Like Ursula K. Le Guin and Jane Yolen, World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip (author of Riddle-Master
, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
, and Ombria in Shadow
) is one of the great fantasy authors working at the turn of the millennium. In her beautifully written novel In the Forests of Serre
, McKillip again demonstrates her intimate understanding of the mysteries of magic and the human heart.
Everyone in the kingdom of Serre avoids the Mother of All Witches, an ugly, powerful, and dangerous woman who lives in the Forest of Serre. But then the grief-blinded Prince of Serre rides down the witch's white hen and earns her curse. Prince Ronan believes nothing can be worse than what he has already experienced: the death of his wife and their newborn. But soon the curse destroys what little the prince has left, and he wanders lost and half-mad through the Forest of Serre, pursuing a beautiful, elusive firebird that may be an illusion, or his doom. His only hope may be the young Princess Sidonie of Dacia, to whom his brutal father betrothed him against his will... and hers. But Princess Sidonie may have no interest in helping a man she's never met. And her powerful, mysterious magician-guardian, Gyre, has secret intentions and desires of his own. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
In a twist on the Biblical adage "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," McKillip (Ombria in Shadow) presents a mystical, eerie fantasy about the flight from love-and the haphazard progress toward love. The efforts of a kingdom to prevent war by sacrificing its princess, Sidonie, to a loveless marriage are complicated by the refusal of the intended bridegroom, Prince Ronan of Serre, to cooperate. Sidonie obeys to save her country from sure destruction. Ronan flees from his fate with the magical interference of the Forests of Serre, the mysterious witch Brume and a firebird whose song becomes a pied piper-like enchantment. Meetings with Brume exact a dear price, and nearly every character encounters her at some point. To some, Brume can be death itself; others merely have to give her something of great value. Ronan offers "what of all such things he valued least, and would not miss if he did not return for it. `Take my heart.'" And indeed, Brume does take his heart. Ronan doesn't seem to miss what he felt he lacked to begin with, but Sidonie does, and so do his parents. This novel is similar in style and content to McKillip's World Fantasy Award-winning story, "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld," which is not to say it's a rehash. A skillfully told adult fairy tale, it stands perfectly well on its own.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.