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The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  9,386 Ratings  ·  386 Reviews
Almost destroyed because of a man's fear and greed, Sybel, a beautiful young sorceress, embarks on a quest for revenge that proves equally destructive. Winner of the World Fantasy award, this exquisitely written story has something for almost every reader: adventure, romance and a resonant mythology that reveals powerful truths about human nature. Locus praised it for its ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 10th 2005 by Gollancz (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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mark monday
how to express how much I love Patricia McKillip and her books, how much her stories move me, how they slowly and invisibly transform from enthralling fairy tale to a genuinely emotional experience? how to describe the prose: so refined and elegant, so expressive, so light and delicate, so deep and beautiful, and yet often so simple? just so: her arrangements are perfect, my own kind of perfect. how to describe all of that, to make into something as plodding as a book review? love is a subjectiv ...more
Isa Lavinia
Nov 25, 2011 Isa Lavinia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Isa by: Hirondelle
One day Patricia A. McKillip will write a bad book and that'll be the first sign of the impending apocalypse. I have no idea how I went through so many years of my life without having read her books. Actually, that would probably be because there are no Portuguese translations and I have to buy the originals from the UK.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is, in a word, delightful. Like all of McKillip's books the reader is lost in her magical worlds from the very first page. She writes things and they
A. Dawes
Sep 13, 2016 A. Dawes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patricia A. Mckillip is one of my favourite fantasy writers. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect in a PC world, I find her voice uniquely feminine. Her prose is both rhythmical and intoxicating.

In this novel of isolation and seclusion, Sybil is brought up by her father on Eld mountain. Her sole companions are animals, which her father calls to the area. When Sybil's father passes away, isolated Sybil - still with only her beasts for company- studies magic to evolve into a powerful sor
Gail Carriger
Sep 10, 2014 Gail Carriger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
This is my favorite book of all time. If I had to pick a desert island book, it would be this one.

There is something about the way this book flows that is actually literary magic. It's about magic, and riddles, and all sort of other legendary things but it's like fractal mathematics: beautiful, impossible for an ordinary human to understand, and yet hypnotic. Just the opening paragraph is chilling, and thrilling, and all sort of other trilling llls in a row. I can't describe this book, because i
Jan 03, 2015 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dragons
Somehow, from the midst of feeling dreadful because of this cold, I realised that what I really wanted to read was something by Patricia McKillip. It’s so strange how I disliked the first book of hers I read; I feel like I appreciate her work more with each book I do read. And this one… it’s fairytale-like, mythic — a review on GR said ‘parable like’, and yes: that too. It’s full of epic fantasy elements but the real struggle is between taking revenge and being true to who you really are and tho ...more
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is one of the great classics of fantasy, though rarely shows up on lists of important books , perhaps because it is the story of a powerful woman learning to be human.

Sybel is an extremely powerful mage, and has been raised on one side of a clear dichotomy between power/knowledge and love/hate/humanity. She is the first daughter in a line of mages who have devoted themselves to knowledge, who studied and gained the true names of the world's greatest creatures, and col
Bark's Book Nonsense
Nov 08, 2010 Bark's Book Nonsense rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Enter a land where wise old boars speak, as well as falcons, lions and cats. A land filled with sorcery, beauty and evil . . .

Known as the ice white lady, Sybil was raised to live to care only for the mythical beasts under her control - powerful, beautiful and wise, and feared by man - she knows none of the ways of men and prefers to keep it that way. Until one day, when a young babe is left in her arms, and she learns to love, and gets entangled in a War she wants no part of.

Aug 26, 2016 Jojo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2008, fantasy
Dude, I'm glad this was not the first McKillip book I ever read. I've loved everything I've read by her before, but this was terrible. Which is too bad, since I always heard it was so great. But I definitely wouldn't have given her other books a chance if I'd come across this one first.

