Review: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
Published by Tachyon Publications on September 17th 2017
Winner of the World Fantasy Award
“Rich and regal.”—New York Times
Young 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 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—and the possibility of more power than she can possibly imagine.
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is one of the true classics of fantasy literature.
One of the largest holes in my fantasy reading repertoire is older works. I’ve been reading the genre for only about 5 years, so I missing practically a lifetime of reading, and I have to confess to being easily distracted by all the new and shiny books as they are released. So when people talk about classics of fantasy, I’m ashamed to admit that I usually don’t have much to contribute.
When Tachyon offered a copy of this for review, I jumped on it. I have heard McKillip recommended quite a bit, and this is supposed to be a great starting point to her books. I am glad I decided to go for it. And I have to confess to the extra incentive: I love their cover. I know, I shouldn’t judge, but a gorgeous cover is always a bonus for a book.
I found The Forgotten Beasts of Eld to be a nice fairy tale type of story. It centers on a young sorceress who grew up rather isolated. She has had minimal human interaction, but she has a number of creatures to her occupied and provide companionship. But of course, no matter how heart felt her interactions are with them, it is not the same as learning social customs with other people. Her character is the type that I find myself quickly enjoying and intrigued by.
But of course, to make things interesting, her quiet solace in the mountains is interrupted by a soldier, who has brought a baby. He places the baby in her charge, which given her experience with humans, was an interesting turn of events. Taking on the care and upbringing of the baby really highlighted just how sheltered she has been in her life.
The book is short, so the world building can’t be too extensive, and the plot has to be be resolved in a shorter time frame. I think for the page length, the world was developed quite efficiently and created an interesting setting and world.
I enjoyed the main character, and I love how she learns the value of other people, but still is fiercely independent.
There were moments where I may have felt things were just a bit rushed, but overall, I really don’t think it was an issue. It is just a different type of read, and I think it worked very well.
The book is full of magic, wonder and fantastic creatures. It tells a heart warming story of an independent woman who grows as a person and learns some important life lessons. This really is a wonderful read, and I fully understand why McKillip is recommended so highly.