August 8, 2011 @ 6:58 pm | Filed under: ,

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?

    Related Posts


5 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. sarah says:

    An impossible choice! You need a second brain.

  2. Ganeida says:

    I’ve never been able to get my hands on the entire Riddlemaster series. I have, I think, the 2nd book, which I love but it’s hard with no beginning & no ending. Glorious prose; great characters. I must try the library again.

  3. Ellie says:

    You know, when you first mentioned The Riddle-Master, it sounded weirdly familiar to me, but it wasn’t until this post, and your mentioning of the author’s name that it clicked. I definitely read these, but not since high school! Bless. I’ll have to check them out again (my library has them) once I’ve finished my reading/planning for the children’s Autumn Term (first booklists up! Go me! lol).

  4. Jane says:

    I read the Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy while I was in college – back when it first came out. It was among the first fantasy books I read, and helped set the hook for my permanent love of fantasy. I have read and re-read the books many times over the years, and it is still magical for me. In fact, my daughter was named after one of the characters in the second book of the trilogy – Lyra.

  5. Maureen E says:

    I love the Riddlemaster books! There’s such a piercing beauty to them–don’t quite know how to put it. I re-read them a month or two ago, by candlelight because our power was out.