Well, okay, terrible might be a little strong. There are well-written parts. Still, skill matters little when I hated a) the characters, b) the plot, and c) seriously, every single character. And parts of it weren
Laura (Kyahgirl)
Jul 30, 2013 Laura (Kyahgirl) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
3.5/5; 4 stars; B+

The dreamy quality of McKillip's writing draws a person in and makes the reader feel like they are part of the fairytale. I like how this author makes some pretty in depth commentary on society, gender roles, politics and intangible things like hopes and dreams. She doesn't lay it out directly but weaves it into her story.
On its surface this is kind of a children's quest story but the underlying messages are deeper than that. There is quite a lot of navel gazing involved in gle
Oliviu Craznic
May 08, 2016 Oliviu Craznic rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
A very beautiful, interesting and well-written fantasy, recommended to me by the critic, writer and academic Florin Pitea, to whom I express my thanks.
The Shayne-Train
This was a bit denser than the usual bedtime-reading fare, both in the writing and in the feelz. But the little one loved it, and that's what matters.
Oct 22, 2015 Suzannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
"I am an old woman with a weakness for meddling, and people give me rings and soft furs and bright ribbons. I weave on a small loom with threads of simple colours. But Sybel--now there is a weave, her weave, with a loom the size of Eldwold and threads of living scarlet."

A recent conversation about Patricia McKillip reminded me how much I liked The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, the first book of hers I read. I always meant to read it again, but somehow never got around to it. This I have now done.

A mo
Oct 02, 2014 C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In truth, I can’t really review this book. It largely defined fantasy for me. I read it when it first came out, and have loved it ever since. It is one of the few books (it was branded a ‘young adult’ book at the time) that I enjoyed then and continue to enjoy almost 40 years later. The writing is some of the most beautiful I have read—the type of graceful, economical, musical prose that is not met with (or sadder yet—attempted) anymore.

This is not a ‘big’ book, full of grand sweeping loudness
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is the third McKillip book I’ve read, and my clear favorite so far. The spare, detached style puts one in mind of a fairy tale, but the story works because it’s a very human and emotional one; in the end the narrative detachment doesn’t distance the reader from the tale so much as prevent all the strong emotion from dragging it into melodrama.

The blurb is all wrong (and the cover seems to be based on the blurb): it’ll tell you it’s about a 16-year-old and implies that this is one of those t
Celine Low
Apr 16, 2014 Celine Low rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and mythical.

The opposite of love is fear.

Hate is a defence against fear. Fear is both cause and consequence of hate. Hate perpetuates fear, when fear of others turns to fear of oneself, and one cannot look inward without dying of what one sees there. But perfect love is freedom and it drives out all fear.

The hideous monster Rommalb/Blammor that reveals to one the dark mirror image of oneself - one's shadow-self of fear and hate - turns, at the end, into the grace and purity, beauty an
It's been a long time since I read this book, but I still remember it well & fondly for it's beautiful writing. There's something of Tolkien's epic story telling, but it is warmer, as is the whole story. At first distant, but it sucked me in until I really cared & understood the characters.

Like LeGuin's early EarthSea trilogy, she packs a lot of story into the few pages, too. The magic is magical, not fully explained, but not overpowering nor too convenient. There also isn't the strict
Jun 11, 2015 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesantan pocetak sa finom malom mitologijom ali posle toga sve je nekako meh. Knjiga umesto da ima fokus na mitolska bica (ili ne tako mitoloska) je vise prica o zelji, moci i soveti. Kao takva nije losa ali nekako mi je malo plitka pa sam blago razocaran.

Sdruge strane fino se cita, proza je pitka i ne smara, opisi su umereni a opet odlicni da ocrtaju ono sto je spisateljica htela da kaze a i sama prica drzi paznju i ima dosta interesantan kraj.

Rekao bih 3.5/5 i u svakom slucaju vredna citan
Sep 06, 2016 Alexa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fab-16
This tale wends its way into your heart as a charming fantasy, yet comes out the other end as a dark morality play. Rich with an artful simplicity, evocative and charming, with some really dark moments.
Aug 30, 2011 Lightreads rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
A . . . parable – yeah, that’s close enough – about the sorceress on an isolated mountain the king she raises and the man she falls in love with, and how she is drawn back down into the world of men and politics and power and greed.

