Books · Fantasy

Review: Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip

This is probably my favourite fantasy novel that I’ve read this year. (Thanks, Jen, for helping me choose this instead of Od Magic! Although, if I chose Od Magic, I’d probably be saying the same thing about this book… hmm…)

While this story is set in a different and complex world, McKillip doesn’t waste too much time explaining how the world works. The Twelve Crowns of Raine is a kingdom that treasures its mages and scholars, and the new queen seems too young to rule and reluctant to learn the things she needs in order to do so. While in most fantasy novels I’d get lost in the politics and wars and all the different characters and countries to remember, this book doesn’t really give out extra information that would clutter the story. Even with the war brewing and threatening to destroy the kingdom, the story takes place (for the most part) in the palace library, where Nepenthe, an orphan with a gift for translation who was raised by librarians, becomes more and more obsessed with a book written in a language that others could not decipher and has no interest in. As Nepenthe delves deeper into the mysteries of Axis and Kane, two legendary conquerors from so long ago they have almost become myth, the kingdom of Raine steps closer to doom.

I enjoyed the language immensely; it really pulls me into the story so fast I was halfway through before I realized it. Added to the setting (the woods and the Floating School and the palace library all seemed so real and so wonderful), it reminded me of why I go for this sort of fantasy rather than the generic “I want to be the next J.R.R. Tolkien” epics.  Reading this has made me worried that I might not complete my R.I.P. III challenge (and only 1 more book to go, too!) because instead of going through my TBR list I’m compiling a new reading list in my head, one that includes mostly Patricia McKillip and Robin McKinley and Juliet Marillier and Charles de Lint, with a sprinkling of Cameron Dokey’s Once Upon A Time books. I have a list of 25 books (at least) to order/buy and put on top of TBR list. I’m in trouble….

~ originally posted on blogspot


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