. McKillip
Original Release: January 1, 1974
Ebook Release: September 19, 2017
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Winner of the World Fantasy Award

“Rich and regal.”
—New York Times

Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments.

But when a soldier bearing an infant arrives, Sybel discovers that the world of man and magic is full of both love and deceit—and the possibility of more power than she can possibly imagine.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is one of the true classics of fantasy literature.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld was one of the books of my childhood. I found it nestled close to The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley and knew I had to read it as soon as I saw the dragon on the cover. Mini Rose Red was very easy to please back then. I remember loving it when I first read it but I never got around to rereading. When I saw it on Edelweiss for request, I knew it was time for a reread.

The answer to the question if I still love this book is a resounding yes! It's a wonderful fantasy standalone featuring a reclusive witch who calls mythical beasts to her as their legends fade. Her world is turned upside down when a baby is left in her charge. It's not only because of the baby but because of the clever prince who dropped him off. One of the best descriptions I've heard for this book is that it's like a Grimm Brother's fairy tale stretched out to novel-length. It’s full of fantasy elements but the real struggle is between taking revenge and being true to who you really are and those you love.

While the dialogue is sparse and the book is short, there is a lot of character growth and plenty of meat to the plot. There was also enough magic and surprises to keep me turning the pages. The writing is lyrical with gorgeous prose but the best thing about it is that it's filled with intriguing characters you won't soon forget. I would include the beasts in that description. They're both wistful and sarcastic and I just love them a whole lot. I'm pretty sure this book in combination with Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles is what started my love for magical creatures and their mythology. 

This book holds up twenty years later but I will admit that a lot of the themes/morals went over my head as a kid. It's a story of love, betrayal, and forgiveness. It explores the difference in power between men and women and how both love and hate can be destructive forces. It's way more than the magical creature book I remember it being. I will say that I still want to be a silver-haired wizard in a tower with magical beasts like mini Rose Red did all those years ago

This book is a World Fantasy Award winner for a damn good reason. It's the only McKillip book I've read so far but I'm after this reread I'm going to have to change that ASAP. 

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.

  4 / 5 Stars

Recommended for fans of:The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

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