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Golden Key [Mass Market Paperback]

Melanie Rawn
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 17 2000 Daw Book Collectors (Book 1031)
Life imitates Art--literally--when every stroke of a painter's brush changes the fabric of reality....

"Original in concept and superior in execution."-- Booklist

"Fresh and intelligent...sheer brilliance."-- Flint Journal

"A rich and entertaining tapestry...."-- Knoxville News Sentinel

"We are held spellbound...mesmerizing."-- Romantic Times

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From Amazon

The authors have devised a fascinating setting based on medieval Italian, Spanish and Portuguese models for a novel of love and power -- both political and sorcerous. This is one of the few genre books I've seen in which an effort is made to take religion into account as a social force, though, even here, it's watered down. The story spans centuries and centers on the limner Sario Grijalva, whose love for the arts he has mastered is corrupted by his egotism. Grijalva's ruthless use of sorcery can, however, be thwarted by chance events, and this novel thus avoids the pitfall of the unbelievably powerful (and dull) character. Many stories -- love stories, Machiavellian thrillers, coming-of-age stories and stories of magic -- are tightly wound together in this suspenseful, enthralling one-volume trilogy (yes! you get the whole story in one book!); the painterly focus is unusual and interesting, too. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The three Musketeers they're not, but judging by their finished product, the three authors who have collaborated on this hefty historical fantasy comprise a competent team. In exploring the relationships among art, magic and morality, Rawn (The Ruins of Ambrai), Roberson (the Cheysuli series) and Elliot (the Jaran series) have tried to create a novel that is seamless yet preserves their individual literary personalities. The narrative covers three generations in the mythical history of Tira Virte; each generation's story seems the work primarily of one of the three authors. For centuries, Tira Virte's do'Verrada Dukes have been manipulated by the gifted Grijalva family. Selected Grijalva women become First Mistresses, while male Grijalva artist-magicians, the sterile Limners, can direct human lives by incorporating their own vital juices into their pigments, a practice that causes them to die young and in agony. Unifying the book is the Machiavellian Limner Sario Grijalva, who achieves unnaturally long life by successively murdering 16 men and taking over their bodies. The novel begins with "Chieva do'Sangua," apparently by Rawn, which competently depicts Sario's daring youth, his domination of Tira Virte as Lord Limner and his complex desire for his equally talented artist-cousin Saavedra. This introduces the major theme of women whose biological imperatives conflict with the demands of their talents. Foiled by Saavedra's love for the handsome Duke Alejandro, Sario magically imprisons Saavedra in a ravishing portrait. "Chieva do'Sihirro," which displays Roberson's hand, is more pedestrian in concept, detailing Sario's incognito political engineering 300 years hence. Finally, the colorful "Chieva do'Orro" tidies up Tira Virte a generation later, bloodlessly establishing a constitutional government, releasing Saavedra from her enchantment and punishing Sario's villainy with a unique revenge that opens a door to shared-universe sequels. Perhaps Sario's last words here best sum up this long and involved experimental saga: "remember patience." Authors tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A brilliant painter's ambition to become the greatest artist who ever lived - and unnaturally extend his life long enough to do so - causes him to pervert his family's magics in this wonderful and highly original fantasy from bestselling authors Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliot. In a setting similar to medieval/Renaissance Spain or Italy (one of my favorite historical periods), the authors create here a magnificent canvas of beauty, love, bravery, cruelty, treachery, jealousy, political infighting, religious pageantry, war, plague, revolution, and, of course, artistic genius. As others have commented, this is not the standard 'hero/heroine on a quest' or 'wizard waves wand' fantasy, and all the richer for it.
In the duchy of Tira Virte works of art are not only valued for their beauty, but are used in lieu of written legal documents for treaties, wills, marriages, etc. One family of painters, the Grijalvas, have the secret of using magic to alter the reality that they depict in their paintings. The Gifted Limners (all male, with one exception) who have this power use their own body fluids to activate the spells, so they age and die very quickly, and are sterile. The Grijalvas also have to endure popular prejudice and religious discrimination because are descendants of Tza'ab bandits who raped Tira Virtean noblewomen. As well, they have to put up with the machinations of their rival family, the Serranos. Still, the Gifted Limners use their skills to bring peace and prosperity to Tira Virte and to support the rule of the do'Verrada ducal family.
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5.0 out of 5 stars (4.5) Oct. 3 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott collaborate here to create a novel that is very hard to put down--despite its formidable length and flattish characters. What drew me in was the carefully designed world, the totally believable magic, the overall mood, and the centuries-spanning plot. This novel is set in Tirra Virte, an Italy-ish province where all official ceremonies and transactions are recorded not with words but with paintings. I thoight for a moment--"Hey! That can't be reliable! The artist can paint something that didn't really happen!" But then it made me realize just how unreliable words, too, can be. A scribe can write lies as easily as an artist can paint them.
This art-centered world, of course, requires artists. This novel follows the rising and falling fortunes of one family of artists, the Grijalvas, who are almost indisputably the best artists in Tirra Virte. However, they are also decimated by a past plague, feared for their reputed sorcery, and shunned for carrying the blood of foreign rapists in their veins. A young Grijalva boy wants nothing so much as to be acknowledged "Gifted", an heir to the Grijalvas' genetic talents, but the art and magic come with a terrible price.
