5.0 out of 5 stars elegant, subtle and complex
This is my first book by Patricia McKillip, and I was very pleased. I read some reviewer who called this book "luxurious", and I would definitely agree. Like all luxuries, it isn't essential, but my what a nice read it is nonetheless. If you have exhausted all the essential fantasy reading, like Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, and others, this is a good place...
Published on Dec 4 2003 by Clinton D. Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing with a weak plot
At her best, Patricia McKillip writes prose which is just sparse enough in its descriptions to give the reader's imagination room to flower. And this book has some of the best prose she's written. Unfortunately the story line is tremendously confusing. It is told from five perspectives, three of which have love interests of some sort. Keeping track of who is who...
Published on June 9 2000
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5.0 out of 5 stars elegant, subtle and complex,
This is my first book by Patricia McKillip, and I was very pleased. I read some reviewer who called this book "luxurious", and I would definitely agree. Like all luxuries, it isn't essential, but my what a nice read it is nonetheless. If you have exhausted all the essential fantasy reading, like Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, and others, this is a good place to take a breather. If you haven't read anything else by the author, the first thing you need to do is have a look at the cover. Now, be informed that the book reads in a similar manner. Lots of details, lots of color. Somewhere in there is the story, and you have to just let the story emerge, because it will. No, you don't know all the answers, you don't have an omnipotent point of view, but be comforted that the elegant twists of plot near the end will resolve whatever it is that confused you in an earlier chapter. And details are important here.
Speaking of the story, its chock full of knights and damsels, of magical creatures and enchanted realms. Not a lot of romance here, nor a great deal of swashbuckling action, just good nebulous, lush reading. Very post-modern, very well done. I'll read more of her stuff, and I would suggest that any lover of good fantasy should do the same.
If Tolkien is an epic Beethoven sonata, then this is a sumptuous Rachmaninov prelude. As in piano music, enjoy them both for what they are.
2.0 out of 5 stars confusion at mckillip's worst,
By A Customer
I love McKillip's writing. But this story was a disappointment. I'm happy to see that others enjoyed it (it's always good to see that what you don't like makes someone else happy), but I wouldn't recommend Tower at Stony Wood. It's an extremely poor representation of McKillip's storytelling talent.
The premise of the story is somewhat intriguing and holds a bit of the spiritual depth McKillip usually brings out in a story. But not only are the 'twists' exceedingly confusing-- they're weak and hardly convincing. McKillip's usual strength at writing strong and beuatiful sentences is not to be found here-- many weak and confusing sentences instead. The three interweaving stories and protagonists were never developed enough for me to actually 'care' for them or believe in them. Many scenes are hard to visualize and are, yes, weak and unconvincing.
I hate to sound so negative, but McKillip has set her own standards high, so this is to her credit. Do try her first trilogy, the Riddle Master, for a fantasy classic-- exquisite storytelling AND writing that deserves more credit from the literary world outside of this genre.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing read, fun for Loreena McKennitt fans,
By A Customer
I've read everything written by Patricia McKillip that I could get my hands on since finding "Forgotten Beasts of Eld" many years ago. A fun fact about this particular book is that it appears to be inspired by Loreena McKennitt's version of "Lady of Shalott". (She set the poem, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, to her own music. It is a haunting piece.) If you love L. McKennitt, you may really enjoy this book.(Read the dedication for the McKennitt reference)
5.0 out of 5 stars A bardic adventure,
The Tower at Stony Wood is more adventure-ish than most of McKillip's work. Two heroes at cross purposes travel through a land based loosely on Celtic Myth and Tennyson's wonderful poem, "The Lady of Shallot". A fisherman's widow lives in the land one of the heroes is being driven to; her importance is slowly revealed to herself and the others. The land they inhabit is absolutely real, and a sense of myth and destiny pervades their journeys. Like all of McKillip's work, this book is mysterious; but it feels more open and light than most of her other books. Perfect, as usual.
2.0 out of 5 stars Average Fantasy...,
A short little piece that embodies whats wrong with most fantasy writers today...Preachy and simple having the reader knowing that the hero cannot die....Thankfully this is a short book so we dont have to endure a great deal of the hero running around practically invincible... It would be so refreshing if someone wrote fantasy where people died...Oh wait George R.R. Martin does...The book was ok at best (the dragon on the cover plays a very small roll unfortunaty) and is hardly representative of the quality we should expect from Patricia A. McKillip. I mean if a book has a dragon on the cover there should be one in the book! Its only common sense
Skip this one, Go read The Princess Bride again to enjoy some real fantasy...
