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Monday, November 28, 2005

In the Forests of Serre by Patricia McKillip

Patricia A. McKillip is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I have written elsewhere about one reason that I like her work, namely that much of it involves a main character deciding not to seek revenge. (I suppose that makes her novels, with this aspect important, Christian, in a sense.)

Here's what another blogger wrote about her use of words:

Words seem ironically inadequate to describe the skill with which McKillip spins the English language into magic. Lyrical is one word that is often used in reviews, but it's so much more. Most of McKillip's work deals with magic, and if there is any true magic in the world, I would suspect it would be found in her use of language. I could luxuriate in work written by McKillip regardless of the story, simply to enjoyher use of words.

I agree. It is also true that McKillip can be obscure, and leave quite a bit unexplained. Nonetheless, she has won more Mythopoeic Awards than any other author.

In the Forests of Serre (New York: Ace, 2003) is a book that I have read three times since I got it from one of our daughters for Christmas. I was trying to get a handle on the book. I believe that I finally did, and it's not McKillip's fault that it took me so long. It's about the heart. The word, referring to the seat of the emotions, is used over and over again, and two of the main characters give up their hearts for something else, and regret this.

I don't see how I can summarize the plot, or even describe the characters (there are nine that I would consider main characters) in anything like a post length that's reasonable, even for me. So I'll just summarize the book this way:

McKillip has again written a book with excellent use of language, describing a marvelous forest, wizardry, and a cold castle. The Princess Sidonie decides that she doesn't want to marry Prince Ronan unless he re-claims his heart. He gave it away because his first wife and child died. After numerous trips, by several characters, into and through the forest, all is well. Everyone who should have a heart does, and the two really can fall in love and be married.

* * * * *

This post has been somewhat re-done, here.

Thanks for reading!


Mufana said...

Dr. LaBar, I haven't read the book that you are refering to, but I have read a fantasy series that I got from you at SWU. The series is The Pendragon Cycle by Stephen R. Lawhead. I was interested in your opinion of the series and the author.

Martin LaBar said...

I responded to the commenter, and I appreciate the comment. Part of what I said (some was personal--I know him) was approximately this:
The books by Lawhead are pretty good reads, and Christian without being preachy. Somehow they never appealed to me as much as some other works of fantastic literature, and I haven't taken the time to figure out why.