At many times I felt as lost as the characters were within the story. Having now read the sequel, this book almost feels like an introduction to the characters more than its own standalone story — I loved the sequel and devoured it quickly like I do with most of her other work. It is as clear, as beautiful, and as moving as I have come to expect from her. This book is worth reading just to get to the sequel. Apr 13, Adobe rated it it was amazing. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I remember really liking The Sorceress and the Cygnet the first time I read it, but as I began re-reading the novel, I was hard-pressed to remember why. The book starts slow as it meanders through the unexceptional boyhood and adolescence of the nominal hero, Corleu. Corleu has unusual hair and unusual ancestors; he grows up immersed in folk tales based on constellations; his gypsy-like people become stuck in a never-ending loop of time. Given the latter plot point, you could argue that the book I remember really liking The Sorceress and the Cygnet the first time I read it, but as I began re-reading the novel, I was hard-pressed to remember why.
Given the latter plot point, you could argue that the book is attempting to recreate the weary tedium that drowns Corleu, but It's a lousy beginning, full of unimportant details that could easily be summarized elsewhere. But then Corleu stumbles across a bleak swamp, an unreliable house, and an amoral sorceress, and I remembered why I liked The Sorceress and the Cygnet. Nyx Ro has discarded her morality and humanity in exchange for knowledge, and she never regrets the bargain. She is neither evil nor malicious; she is simply indifferent.
She is the novel's secret protagonist. More than that, her terrifying dispassion refines the principles of the other characters. Corleu begins the novel with a single, desperate aim. After he spends a winter watching Nyx kill small birds for her spells, that desperation is tempered with compassion and patience.
Meguet's purpose in the book only becomes clear at the very end, when she and Corleu become the unexpected engineers of Nyx's salvation. In the novel's climax, Corleu attempts to prevent supernatural creatures from killing Nyx while, simultaneously, Nyx -- who has finally left her swampy den and returned to her estranged family in search of Corleu -- is trying to convince Meguet not to kill him.
Corleu's defense of Nyx is ironic, given his earlier disgust, but Nyx's defense of Corleu is nothing short of miraculous. A season of being watched by the repulsed Corleu has changed her in small but important ways. Which is not to say that Nyx dissolves into wholesome dreariness. Nyx never becomes sweet or affectionate.
She never falls in love with Corleu.
She's still severe and knowledge-hungry; she just carries a regained sense of perspective. She remains a great character. She's better, in fact, than her novel. There's plenty of other good stuff in The Sorceress and the Cygnet, including Nyx's tight-knit family. But there's also lots of junky stuff, including the main plot and its eye-rollingly pat resolution. Not to mention the free-wheeling approach taken toward commas and adjectives.
I like the novel for its grace notes, not its main body. And for Nyx Ro, an anti-heroine of the finest caliber.
The Sorceress Summary & Study Guide Description
Jun 16, Valerie added it. McKillip is an author to be read in quiet places where you won't be disturbed--otherwise you're likely to find yourself leafing back to find out when a character turned into a tree. The language, as in all her books, is very poetic. It often helps with McKillip's books that her sister would draw maps of the locations--I don't think there was one in this edition. No, I'm pretty sure there isn't. You'd think that with a title like The Sorceress And The Cygnet, either the sorceress or the cygnet wou McKillip is an author to be read in quiet places where you won't be disturbed--otherwise you're likely to find yourself leafing back to find out when a character turned into a tree.
You'd think that with a title like The Sorceress And The Cygnet, either the sorceress or the cygnet would be the hero. But the sorceress doesn't appear until late in the fourth chapter, and deliberately stays hands-off. She acts as more or less a reference librarian for means and methods of spells, as does at least one of her sisters. And the Cygnet appears only in silhouette, though if I recall correctly it appears onstage for a cameo at the end.
Before that there's not even much in the way of foreshadowing. It's a bit worrisome that people keep joggling the bottled spells on the mantle. Since they don't know what's in them, there's no telling when one would turn deadly. The characters in this book are strong and individual, and it doesn't really matter whether they're male or female. They pick their careers more on the basis of personality than on gender. If you're tempted to skip through the story about the Rider in The Corn at the beginning, don't.
