The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip: Beautiful Classic

Fifty years ago, the soon-to-be celebrated young author Patricia A. McKillip (the Riddle-Master trilogy) penned the classic tale of an iron-willed young sorceress and her captivating menagerie. This lovely 50th anniversary hardcover special edition features new illustrations and a new introduction, as well as original cover art by an award-winning illustrator.

Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no-one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the exquisite and mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments.

But when a soldier bearing an infant arrives, Sybel discovers that the world of man and magic is full of both love and deceit, with the possibility of more power than she can possibly imagine.

If you’ve never read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip, you have missed out on a beautiful classic, full of lyrical language and a powerful story. If you have read this, re-visit this classic on the 50th anniversary to see new illustrations and a gorgeous introduction by writers who fell in love with this story long ago, like I did. 

One of the elements I love the most about this lovely story is the powerful characters, the effortless power of Sybel and the haunting portrayal of humanity, both the bright, hopeful side but also the dark side of emotions. Sybel’s discovery of her human side is impressive and glorious to read. The words and ideas are still as profound as they were when I first read this novel. 

I also love the intelligence of each of the beasts, how amazing they are and how each adds flavor to the story and helps Sybel. Each character has a purpose in the story. Best yet, there are layers and layers to the story. Each time you read it something new will unfold for you. In the past, I remembered the beasts the most. In this reading, I recalled the emotions between Sybel and Coran, with Tamlin, and how the writing of those emotions impacted me as a reader. The lyrical language is beautiful to read and the story will haunt you. 

If you love a classic fantasy with a powerful female wizard, this is a story to read or re-visit. Trust me, if you haven’t read this in a while, it totally is worth a re-read, just to capture a different impression of the story. The novel’s layers and emotions will still impress and the words will haunt you. And the characters will make you breathless.

5 out of 5 beasts. 

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