In the Forests of Serre Paperback – Jun 1 2004
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Like Ursula K. Le Guin and Jane Yolen, World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip (author of Riddle-Master, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and Ombria in Shadow) is one of the great fantasy authors working at the turn of the millennium. In her beautifully written novel In the Forests of Serre, McKillip again demonstrates her intimate understanding of the mysteries of magic and the human heart.
Everyone in the kingdom of Serre avoids the Mother of All Witches, an ugly, powerful, and dangerous woman who lives in the Forest of Serre. But then the grief-blinded Prince of Serre rides down the witch's white hen and earns her curse. Prince Ronan believes nothing can be worse than what he has already experienced: the death of his wife and their newborn. But soon the curse destroys what little the prince has left, and he wanders lost and half-mad through the Forest of Serre, pursuing a beautiful, elusive firebird that may be an illusion, or his doom. His only hope may be the young Princess Sidonie of Dacia, to whom his brutal father betrothed him against his will... and hers. But Princess Sidonie may have no interest in helping a man she's never met. And her powerful, mysterious magician-guardian, Gyre, has secret intentions and desires of his own. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In a twist on the Biblical adage "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," McKillip (Ombria in Shadow) presents a mystical, eerie fantasy about the flight from love-and the haphazard progress toward love. The efforts of a kingdom to prevent war by sacrificing its princess, Sidonie, to a loveless marriage are complicated by the refusal of the intended bridegroom, Prince Ronan of Serre, to cooperate. Sidonie obeys to save her country from sure destruction. Ronan flees from his fate with the magical interference of the Forests of Serre, the mysterious witch Brume and a firebird whose song becomes a pied piper-like enchantment. Meetings with Brume exact a dear price, and nearly every character encounters her at some point. To some, Brume can be death itself; others merely have to give her something of great value. Ronan offers "what of all such things he valued least, and would not miss if he did not return for it. `Take my heart.'" And indeed, Brume does take his heart. Ronan doesn't seem to miss what he felt he lacked to begin with, but Sidonie does, and so do his parents. This novel is similar in style and content to McKillip's World Fantasy Award-winning story, "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld," which is not to say it's a rehash. A skillfully told adult fairy tale, it stands perfectly well on its own.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
When Ronan reaches his home, the king wastes no time telling him that he will marry Princess Sidonie in four days. Although Ronan tries to demur from this wedding, saying that he is still grieving his lost wife and child, the king refuses to delay the wedding and, when Ronan continues to deny his command, the king puts Ronan under guard prior to the ceremony. Ronan's mother is sympathetic but is powerless to change the king's plans.
While Ronan is in his guarded room, he sees the Firebird in the forest and hears her singing. Ronan leaves his room, walks down the staircase and, while the guards are following him at a slower pace, slips out of the castle gates and down the cliff to the forest. There he follows the Firebird, running and running, then standing still to watch and listen, and then running again. He is soon lost in the woods, enthralled by the beauty and song of the Firebird.Read more ›
The prince and princess both have some growing up to do through the labyrinthine course of the book. I picked the wrong villain, someone very like the villain in McKillip's "Song for a Basilisk" but who is redeemed in this book by his love for the kingdom of Serre.
Speaking of villains, see if you can guess whose heart was enclosed in a casket inside the ribcage of a dragon---you also need guess where it went after the wizards Gyre and Unciel opened the casket. Many hearts go missing throughout the story and not all of them are returned to their true owners.
The Baba Yaga-like witch, Brume and her walking hovel, and her chickens, and her stewpot full of human bones form a striking counterpoint to the beautiful firebird-woman who flies through the Forest of Serre and steals men's hearts with her song. Are either or both of them evil? Are they two faces of the same wild magic? McKillip doesn't give a direct answer to these questions (at least none that I could discern) so you'll have to decide for yourself as you read her story. Both Prince Ronan and Princess Sidonie have to face their own worst fears in Brume's hut, and they are different people when they finally emerge.
The firebird seems to enter and escape the Crone's hut at will--another of McKillip's symbols for death and rebirth, or change?Read more ›
Prince Ronan of Serre lost his wife and child, and now he tries to die by going off to fight in wars for his tyrant father. When returning from a battle, he accidently kills a chicken belonging to the witch Brume; the old woman curses him, but Ronan doesn't take it seriously. Yet when he returns home, his father reveals that he's betrothed Ronan (the only heir) to Princess Sidonie of Dacia, a small but magical kingdom. While Ronan broods about this, he sees a beautiful firebird pass by the castle, and is enspelled by it.
Princess Sidonie is no happier about being married off in a barbaric land, but she has to marry Ronan to keep Dacia from being invaded. She travels to Serre with a wizard, and encounters Ronan wandering in the forest without knowing who he is. When she comes to Serre, she finds that her future husband has vanished -- Ronan is searching for the firebird, because he can't find his way home until he gives it to Brume. But things have become more complicated -- because a wizard has taken Ronan's identity...
Like all McKillip's books, this novel is deceptively simple and intriguingly written. She uses simple concepts (witch, wizards, scribe, prince, princess, firebird, a country's magic, and talking animals) and spins her unique prose around them. This is not a book for people who like all the usual elements used in the same old way.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Never exactly borrowing her plot elements and characters from Russian and Slavic myth and legend (but oh! so closely sometimes! Read morePublished on Feb. 8 2004 by Stephen Richmond
This is one of a handful of books I've felt compelled to re-read. As with everything by McKillip, the language is pure bliss -luxurious and finely woven, seducing the mind like... Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2004 by DL
I had high hopes for this book after thoroughly enjoying the Riddlemaster books. Those combined McKillip's wonderful prose with fully developed characters with whom the reader... Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2004 by Mark A. Hammond
In The Forests of Serre, McKillip has released yet another beautifully crafted story. I love her work so well, that I simply buy whatever she puts out immediately. Read morePublished on July 9 2003
Each novel is more incredible than the last; this one shimmers with stories--with the tales, the need to tell them, and the unexpected ways they come true.Published on June 17 2003 by Bookwyrme
Although the Forests of Serre is not my favorite McKillip book, her stories are always a pleasure to read, and this is no exception. Read morePublished on June 17 2003
This book was worth reading. It was extremely creative. The problem with it was that the story seemed to drag on and contridict itself. Read morePublished on June 15 2003