It's critical later on. It's not clear what world this is. There's earthlike life, and then there's other, less familiar life. A bestiary would be useful, or at least illustrations.
The Sorceress and the Cygnet
How is a blood fox different from an ordinary fox, for example? There aren't many loose threads that you can't gather up along the way. I don't think I did read them in order the first time. But it doesn't hurt to read them in order, and I will this time. Dec 28, Shilo Quetchenbach rated it it was amazing. This is one of McKillip's earlier novels, and one of her consistently darker ones - I especially love the swirling plot twists in the final few pages that are all McKillip. The characters are passionate and driven, and the motives that drive them and hidden sources of their power are revealed slowly throughout the book, layers peeling back revealing deeper layers.
Even as you read the same story from the perspectives of several characters, there are others whose thoughts and motives are not reve This is one of McKillip's earlier novels, and one of her consistently darker ones - I especially love the swirling plot twists in the final few pages that are all McKillip. Even as you read the same story from the perspectives of several characters, there are others whose thoughts and motives are not revealed at all - only glimpses caught here and there, suspicions and glimmers, and in the end the characters whose eyes the reader sees - who the reader must trust - are left blinking and wondering.
McKillip is the only author I have found to do this consistently well; and the beauty and sheer breathtaking swirl of building tension and anxiety and fear that drag you relentlessly through her novels throw you suddenly into a swirling maelstrom in the final pages, where realities shift and nothing is as it seemed. The best thing about her novels is that, no matter how many times I read them, they are new every time. The details, and passions, and tensions, and finely spun net of story grab you while you read, and then leave you at the end wondering what happened - and feeling the details slipping away.
Fantasy, and magic, at its finest. Apr 12, P. Lindsay rated it it was amazing Shelves: My version has a much better cover than the one shown. That fantastic imagination combined with her writing skill and her History degree have produced some wonderful books. Some are almost in the classic fairy tale vein, books which need reading aloud to a group of eager listeners who need to know their folk tales. Corleu has to find the heart of the cygnet or he will never see his love again. But what is the heart of the cygnet and where is it?
Nix just wants power, from anything, learnt in any old way, kind or cruel, power to use. In the end Corleu and she reach for the same thing, with surprising results. The novel is a grand tale, about love and power, something which only a fantasy writer of McKillip's ability can produce, food for thought for readers as well as a wonderful story. Jan 30, Israel Bentley rated it liked it. Corleu and his quest to save his love interest was not too appealing to me. He knowingly plays the part of a pawn, endangering his nation and unleashing ancient dangers one by one. He is selfish in the name of love.
Where this book shines however is in the heroines. Meguet is characterized well and her romance is both sweet and realistic. As Guardian of the Cygnet, Meguet has extensive powers, but she is not in control. They rise only in the service and protection of the Cygnet, which I thought was a nice touch. Nyx is a fascinating character and plays an anti-hero in this book. Her thirst for knowledge and power drive her too far at times, but she is still sympathetic, and she gets character development towards the end.
The beginning, the ending. Jul 10, Sophia rated it really liked it Shelves: People for whom this is their first McKillip may be surprised to hear that it's actually one of the clearest and most-readable of her books -- I had a much better sense of place, time, and character than I often do despite the POV changes and jumps through time and space, haha.
I also really liked most of the characters more than usual, and felt that they had more purpose and growth than opaque fantasy archetypes. Conclusion doesn't make much sense, of course, since it's McKillip and she loves People for whom this is their first McKillip may be surprised to hear that it's actually one of the clearest and most-readable of her books -- I had a much better sense of place, time, and character than I often do despite the POV changes and jumps through time and space, haha.
Conclusion doesn't make much sense, of course, since it's McKillip and she loves her abstract prettiness, but it's in smaller proportion here. This may sound like I'm damning the book with faint praise, but since I always want to love McKillip's books more than I end up doing, and this is the first one of hers I didn't have to reread the first five pages over again once I understood what the heck was happening, I really feel like she balanced the elements very well in this book. Oct 13, Danielle Darrington rated it it was amazing. This is my favorite Patricia A.
