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The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Patricia A. McKillip
Gollancz, 199 pages

Patricia A. McKillip
Patricia McKillip started writing as a teenager. Her interest in writing fantasy blossomed after reading Lord of the Rings. She is the winner of the World Fantasy Award, and author of many fantasy novels, including The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, The Riddlemaster of Hed, The Sorceress and the Cygnet, and The Cygnet and the Firebird. Recent novels include Winter Rose, The Book of Atrix Wolf and Song for the Basilisk. She lives in Roxbury, New York.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Ombria in Shadow
SF Site Review: The Tower at Stony Wood
SF Site Review: Riddle-Master: The Complete Trilogy
SF Site Review: Song for the Basilisk

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld There is a sense of antiquity about this book -- and by that I don't mean dusty obsolescence and a sliding into oblivion. On the contrary, this is one of those shining complex things that our ancestors seemed to find it easy to do and that we have somehow forgotten in the rush and spin of our modern days -- this has the feel to it of a tale that has come down from some ancient dawn, a day long gone, but it is bright with the ancient magic and it feels ageless, eternal, light and perfect like a star.

In its day, this was the book that won Patricia McKillip the World Fantasy Award for best novel -- I have no doubt that back in 1974, when it was first published, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld carried within it the same sense of timelessness as it does now. This is a story that always was. It was simply called (like McKillip's heroine does to her mythical beasts) into book form by the author, called by name, and charged to remain set in a tangible form so that even those who had not heard it told before could know of it.

There are fantasy tropes aplenty in this book -- animals that never were and that you wish could have been, cold sorcery, human drama involving inheritances and betrayals and wise enchantresses lost prince-heirs and much else besides. McKillip weaves them with the light touch of her own magic. It might all sound kind of recognisable, even familiar -- there are dozens and dozens of fantasy tales involving talking beasts and dragons and human wars and romances -- but somehow, here, you feel like you're drinking it from the source. All those other books think they know the recipe and have all the ingredients, and the recipe seems to be easy enough, on the surface -- but McKillip has thrown in a cup of clear water gathered from the wellspring of all enchantment. The result is something rich and strange despite its apparent familiarity.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a book which ought to be a part of every fantasy lover's library.

Copyright © 2006 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves." When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her international success, The Secrets of Jin Shei, has been translated into ten languages worldwide, and its follow-up, Embers of Heaven, is coming out in 2006. She is also the author of the fantasy duology The Hidden Queen and Changer of Days, and is currently working on a new YA trilogy to be released in the winter of 2006.

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