Monday, May 10, 2004

As a reader, I adore Patricia McKillip. As a writer, I loathe her.

For writers like John Grisham or Brian Jacques, one assumes that the reason they publish only one book a year is because people would notice more quickly that they're just recycling plots. But somehow Patricia McKillip manages to pop out books at a disgustingly regular rate while still making them GOOD. I hate her.

No, actually I really like her a lot. Although her last few books have been a little too enigmatic for me, Alphabet of Thorn is fantastic. Odious says he didn't care much for it, but then he's been reading Heidegger lately, so that illustrates his taste (or lack thereof). [Looking over my shoulder, he protests that that's a low blow, especially since he just brought me a chocolate croissant. Yum.] Anyway, I liked Alphabet of Thorn because it was a good story and I could understand it. And who can resist the appeal of time travel? Certainly not the sorceress Kane, or so it seems to the young translator Nepenthe as she untangles the thorny words of an ancient manuscript to reveal an unbelievable story. While cranky mages question Nepenthe's lover Bourne about his involvement in his uncle's rebellion, and the strange young queen wanders around in the wood practicing invisibility, the nearly forgotten history of Kane and Axis, the emperor she loved, becomes more and more relevant to the present world.

McKillip's writing is, as always, elegant and evocative, and her storytelling abilities are superb.

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