Patricia's books are for me like walking into a dream that you sort of float through and you see lots of cool things but you don't really remember anything about them once they are gone. This book has some of that but there are also plenty of lucid, I-am-wide-awake-right-now-and-understand-everything-that's-going-on-arou Courtney always makes fun of me about the title of this book and it's sequel The Cygnet and the Firebird --yes BIRD, not BRAND!!
This book has some of that but there are also plenty of lucid, I-am-wide-awake-right-now-and-understand-everything-that's-going-on-around-me-and-will-remember-it-later parts to balance out and ground the dreaminess. Also it has one of my most favorite romantic couples of all time. Also, I think I'm Meguet. If I could be anyone from my favorite fantasy books, it would be her. Nov 05, egelantier rated it really liked it Shelves: Apr 28, Sandra rated it liked it Shelves: I would try to write a proper review for this book but I just don't know: This book is so thin, after all..
I don't have it often, but my eyes glazed over while reading sometimes because I had missed clues before and therefore also had problems with the world-building and understanding the characters. You're simply thrown into the deep and I don't I would try to write a proper review for this book but I just don't know: You're simply thrown into the deep and I don't feel like I ever got a grip on any of the things happening in the book.
But the writing style was gorgeous and the word choices were lovely. Maybe I should try another of Patricia McKillip's books, and hope it will be a little clearer for me. Jul 23, Deborah Burrows rated it it was amazing. It's been a long time since I've read a pure fantasy book, mainly because there are so many terrible fantasy books that I've dipped into and not finished. This is a marvellous depiction of legend, with very real characters and beautifully written to boot. I read it in a whirl, never quite knowing where I was in the maze of the plot, and I finished it in a pretty square in Prague, sitting on a wooden bench.
It is NOT like anything George Martin would write, nor is it like Tolkien - it reminded me It's been a long time since I've read a pure fantasy book, mainly because there are so many terrible fantasy books that I've dipped into and not finished. It is beautiful and engaging and I recommend it unhesitatingly if you want to leave behind this mundane world for a few hours.
Feb 09, Al rated it it was ok. As much as I love McKillip, this book didn't win me over. She got tangled up in deciding between writing a plot-based fantasy which isn't her strength, just ask the Riddle-Master trilogy or her much stronger, in my opinion rich, velvety, dreamy, setting-and-feeling-based fantasies. The story was based on internal symbolism, but these symbols weren't given proper footing or introduction. That said, this is still thoroughly and completely a Patricia McKillip novel, and there were still enjoyable moments.
The Sorceress Summary & Study Guide
Dec 28, Laura rated it liked it Shelves: McKillip is a difficult writer to stick in young adult or adult. This book, like many of her other novels, involves a lot of maturation and growth within the main characters, common in young adult books. The general plot is read-able for young adult readers. But the intricacies of the plot and the sophistication of the wording definitely places these books more in the mature fantasy reader category.
This book specifically weaves a story about magic and family and puzzles that really pull you into McKillip is a difficult writer to stick in young adult or adult. This book specifically weaves a story about magic and family and puzzles that really pull you into the world McKillip has created. If you enjoy fantasy, don't pass up these Cygnet books. I think this one is re-published or getting re-published, so hopefully they'll be easier to find.
Jan 08, Laura rated it really liked it Shelves: A boy who loves a girl and wants to save her. This boy tells the tales of the stars and somehow stumbles into them, finding the constellations come to life. A sorceress who helps him in her quest for power. A house full of rooms that keep changing and a house that can move. A woman claimed by her unknown heritage. A man guarding the gate. Another beautiful, complex, intricate, mystical, mysterious, delightful work by McKillip, although I have to admit I was a bit confu A boy who loves a girl and wants to save her.
