Searching for his lover in a shadowy, magic world, young Tikat meets three mysterious cloaked women, whose quest involves saving their mentor, a once-powerful wizard, from losing his magic to a treacherous enemy. Reprint.
"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
And then I read "The Inkeeper's Song" and I fell hopelessly, shamelessly in love with it. Never mind the obligatory supernatural climax, which thankfully does not end the book. Never mind some quibbles about plot mechanics. The book is populated by compellingly vivid characters, who by the end become utterly real people, living in a real world. This is writing of a quality verging on magical, which leaves one with the lasting impression of knowing the book's characters in all their quirky, individual humanity - and caring for them!
So, ignore those who say that "The Inkeeper's Song" is not up to Beagle's best standard. It IS Beagle's best standard! Just don't read it in the "quick - what happens next?" frame of mind. Read it, and get to know Rosseth, Neyteneri, Lal (Swordcane Lal, Saylor Lal, Lal Alone, Lal After Dark) and all the others. It is worth it. Believe me it is worth it! And I don't rave easily.
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.Read more ›
"...A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!"
The "Innkeeper's" world is also savage and enchanted, and haunted by a weaver wailing for his drowned lover. Not only does he wail; Tikat, the weaver's apprentice seeks after his lover when a wizard raises her from the bottom of the river and steals her away.
Although many readers may know and love Beagle's fantasy "The Last Unicorn," few of them probably know that he also writes songs. To the inn,
"There came three ladies at sundown: /one was as brown as bread is brown, /one was black, with a sailor's sway, /and one was pale as the moon by day."
I wish I could hum the tune for you.
This book reminds me of the author's "A Fine and Private Place," as both are about the dead who refuse to die, or are not allowed to stay dead because of love or other unfinished business.
"Innkeeper" is told from numerous points of view---something I don't normally like--- but Beagle consummately weaves his characters' stories together into a single time and place. His tapestry is almost complete by the time three women come to stay at an inn called 'The Gaff and Slasher.' We learn of the already-woven pattern through flashbacks and dialogue.
The innkeeper, Karsh knows that the three women are going to cause trouble:
"The white one wore an emerald ring, /the brown led a fox on a silver string, /and the black one carried a rosewood cane /with a sword inside, for I saw it plain.Read more ›