Book Review – The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

Many years ago, I read The Riddle-Master of Hed series by Patricia A. McKillip, and I had loved that series. I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up another book this this author, but one of my book clubs recently chose to read this one – The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. This was a stand-alone fantasy tale and it won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1975.

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Here is the blurb:

Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no-one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the exquisite and mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments.

But Sybel’s solitude is to be shattered when a desperate soldier arrives bearing a mysterious child. Soon Sybel will discover that the world of men is full of love, deceit, and the temptations of vast power.

Sybel’s story reads like a fairy tale and I found this book thoroughly enjoyable. I read the entire thing in about a day and a half! As much as she wants to stay out of the political events and conflicts, Sybel is inevitably drawn into them. Her loyalty is tested and torn as the characters evolve, and I liked how she is not without her flaws.

The “forgotten beasts” come from the mythology of this land but are very much present physically in the time and place of this story. They aren’t tame though, and they even cause Sybel trouble, for she has the ability to call them and communicate with them, but does not truly control them.

This is also a romance here, and while it is not the main emphasis of the story, I felt that it added to both the conflict and the resolution of the tale.

After reading The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, I want to go back to read more of Patricia A. McKillip’s work. Have you read any of her other works and have suggestions? Let me know in the comments (above).

Find more of my reviews here.

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