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The Innkeeper's Song Paperback – March 1, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this Locus Award-winning novel, young Tikat enters a shadow world of magic and mystery as he searches for the lover whose death and resurrection he witnessed. It's a wild ride that sets him on the trail of three cloaked women who are on a mission of their own.

"A beautifully written tale of love and loss, set in a world of hard-edged magic." --The New York Times Book Review

" A wonderfully astonishing novel... a tour de force." --Washington Post Book World

From Library Journal

Three powerful women (each with her own secret past), a stable boy, a weaver's son, and an innkeeper set in motion a series of events that brings each of them face to face with the forces of magic and the workings of fate. Beagle ( The Last Unicorn , LJ 5/15/68; The Folk of the Air , Ballantine, 1987) uses many voices to tell this tale of love and death and what lies beyond both. A finely crafted piece as well as a rich, evocative fantasy, this novel should have broad appeal.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Roc Trade (October 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451454146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451454140
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,000,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter S. Beagle was born in 1939 and raised in the Bronx, where he grew up surrounded by the arts and education: both his parents were teachers, three of his uncles were world-renowned gallery painters, and his immigrant grandfather was a respected writer, in Hebrew, of Jewish fiction and folktales. As a child Peter used to sit by himself in the stairwell of the apartment building he lived in, staring at the mailboxes across the way and making up stories to entertain himself. Today, thanks to classics like THE LAST UNICORN, A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE, and "Two Hearts," he is a living icon of fantasy fiction.

In addition to eight novels and over one hundred pieces of short fiction, Peter has written many teleplays and screenplays (including the animated versions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE LAST UNICORN); six nonfiction books (among them the classic travel memoir I SEE BY MY OUTFIT); the libretto for one opera; and more than seventy published poems and songs. He currently makes his home in Oakland, California.

On his birthday in 2013 Peter and Conlan Press launched a screening tour of THE LAST UNICORN film that has so far put on more than 300 screenings in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Austria, and which will appear in several thousand different theaters around the world by the end of 2016.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Peter Beagle has a reputation as a young adult's author -- why, I'll never know. I didn't much like him as a teenager, but the older I get, the more I admire and enjoy his fantasies. The Innkeeper's Song is a beautiful book, but certainly better for 30 than 13 -- unless, perhaps, for a 13-year-old who has already had to deal with death. It concerns attempts to cheat death by magic, and the strange and unforeseen consequences, both good and ill, of raising a drowned young woman from the dead. The book is also noteworthy for a varied and unforgettable cast of characters who take turns narrating the story, giving the reader many perspectives on the same events and aiding suspense by concealing certain facts until the narrator shifts to someone in the know. Beagle's writing is so beautiful it's practically musical. I recommend this book highly to anyone who loves fantasy, folklore, mythology, and the grand old tradition of storytelling.
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Format: Library Binding
The Innkeeper's Song is a one-volume fantasy for mature readers that is by turns (or even simultaneously) lyrical and maddening. Lyrical because much of its language is, in contemporary fantasy, on par with only Patricia McKillip and Guy Gavriel Kay. Maddening because--despite the full-throttle beginning, intricately woven characters and a world made wondrous without a map or long descriptions but simply by names and prosaic brushstrokes--the promise of the beginning and middle absolutely fizzles to a all-but-incomprehensible anti-climax in which none of the characters' skills, virtues or flaws seem to matter. It's the equivalent of dreaming oneself into a world of rich and dread beauty, flying over that world so freely as to go beyond dreaming entirely ... and then being slapped awake to find oneself flailing at the air and wondering, "What might have been ..."
The tale concerns three women who arrive at an inn in the course of their quest to protect their ancient magician-friend from a renegade apprentice so that he might die in peace and not rise as a tormented ghost. The three are a warrior-nun who has escaped her convent; a legendary thief-sailor-swordsman; and a village girl whom the thief raised from a drowning death with the magician's ring. Added to these memorable figures are the earnest stable-boy; the gruff innkeeper; the nun's companion (a fox); and the stubborn boy who was betrothed to the village girl and follows her in the hope of reclaiming their lost love.
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Format: Paperback
Beagle is one of the finest fantasy novelists currently writing, and for those who hunger for mature and literate stories his work appears far too infrequently. As in "The Last Unicorn" or "The Folk Of The Air", his writing rises far beyond the typical trappings of sword & sorcery. In "The Innkeeper's Song", Beagle starts us off with what appear to be recognizeable fantasy cliches - the old wizard, hard-bitten mercenaries, the crotchety taverner - and then stands each of them on their heads. Instead, Beagle weaves a subtle, intricate tale of deception, loyalty, and love, in which the characters having the adventure are at least as important as the adventure itself. By writing each chapter from the first-person perspective of a different character, he not only underscores differences in perception, but takes the reader deep inside each of his literary creations. In the hands of a lesser writer, this would be nothing but an annoying gimmick. But under Beagle's masterful guidance, it serves to make these characters living, breathing people. From hard, competent swordswoman Lal, to the dreamy stableboy Rosseth, to fat, cynical innkeeper Karsh, the reader comes to know them like old friends. A marvelous story which will linger in the mind long after the last page is read.
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Format: Paperback
I was waiting for this. A fantasy novel that doesn't involve games of state (I guess I should say kingdom), plots of kings and princes, teenage hero + party of five deliver world from evil doom, or the quest for the magic sword. Instead, you get treated to a very quiet tale about a couple of characters who all converge at an inn. No earth-shattering battles. Rather, the tale deals with questions of loyalty and friendship in a very personal way, never overdoing it, not going for the cheap drama. If the plot is rather simple, the book more than makes up for it with the characters and world-building. Beautiful writing and a fresh taste.
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Format: Paperback
I have not read Beagle's earlier work (though I have since read Giant Bones). I was suprisingly captivated by this book. I agree with some of the reviewers here that some of the shifts in character perspective are slightly clumsy (it seems odd to include sections by Lisonje and Marinesha if they only appear once or twice), and that some of the storytelling is over-the-top. But in general, I was stunned by the depth of the world which Beagle created. Someone commented that the world he created was stark -- which is precisely why I liked it. It is not filled with sylvan glens, impossibly wise and beautiful elves, dour dwarves, or fantastic dark towers wherein true evil lies. It feels very solid. The characters, through straightforward but powerful language, establish themselves as real people, rather than "high fantasy" sterotyped flat "heroes." Karsh is a man you love and hate; Rosseth is a teenager whose thoughts recall exactly what was going on in you during those years; Lal and Nyanteneri and Lukassa all break through both the "warrior-woman" and the "helpless maiden" roles to become developed characters. And, perhaps most intriguing of all, Beagle leaves mysteries unsolved, questions unanswered. You feel that his world is complete, but he has no need to strut around proving to the reader what a clever man he is for having devolped such a complex, rich reality. I cannot recommend this book enough to those interested in good fantasy which doesn't fall into the traditional traps of the genre.
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