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but cloudy....,
I loved "The Riddle-Master of Hed" series when it first came out. I must've re-read it at least 6 times. But after reading "The Tower at Stony Wood" I remembered that part of the reason I had to keep re-reading it is because McKillip's writing can be pretty obscure. In fact, when she gets to an action scene it gets even more obscure and confusing. At the end of her books I'm left with the feeling that I'm not quite sure exactly what went on. This isn't all bad. It IS part of the charm of her writing but it just doesn't work all of the time. But perhaps I shouldn't start with a criticism of this book. I truly liked it but just found that I spent so much time confused that it distracted me from really losing my self in the experience.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy writing at its best!,
I've only recently discovered Patricia McKillip and I can't believe I've gone all of this time not knowing such an incredible writer was out there.
Cyan Dag, the King's most renowned Knight discovers that the new queen is not what she appears to be. Instead of the charming beauty everyone else sees, he is able to see the whisper of her 6th finger, her scales and reptilian eyes. Cyan is then off on a reluctant but earnest quest to free the real Lady of Skye who is trapped in a far off tower.
The quest is both literal and metaphorical and Cyan has the true sight that all real heroes should have. Along the way he comes to understand that things aren't always what they appear to be and the quest is finished but not in the way he sets out to do.
Blessedly free of the kind of sappy romance that often wrecks a good fantasy novel of this genre, this book is crafted from beautiful language and imagery and McKillip is now a new favorite of mine.
4.0 out of 5 stars Intricate,
The reader below gave up on _The Tower at Stony Wood_ after the fight with the "monster" in the woods, which is too bad, since it doesn't really get good until that point. It took me a couple of weeks of sporadic reading to get to that point (maybe 1/3 of the way in), and an day of fanatical reading to finish the rest.
I started the book because I wanted to see what McKillip, with her talent for wordplay and complicated magic, would do to get the "Lady of Shalott" out of her predicament. How do you save a woman who will die if she leaves her prison? But _Tower_ goes far beyond that seed of a story, meandering through subplots that don't seem relevant until the end, weaving a complex tapestry of old grudges, old debts, love, and magic. For along the way to save the Lady, the knight Cyan Dag must sort out several other problems. (See the editorial review for a darn good plot summary.) In the end, _Tower_ is a deeper and more complicated story than it seemed on the surface, and richer than _Ombria in Shadow_ , which is prettily written but relies on cardboard Good and cardboard Evil to carry the plot.
Not quite as enchanting as _Winter Rose_, IMHO, but in the same league as _The Sorceress and the Cygnet_. Fairly standard McKillip, and "standard" for her means "very good".
1.0 out of 5 stars Weak Characterization,
I'm sorry to say (really, I am) that I found this book to be a disappoinment, not to mention way overpriced. It started off promising--the romance between Cyan and Cria, for example, was intriguing, and I immediately liked Cyan. I was also intrigued by the imagery the author presented in the dragon, and the woman embroidering in the tower. However, by page one hundred, I was asking myself why I cared about any of this.
McKillip's writing style is highly poetic and doesn't really focus on emotions--it's all basically imagery, imagery, imagery. Do these characters even have emotions? It was impossible to get to know them when the only clues to their behavoir are their actions. Also, I personally think there were too many characters in this book, with not enough focus on them. If you're only going to have a character appear for five pages of the book, then forget about him/her, what's the point of even putting them in?
As I said, McKillip has great imagery style, but her action scenes are simply confusing--it's hard to tell who is doing what. The first action scene, where Cyan is attacked in the forest by a "monster" is what truly lost me on the story.
THE TOWER AT STONY WOOD is an okay fantasy, but I don't think it deserves the kind of praise it is getting; it's certainly not the best fairy tale-like fantasy published recently, and I wouldn't pay full price for it even in the paperback version. Get it from the library.
4.0 out of 5 stars This writer has my attention.,
This review is from: Tower At Stony Wood A Novel (Hardcover)
Fun and serious. P. Mckillip has shown considerable and surprising turns to her thinking and language usage. Some of her other books are more colorful in this regard, but there is no mistake; she has taken Rapunzel and added marvelously to it. This is a fine story, well written, and kept me wondering where she was going. I had to continue, if only to discover if Cyan finds his love still waiting for him.
(P.S. To gain a five star from me, it would have to be laugh out loud funny too.)
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Tower at Stoney Wood by Patricia A. McKillip (School & Library Binding - Dec 2003)
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