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Riddle-Master [Paperback]

Patricia A. McKillip
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 11 2002
For over twenty years, Patricia A. McKillip has captured the hearts and imaginations of thousands of readers. And although her renowned Riddle-Master trilogy--The Riddle-Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, and Harpist in the Wind--has been long out of print, it is considered her most enduring and beloved work. Now it is collected in one volume for the first time--the epic journeys of a young prince in a strange land, where wizards have long since vanished...but where magic is waiting to be reborn.

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About the Author

Patricia A. McKillip is a winner of the World Fantasy Award, and the author of many fantasy novels, including The Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy, Stepping from the Shadows, and The Cygnet and the Firebird. She lives in Oregon.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
MORGON OF HED met the High One's harpist one autumn day when the trade-ships docked at Tol for the season's exchange of goods. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reissue of a Classic Oct. 26 2000
By Elyon
It had been years--or should I say decades--since I read this trilogy, so when I found it reissued in a single volume, I had to buy up. My fond memories of the book were not disappointed, and it still reads as freshly now as it did during the late seventies. Then, when fantasy still remained dominated by Tolkien, or in the hands of overly prolific imitators, two authors stood out, both for the freshness of their approach and their skill of writing: Stephen Donaldson and Patricia McKillip. It's fitting, in the author's acknowledgements, to see their names still linked.
As the author hints in her introduction, this trilogy lacks the maturity of her later works, such as "The Book of Atrix Wolfe," "Winter Rose," or the recent "Song for the Basilisk." Yet all the elements are evident that have contributed to making Patricia McKillip one of the finest authors writing fantasy fiction today: beautiful, at times lyrical, prose, imaginative and original themes and characters, and a wondrous sense of the magical that infuses both her world and story throughout. Each world she creates is unique and thoughtfully rendered, with elements designed to provoke both thought and wonder, and her characters are some of the most striking found in fantasy fiction--no small accomplishment indeed!
While I understand the exuberance behind some earlier reviewers' comments--this work is special and deserving of wide readership--some of the praise here goes overboard. Compared to the second two books, "The Riddle-Master of Hed" is a rough cut, both in conception and in terms of its writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The riddles and the stars Oct. 9 2008
Format:Library Binding
Usually when an author is compared to Tolkien, it means that there are lots of swords, sorcery, countries clashing and a dark lord, but that the spirit of the master of fantasy is missing. But the "Riddle-Master" trilogy is one trilogy that almost lives up to the words -- a majestic, magical adventure that spans all of McKillip's richly invented world.

"Riddle-Master of Hed" opens with the discovery of a jeweled crown under Prince Morgan's bed -- a sign that he outriddled a king who had never been defeated before. Along with the crown, he wins the right to marry his pal's sister, Raederle, the second-most beautiful woman in the continent of An.

But Morgan is stopped on his way by a shipwreck and news of something dark and sinister creeping into the lands. Strange shapeshifting creatures are entering the lands, the wizards have vanished from the land, and somehow the three stars on Morgan's brow are connected to their presence and how to stop them. He heads off to Erlenstar Mountain, to find the High One -- and finds more than he bargained for...

"Heir of Sea And Fire" very slowly resolves the cliffhanger ending of "Riddle-Master," focusing instead on Princess Raederle. The land-rule -- a sort of sixth sense given to kings -- of Hed has passed to Morgan's brother, meaning that apparently Morgan is dead -- but Raederle and her father don't believe it's true. She sets off with a few faithful friends, and encounters the semi-sinister harpist Deth, the shapechangers, armies of the dead rampaging through her father's lands -- and disturbing news about her and her heritage.

"Harpist in the Wind" continues from the end of "Heir," with Morgan and Raederle planning what to do next.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unequaled June 14 2004
By Jenni
The Riddle-Master Trilogy was my first experience with McKillip and I must say she has now joined the uppermost ranks of my favorite authors. This series was just incredible. Not only is McKillip a true master of the English language-her phrasings are vocabulary are anything but cliché-and her creativity clearly outside of the box, but the way she so carefully and expertly opens the story to the reader places her head and shoulders above her contemporaries. She leads the reader on a glorious, soul-searching escapade where certain plot elements are introduced early enough that the identities and eventual destinies of several main characters are quickly ascertained but then she presents incongruous difficulty after difficulty that leave you thinking: well, maybe...no, that can't be it...but yes, it must be...how will she resolve this?... and so on.
She carries the reader only so far into the mystery and then deftly skips from A, B, C to E, leaving D undefined and implied. But she never pushes it too far into the esoteric and eternally unreachable. The act of filling in the blanks gives the reader a sense of discovery that makes the story appear just that much more realistic and enjoyable. You are driven, as a riddler yourself, until the very end when it climaxes the way you predicted and yet you are so startled and overjoyed at the discovery in which you've been granted participation, that you aren't disappointed with predictability. Instead, you can't help but feel a terrible sense of loss at having come to the conclusion of such a beautiful thing. While the ending is left wide open, she resolves the plot difficulties she set out to resolve and doesn't waste time or energy on superfluous baggage.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Purchased as a gift
Published 26 days ago by Janet M. Atkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book. I cold recommend it
Good book . I cold recommend it.
Published 3 months ago by Amy
5.0 out of 5 stars Riddle Master trilogy
This trilogy is my favourite of all her works. I re-read it often and enjoy it more each time. A truly wonderful, complex, emotional, heart-rending tale and so beautifully written,... Read more
Published on July 8 2012 by Angelfire
5.0 out of 5 stars The pleasure of rereading
This trilogy is closest to my heart, even after forty-five years of reading fairy tales, mythology, fantasy, and science fiction. Read more
Published on June 3 2006 by Grand Sophy
2.0 out of 5 stars approach with caution
The hero whines a lot, suffers inexplicably over things that don't seem too troublesome, and is loved unreservedly by every good guy in the book. Read more
Published on June 25 2004 by lady_of_mercia
5.0 out of 5 stars Pride of Place on My Bookshelf
The Riddlemaster of Hed was the first of Patricia McKillip's books that I read. I was drawn in by the disarming simplicity of words combined with such lyricism, such beauty, such... Read more
Published on June 13 2004 by "nyliramedur"
5.0 out of 5 stars my childhood innocence
I just wanted to give it 5 stars to support its rating and offset some of the bad reviews (hee hee). Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by Lori
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing writing, but not for everyone
I grabbed a copy of this book to read on a plane to Ireland. The plane landed when I had finished all but one chapter, and I ran to the baggage claim to sit down and finish... Read more
Published on April 14 2004 by Jessica Price
5.0 out of 5 stars Riddle Master
I fell so lucky to have the priviledge to read this beautiful story. I have read other McKillip's books and so far, this is the BEST!! Read more
Published on March 24 2004 by Spy Groove
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Fantasy Trilogies Ever
The Riddle-master trilogy is amazing. What one immediately notices is McKillip's masterful use of language. Read more
Published on March 24 2004 by "mr_corvo"
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