By Patricia A. McKillip; Read by Gabrielle de Cuir
10 CDs – 11.7 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Themes: / Fantasy / Wizard School / Monarchy / Herbalism /
I had a hard time, at first, getting into this book. I didn’t relate to Brenden Vetch, who lost his parents, then his brother and girlfriend left him because he spent hours and days in the wilderness listening to and talking to plants.
Then he encounters Od, a giantess, who invites him to go to Kelior the capital city where the King lives, and become the gardener at the school of magic.
Brenden goes to Kelior, and for me, this is where the story starts to get interesting. He meets the teachers and students and keeps to himself a lot. Brenden, I’m afraid, is boring.
Fortunately, it is also here that we are introduced to the secondary characters. Valoren, the King’s wizard and a nobleman, Yar, one of the wizard teachers, Lady Thiel, cousin to Valoren and amour of Yar. Sulis, the King’s daughter, Arnath, Quarter Warden over the Twilight Quarter and Mistral, daughter of Tiriman, a magician who is visiting the Twilight Quarter.
King Galin keeps a very tight control over how and when magic is used in his kingdom. You have to be trained in the school of magic and you can only use magic the way you are taught. Everything else is forbidden. You can see the problem and where the story is going.
Tiriman, a traveling magician, enters the Twilight Quarter and everyone begins to wonder if he is using real magic, or if he’s simply using tricks. Arnath is sent in to determine if Tiriman is a threat to the King or not. The King’s daughter slips into the Quarter to see Tiriman as she has been told of him by her great grandmother, Ditany.
The story gets more complex as Brenden is found to have magic (no surprise).
By the time the story gets to chapter 5, I can hardly wait to hear what happens next. And how everything gets resolved. The King’s daughter is betrothed and Arnath falls for Mistral, Tiriman’s daughter, as he tries to meet the illusive magician.
The story builds, the characters get themselves in trouble and I’m looking forward to a great resolution… and then it’s over. But things are not all neatly wrapped up. Some things are clearly resolved. There’s a moral, but I don’t mind it. To me, the ending feels too abrupt. Too sudden. I would like a little more… resolution.
Do I recommend the story? Yes, with reservations. I love the secondary characters and their stories. I really didn’t care about Od or Brenden. I still don’t. I think part of the ending is a bit too contrived. There were NO hints to look back on and say, “Oh! Now I get it.” I felt blindsided. That being said, if there were a sequel, I’d buy it just to see what happens next. There really needs to be a next.
If this had been the first part of a series, I’d be happier with the ending. As a stand-alone, I give it a 6 out of 10. Good, but not great. No RIddlemaster of Hed here. Alas. Her latest book is a sequel to “Tam Lin.” I’m going to go out and buy it.
*Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook. I never read the book. So, if I misspelled any of the character names, I apologize.
Posted by Charlene C. Harmon