Another beautiful, complex, intricate, mystical, mysterious, delightful work by McKillip, although I have to admit I was a bit confused about exactly what happened at the big climax scene and some of the reactions that followed. Dec 16, Kristin rated it liked it Shelves: Beautifully written but it definitely takes a good bit of concentration to stay with the story. I both liked and hated that aspect. I liked that McKillip doesn't just spoon feed everything to the reader but at the same time, I still don't exactly know what happened by the end.
Judging from other reviews, this isn't uncommon so I don't feel terrible about being confused but I still would have liked something more concrete.
I wasn't particularly sympathetic to Corleu but I liked the interactions b Beautifully written but it definitely takes a good bit of concentration to stay with the story. I wasn't particularly sympathetic to Corleu but I liked the interactions between Hew and Meguet. There were plenty of hints towards a great magic system but not enough to where I actually knew what it was. The idea of the "Gatekeeper" was probably my favorite. Dec 13, caracal-eyes rated it liked it Shelves: Would have liked to give it 4 stars, but am going with 3, because while the story was good, the plot and characters interesting, and I liked the elements of legend and magic, it was somehow still 2-dimensional for me--I couldn't really get into it.
I sometimes felt like there wasn't enough detail given, or that events and elements needed better explanation for the reader's understanding. Despite this, I did like this book, and do think I'll read the next one. To be fair, I did jump around betwee Would have liked to give it 4 stars, but am going with 3, because while the story was good, the plot and characters interesting, and I liked the elements of legend and magic, it was somehow still 2-dimensional for me--I couldn't really get into it. Oct 16, Diane rated it really liked it. This book was very enjoyable as are most of the other books by this author.
I really like the other-worldly feeling of her stories as well as the unusual characters who inhabit them. I found this book a bit difficult to get into, by which I mean that it always takes me a few pages to get into the rhythm of the prose. But once that happened, I found the book to be kind of exciting. I liked all of the main characters and the various relationships between them. The book was a quick and rather encha This book was very enjoyable as are most of the other books by this author.
The book was a quick and rather enchanting read. Apr 27, Emmanuelle rated it really liked it. I just discovered this was one of Patricia MacKillip book. When I read it, it was in french and I loved it but soon I lost this book. Since then I read the Forgotten Beast of Eld and just loved it to pieces. I had to read it again and again before being able to understand it better.
Still, very good and fond memories as it has the power to paint vivid images in your mind. Jun 03, Simona rated it really liked it. The story promised so much, everything was building up so nicely, and then the resolution came as a confusion of events - as it is almost always the case for Patricia McKillip - but which I could not make sense of in connection to the rest of the story.
It kind of threw away whatever happened before so that everyone was happy again - too easy Jan 10, Kate rated it really liked it Shelves: I like how McKillip plays with your perspective of what's really going on with the story. I was disappointed by this meandering, confusing fantasy novel by McKillip. No doubt the language was mesmerising, but reading this was like taking some disorientating drug. Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
Book review by Carrie R. Wheadon , Common Sense Media. Third book in mythological mashup series still excites. Michael Scott Fantasy Sign in or join to save for later. Based on 1 review. Based on 3 reviews. Get it now Searching for streaming and purchasing options Common Sense is a nonprofit organization.
Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free. Get it now on Searching for streaming and purchasing options A lot or a little? The parents' guide to what's in this book. Gives background on Stonehenge and Paris' Point Zero, both featured in the story prominently. What parents need to know Parents need to know that the third installment in this popular fantasy series has plenty of mythological beasts and battles, with teenage twins at the center of the conflict.
Continue reading Show less. Stay up to date on new reviews. Get full reviews, ratings, and advice delivered weekly to your inbox. User Reviews Parents say Kids say. There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title. Teen, 16 years old Written by FantasyFiend12 March 20, Kid, 10 years old August 14, In this book it gets a little more violent as there is more Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about How does the author use them for his story? Does it make the story more intriguing, the way these characters are "repurposed"? Magic and Fantasy Book type: Delacorte Press Publication date: May 26, Number of pages: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1.
Greek myths meet fast-paced adventure in boy-demigod tale. The Eyes of Kid Midas. One of the most exciting fantasy-adventures ever. About these links Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase.