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.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Author: Patricia McKillip
Publication Date: September 15, 2017
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Page Count: 240
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: Thomas Canty
My Rating: ★★★★★1/2
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
“I need you to forgive me. And then perhaps I can begin to forgive myself. There is no one but you who can do that either.”
A book like this is intimidating to pick up. Not because it is mundane, nor because it is necessarily daunting (although it is, in a way). No, my friends. This book entails every aspect that fantasy writing is about, and it is truly breathtaking. Being disappointed with other fantasy reads after this book is why it is intimidating.
Compared to the writing of today’s YA novels, this book automatically takes the lead in its overall quality. Its writing style, detail to plot and meaningfulness are (in my opinion) so much more when compared to what is out there today.
We are dropped into a new world, that isn’t ever fully explained. Because of this, the reader is allowed to be left with a sense of yearning and wonderment to know more. To me, this is the key element to draw in the reader, and to make them thirst for more. Over-explanation of detail only “dumbs down” the writing to be taken at face-value, rather than allowing the readers’ imagination to run wild. The tidbits that we are privy to are delicious, whimsical, and truly meaningful.
Now, to the story…
Our main character Sybel, is the daughter of Ogam, a man born from a line of wizards. His special powers allowed him to “call” many spectacular creatures to live among his castle walls, safely nestled in the mountains of Eld. Sybel, growing up in a world separate from the one she lives in, knows little of the outside world. She cares little for the dealings of men, and spends her time tending her beloved creatures, and calling the fabled Lorien, a mythical white bird, to join her.
Her solitude is interrupted when an unbidden man brings a baby to her doorsteps, insisting that she takes the child in and raises him in a place far away from the warring nations outside her walls. She consents, and realizes that she must learn what it means to love another human–something she is not used to doing.
As the child grows into a young man, Sybel develops a strong, motherly connection to him. But as he comes of age, Tamlorn is sought out, and called to rejoin the world of men, and take his rightful place as prince. Sybel calls Tamlorn’s father, the king Drede to her to discuss terms for Tamlorn. When Drede meets Sybel, he immediately falls in love with her, and extends the offer for her to join him and Tamlorn.
Because of Sybel’s odd upbringing and talents, she has developed a rather cold character. She doesn’t know, or care much for the toils of men. That is, until she discovers that she is used by one who desires her for her power.
“It is not a bad thing, itself, but it is a bad thing to be used by men, to have them choose what you must be, and what you must not be, to have little choice in your life.”
Sybel’s outlook on mankind transforms into a dark and corrupting thing, causing her to unabashedly use others to cast her revenge. But her desires for revenge do not come without their consequences.
“The giant Grof was hit in one eye by a stone, and that eye turned inward so that it looked into his mind and he died of what he saw there.”
As Sybel experiences life, love, loss, and joy, she must either grow, or forever be locked in the dark shackles of revenge, hurt, and mistrust. Because her character basically starts from zero, the reader gets to watch her “transform” as she learns more about human nature.
There are two different points in this book that I didn’t necessarily like, and made me take a half-star off:
#1 Because this is a shorter novel, changes aren’t always allowed enough time to happen without feeling a bit forced. An example of this is Sybel’s character. She changes so much in such a short amount of time, that it isn’t always believable.
#2 I felt that the imaginative expression could be slightly overwhelming at times, and could have used a bit more explanation.
Despite these two things, it is without a doubt that this is a beautiful story of growth, hardship, healing, and forgiveness. I would highly recommend this read to any lover of young adult fantasy.
Random side note: I think that Sybel is the original white-haired, dragon wielding heroine. Not Khaleesi.
Vulgarity: None that I recall.
Sexual content: Some advances are made towards Sybel, but they are stopped before anything happens.
My Rating: ★★★★1/2
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