Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Patricia McKillip —

Has a guest post up today at Fantasy Book Cafe! I’m sure you’ll want to go take a look!

In honor of this post, let me pose the question: If you could pick JUST ONE McKillip novel as your very, very favorite, which would it be?

I know! Impossible, right?

If I am totally forced to choose, I would pick The Book of Atrix Wolfe. I think.

Oh, it’s painful to pick just one!

How about you all? What’s your very favorite McKillip novel?

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18 Comments Patricia McKillip —

  1. Robert Massey

    As you say, it’s impossible for me to choose just one. I really love Alphabet of Thorn. But last year, I re-read the Riddle of the Stars trilogy. I did so with some trepidation. Would I love it as much as I did when I first discovered it as a teenager? I’ve discovered that many of the books I loved then are best kept as a fond memory. But I’m happy to report that Riddle of the Stars was every bit as captivating now as it was then. So that’s a long-winded way of saying that it is still a favorite, though I’m further cheating by counting three books as one!

  2. Elaine T

    Oh, that’s a hard one. RIDDLE, ATRIX WOLFE, and FOOL’S RUN are all real favorites, although all the others aren’t very much below them……wavers….. FOOL’S RUN, I think. I hauled or WOLFE along on vacations for many years. (Riddle, being three hardcovers, I tend to leave home. I wonder what McKillip is available on Kindle?) I reserve the right to change my answer next time. :-)

  3. Rachel

    The Riddlemaster trilogy is one where, if I pick up a book and flip it open and read a few lines? I will definitely wind up reading it straight through. Again.

  4. Charlotte

    Judging simply on the hard data available, which is to say, which books are falling aparat from re-reading, I’d have to go with the Riddlemaster trilogy too. Although it’s not quite fair, since I started reading and re-reading them in the days when I never had enough books to read…

  5. Rachel

    Ha — so funny that you have OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE of which ones are your favorites.

    It’s interesting to see such a spread — don’t think we’ve had any repeats yet!

  6. Craig

    For me it’s probably FOOL’S RUN (first repeat choice!), though I wonder if the fact that it’s SF and not fantasy makes it stand out more from among her works.

    A book that nobody’s mentioned yet is THE SORCERESS AND THE CYGNET, which might rise to the top of my list except that I canNOT work out what exactly is supposed to be going on there at the end.

  7. Elaine T

    Craig, I pulled SORCERESS down from the shelf last night to reread. It is awfully good. I was wondering why I like it so much and my backbrain links it to ATRIX WOLFE.

    I’d be happy to help you figure it out, if you want to post more about what confuses you, and Rachel doesn’t mind.

    I think I’ve figured out the link to AW is that both wizards (Nyx & Atrix Wolfe) have done something that uses their power wrongly and they have to be pulled back on track. Don’t know how I missed that before.

  8. Rachel

    I’d be delighted to have a debate about what exactly happens at the end of SORCERESS. Which is definitely on my top ten list, though, I think I like FIREBIRD even better.

    So, it seems like the other gods (or constellations, or whatever they are) are enemies of the Cygnet, only then at the end they all seem like they might actually have been cooperating to get something to happen. Elaine, do you think you have a definite answer for who was actually on what side and what the point of all that apparent conflict actually was?

  9. Elaine T

    To me, it was that the Cygnet was going corrupt/wrong/evil cue to its heart being in Nyx and Nyx going all bogwitch. And the others, the gods/constellations were trying to pull it back.

    The point was to get Nyx back – she seems to have been decent for most of her life – to where she allows care for someone or something other than power to move her to action. To see that power isn’t all there is. Or maybe she just hadn’t had to face the issue of misuse of power before, having started with the decent magics.

    As the Gold King says “look another way and it is Cygnet fighting us” not them resisting Cygnet’s rule. And “When the heart casts shadow instead of dancing light…” Nyx’ heart, which was also Cygnet’s heart was casting shadow. She’d turned away from any restraint, as is shown by her bogwitching and her abuse of Meguet for power. Somewhere towards the end, Meguet, IIRC, says “I don’t know which is more danger your heart, or the Cygnet’s.” Cygnet is a child swan, with limited vision. Nyx’ vision is limited to power and she clutches at it fiercely. Look at when things shift in the maze: when she shows some heart : apologizing with real feeling to Meguet. That’s what the Hold Signs were looking for. They had to bring her back the larger vision. to see that there is more that matters than power. When she forgot everything except saving Corleu they got it.

    So they were fighting the bad side of Cygnet, you might say, forcing her back to the side of good, so they’d be free – for Tinker/Gold King – and somehow at a mature balance: able to know and understand without doing.

    That’s how I read it.

    It ties in with the concerns in Atrix Wolfe because he’d also turned his power to evil although he only wanted to show evil, he brought it into being; and that needed to be set right. he also needed to know what he’d done, before it could be set right. Nyx needed to understand, too.

    McKillip wrote it better. But I hope this makes some sense.

  10. Elaine T

    It explains most of the silence from Meguet’s Guardians, too. They knew what was happening was necessary. There was threat, yes, but part of the threat WAS what they guard. It was all a desperate gamble.

  11. Craig

    I remember coming up with a couple of interpretations and having one detail that didn’t fit. One of them was that the Hold Signs were all working to heal the Cygnet’s heart; unfortunately, I can’t remember what the detail was that I had problems with.

    Hm. If *all* the Hold Signs have a dark side and a light side, that may resolve everything; I don’t think I ever considered that.

    I hadn’t seen an Atrix Wolfe connection before. Wolfe’s misuse of power got tangled up with powers not his own, and I don’t think there’s anything quite like that here — although actually Nyx had no idea her magic was bound up to the Cygnet, so there’s that.

  12. Carty Finkenweiner

    If I’m allowed to count the Riddle-Master trilogy as one book that would be my pick, however if I can’t cheat like that I might pick Alphabet of Thorns? Hard to choose though :)

  13. Rachel

    The Riddle Master is all one story, so I think it counts as one. And yes, it’s REALLY hard to decide between McKillip’s stories for me, too!

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