WARNING: possible SPOILERS
The book is divided into three sections, taking place in three different time periods. The sections are different enough in tone and style that I suspect each author wrote a section mostly by herself, with little collaboration except in world-building. However, I'm not familiar enough with the authors to guess who wrote what.
The first section is my personal favorite because of its brooding and menacing mood.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantasy Masterpiece Dec 28 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In a blurb from Booklist it says "...demands its place in most fantasy collections." I don't understand the use of the word "most", it should be in all fantasy collections. This book is amazing both in concept and execution. Exactly how Rawn, Roberson and Elliott divided up the collaboration I don't know, but the result is seamless and brilliant. The book is also almost unique in this day of multi-volume (or in Jordan's case, interminable)stories in that it is contained in a single volume. Added to this is its setting in the European Renaissance-like milieu against the usual pseudo-Medieval pre-industrial society. The authors have created a rich complexity without the usual plethora of characters and places for the reader to get lost in. The book does make considerable demands on the reader, though, because of its literacy. But this is the mark of the great fantasies - works that embody the best in written English, and there are so very few of these. This is definitely a book that the reader will turn to reread over and over and marvel at each rereading at the power and craft of the work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely amazing! Dec 2 1999
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I almost forgot I'd read this book, but reading these reviews brings it all back. This was such an amazing novel that I still can't quite believe how good it was. I've rarely come across such complex and realistic worldbuilding, or character definition, or plot complexity and reality. Sario and Saavedra, as well as certain of the others, will always be etched in my consciousness, but I think even more deeply I will carry the conjured memories of Grijalva art. I think these three brilliant women touched on something very true in this book when they limited their magic theme to the magic of art. I don't really believe in spells and magicians etc but I definately believe that the creative font of humanity if magical, and the more people that realise that the better.
For those who found the alternate European world entrancing, I recommend Guy Gavriel Kay's books. While best known for his Fionavar Tapestry, his stand alone novels are his best work. These are set largely in alternate Europes - Spain at the end of the Moorish tenure, France on the eve of the Albigensian crusade, Italy at the close of the Renaissance, and Byzantium in its heyday are some of the realities he takes and creates something new and amazing from. Additionally, those fascinated by the artistic focus in Golden Key may be fascinated by the role that music and poetry play in Kay's novels. The religion query of another reviewer bought to mind Tad William's Memory Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, but the religion in that series was never so emphatic as in Golden Key. Any responses to this review are welcome!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average fantasy story
Acquiring The Golden Key was almost accidental -- I picked it up one day on a buying spree, having no idea what it was about and not being familiar with any of the authors. Read more
Published on March 7 2003 by eeepy
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the same old story
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a nice switch from the standard 'magic and dragons and spells, oh my!' that so many other sci-fi/fantasy stories employ. Read more
Published on June 5 2002 by Janelle
1.0 out of 5 stars Ok Book
This book was ok, very slow to start with. I actually stopped reading it for a long time as I got bored with it and got back to it when I was desperate for a read. Read more
Published on March 22 2002 by Melissaox
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, but I couldn't find anything to like.
I had high hopes for this book but I just found it rather boring and predictable. The style of writing didn't appeal to me and the plot was less than interesting. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2002 by HunterSeeker
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but too long
I will have to say I agree with the review by nicciech, w...a...y too long. A really good job was done in creating a society, and creating a different concept of magic. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2001 by Clifford Nelson
2.0 out of 5 stars Waaaaay too long!
I love the way this book starts. The plot was well thought-out, the magic was of a totally different sort than I've read before, and the whole idea fascinated me. Read more
Published on April 30 2001 by Niccie
3.0 out of 5 stars i didn't like it
I read this book because is was highly recommended and Kate Elliott was one of its co authors. I REALLY didn't like it. Read more
Published on March 30 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars Suprisingly annoying
I don't usually find myself at odds with my fellow reviewers, but this time we couldn't be further apart. Surely, I did not read the same book as those who gave this book 5 stars. Read more
Published on March 12 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing
I loved the idea of using magic in paintings, and the characters were interesting. But quite frankly the story bored me. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2000 by Wind Dancing
5.0 out of 5 stars Melanie Rawn's most envolving book
I'm quite a big fan of Melanie Rawn, and after reading the first two Exiles books, I picked this one up. Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2000 by nabnut@eircom.net
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