12 Following

By Singing Light

Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.

Currently reading

The Lost Tools of Learning and the Mind of the Maker
Dorothy L. Sayers
The Seventh Bride
T. Kingfisher
Hope in the Dark
Rebecca Solnit
Outrun the Moon
Stacey Lee
Midnight Thief
Livia Blackburne
The White Hart
Nancy Springer
The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu
Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Jim C. Hines
Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
Sarah Gristwood
Song for the Basilisk - Patricia A. McKillip by Patricia McKillip

Rook, a bard of Luly, does not know his true identity. All he really knows is that he cannot ever remember what he is, or he will bring destruction. And yet, he cannot deny his memories forever.

Okay, that was a really bad summary of the plot of a lovely book. This definitely falls into my favorite McKillip category: the strange world, the not-quite-a-dream. I’ve noticed that throughout her books, McKillip has a very strong sense of place. She manages to capture the flavor of a particular city in vivid, swift strokes.

Here there was also a great sense of music. Most of the main characters are musicians, or are interested in music, or pretend to be interested in music. McKillip drew a strong contrast between the music of the north, which is wild, unpredictable, and sounds awful to southerners, and the music of Berylon, the city whose defines the rest of the country. The two characters who I really saw as the main characters (Rook and Giulia) are able to move between the different types of music.

Luna Pellior, daughter of the dictator who seized the rule of Berylon, was a fascinating character as well. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of her, although I suppose that too much more would have spoiled the mystery of her motivations. She and Hollis (Rook’s son) brought up some teasing thoughts about children and fathers and how the two interact.

While I think my favorite McKillips are still the Riddle-master trilogy and Ombria in Shadow, I did enjoy this one very much. I felt like it has a great deal of richness which I haven’t entirely mined yet.

Book source: public library
Other links: the cover
Book information: Ace, 1998

My Patricia McKillip reviews:
Something Rich and Strange and Ombria in Shadow
Riddle of Stars (Riddle-master trilogy)
Harrowing the Dragon
Official read-through index


A book which certainly falls into my favorite category of McKillip’s writing, I wasn’t immediately impressed by it. But after I finished it, I found bits and pieces tucked into the back of my mind, waiting until I remembered them and went “OH.” And surely that’s one of the markers of an excellent book? [2010 in books]


Most of McKillip’s books improve with re-reading. This is no exception. I still find Luna Pellinore a fascinating and tantalizing character. I want more of her story! [Aug. 2011]