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The Gift Paperback – August 15, 1998
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The Gift is the second book from up-and-coming author Patrick O'Leary, and is quite a departure from his wonderful and zany first novel, Door Number Three. The Gift is largely a dark fantasy novel, focusing on a world where magic and storytelling hold sway, although there are some distinctive science fiction overtones. The protagonists are a young king named Simon, who has lost his hearing, and a young woodcutter named Tim, who has lost his family. Both are on a similar quest: they're attempting to find and destroy The Usher of Night, a twisted sorcerer who has unleashed an ancient evil, and who has caused both men great suffering. Although the quest might make this novel sound like a conventional fantasy, it's anything but. O'Leary clearly shows that he enjoys bending genre boundaries as much as he enjoys telling a good story. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
O'Leary made a widely praised sf debut with his first novel, Door Number Three (LJ 9/15/95). Here he weaves a magical tale about the Usher of the Night, a deaf boy king, and Tim, the woodcutter's son, who becomes the Wind Tamer. In a land where most magic has been forgotten, only Mother Death can vanquish the Usher of the Night, with help from the Wind Tamer. O'Leary cleverly embeds tales within tales as he layers and intersects his story lines. For larger fantasy collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There is a level of...consciousness-shift that one has to assume to read this book. A very quantitative/cynical mind will not enjoy it, purely because it won't let itself.
But personally, this has remained my favorite book for years. I have given it as gifts, and have started bookclubs for it. It is high fantasy, with a level of sci-fi alterable to personal preference, delivering a message I believe is very important. Give it a read.
At under 300 pages O'Leary packs an incredible amount of content, but there is an artful precision to every part as the stories fit with and complement each other in an elaborate puzzle greater than the sum of its pieces. Very welcome in this age of overblown multi-volume epics.
I read this book over two nights and in the days after became so aware of how often in conversation we are telling tales- not meaning that people are being dishonest- just that people paint a picture of "what really happened" based on what they feel is the message of the story. And it is in telling our own particular and unique stories that others come to know us.
I loved the characters, the story, the stories-within-the-story, and yes, the ending. I can see how one would think it contrived or too neat, but I felt as if O'Leary meant it that way as a perfectly fitting lid to this decorative box filled only with more boxes.
The book is self-consciously improbable. Early on the author tells us that the book is about "monsters." Most of the book is a tale within a tale, woven by a bard-type character on board a ship, so it seemed natural to me that he used character types rather than fully fleshed-out characters. Yet the story of courage, success, failure, loss, sacrifice, and friendship is one that can stir the heart and speak to all.
This story could also be looked at as a modern fairy tale, although it is closer to the Grimm's end of the Disney-Grimm spectrum (with Disney being the light, often saccharine version and Grimm being the dark, unnecessarily gruesome version).