I’ve decided I must never have read the Riddle-Master trilogy in its entirety at all. Maybe I only got as far as the story about Deth frightening the inhospitable man to death, and that’s why that bit stuck in my mind so vividly.
I most certainly did not remember, if I ever knew at all, that this is one of those “trilogies” that is really one long book split into three parts. I began to wonder, with some quiet anxiety, as I headed into the final ten pages and the story seemed clearly to be building to a grand final confrontation without space enough for grand or final, nor even much room for confrontation. And indeed, it ends on a cliffhanger. I’m dangling by my fingertips here.
McKillip’s worldbuilding is lush and layered, quite captivating. You can smell the rich soil of Hed, the sea tang of the Wind Plain, the crisp piney air of Isig. The characters are more distinct in their outer qualities—powers, homes, appearance—than in their voices, their personalities, but this is not a weakness; the outer details are sharp and vivid, and the prose is gorgeous. I like Morgan’s indecision and stubbornness; it’s funny how the Hed characters—even the ones who only appear in the opening of the book—have the most distinctive personalities. Mostly, though, this is a tumble-me-along story, plot-driven: I’m desperate to know what happens next.
Which is somewhat maddening, since today brought the magical surprise that A. S. Byatt has written a book called Ragnarok based on, yes, the gods of Asgard—but tied somehow to WWII Britain—and a review copy winged its way to my Kindle this afternoon, and my eagerness to dive into this book is roughly equivalent to the irresistible temptation experienced by the kids in the marshmallow experiment. It’ll take me the rest of the week, at least, to finish the other two Riddle-Master books. I’ve got to know what happens to Morgon and Raederle. But…Ragnarok! Byatt!
Maybe just a little taste?
Photos from my SCBWI talk on middle-grade and chapter books
“Once there was a very fine clock named Ticky.”
How it feels…