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Riddle-Master Paperback – Mar 1 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; Ace One-vol ed edition (March 1 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441005969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441005963
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #116,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 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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Format: Paperback
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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