This is a hard book. It has this precise, chilly sort of narration, like it’s dissecting this story even as the characters act it out with dramatic, stylized gestures. The sorceress can call creatures to her – a black swan, a dragon – and bind them to her. The book is
Ben Loory
Sep 23, 2015 Ben Loory rated it liked it
i really enjoyed this in the beginning; mckillip writes simply and beautifully and there is mystery and space to her fantasy world-- it's more vance than tolkien, and hence nicely free of the weight of all that "world building" that everyone's so hepped up on today. i dug the setup and the whole "calling" business and the gradual & incessant intrusion of the outer world of men... it's all good stuff! but after a while i just got kinda bored-- "yeah i get where this is going"-- not too many s ...more
Aug 11, 2010 ADK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing! I've read it at least four times and expect that I can probably read another dozen times and never get sick of it. The main character shows that human's personality is circumstantial and that even the coldest heart can be thawed out with a little tender loving care, It is short and it leaves you aching for more of its magic. Someday I may find another book like this one where it is short and sweet and infuriating because it stands alone. Regardless, this book will definitel ...more
A remarkably non-epic book for a tale of wizards, a kingdom sliding into civil war, and talking beasts (incl. a dragon). Not epic, that is, in the usual sense. To be sure, it has all the elements, but they're beside the point. The point instead is a young, powerful woman wizard who can't escape the expectations of power; she wants to be left alone, to not have to make choices that affect others, but this is a luxury even she can not afford. No one can.

And despite all her determination to the co
Apr 30, 2010 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
B brought another million boxes of books home, and I saw this book, grabbed it, and screamed, "THIS IS AN AWESOME BOOK!" Then I read the back and said, "Have I even read this?"

Seriously, I didn't remember anything about it except that I had read it at some point and totally loved it. And WOW. Just as awesome as I remembered. I made it halfway through not remembering anything, then I remembered one little thing, and then another little thing... and I vaguely remembered one detail about the ending
Dec 23, 2014 Jessie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fantasy, 2014
I think The New York Times had it right when they described this book as "rich and regal". At first I thought it may have been a little brief a description, but really, it is very, very apt. I imagined the whole tale as a vibrant medieval tapestry, so complex in it's making that all the images have a life of their own. The beasts were gorgeous and terrifying, and each character (except for Coren who I seemed to have developed an unreasonable vendetta) were superbly created. Sybel has got to be o ...more
Hannah Abbott
Nov 17, 2014 Hannah Abbott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
This book is on my short shelf of favorites and possibly my favorite fantasy of all time. I revel in McKillip's ethereal language. I want to be her remote heroine, even when she finds herself making choices she really didn't want to make, although perhaps less so when she is manipulating people. I instantly warm to her hero, who is far more human than heroic and who seems to flounder his way to what he wants more by intuition than intention. I long to be loved the way he loves Sybel. I delight i ...more
Melissa McShane
It's been a long time since I've read this, maybe not since I was a teen. Patricia McKillip has always been one of the great stylists of fantasy literature, possibly of all literature, and when you consider that this was only her third published book, and arguably her first for adult readers, it's even more impressive. As always, it's the imagery that draws me in: the golden Lyon Gules, the silver-tongued boar Cyrin, Sybel's house in Eld Mountain with its green fire. Then it's the story that kee ...more
Nov 24, 2008 Henry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I first read this book probably 20 years ago, and was a little leery of re-reading it, since I had remembered loving it, but worried that I wouldn't like it so much anymore. Fortunately, I ended up loving it as much as the first time. It is a short book, but the plot is tight, and weaves an enchanting mood throughout. There is no time to develop a vast, detailed world such as Middle Earth, but McKillip manages to give her small world as real a feel as any other. I also appreciated that this is w ...more
Κωνσταντίνος Τσουρέκης
Άξια πήρε παγκόσμιο βραβείο φαντασίας το 1975. Μια μικρή ιστοριούλα με όλα τα καλά της φαντασίας. Μαγικά πλάσματα, μυστήριο, έρωτας, μίσος, μαγεία, βασίλεια. Το Λίραλεν η αποκορύφωση στην υπόθεση. Ενώ περιμένεις ότι θα εξελιχθεί αλλιώς η ιστορία τελικά όλα ήταν μπροστά στα μάτια σου και δεν φαίνονταν γιατί η McKillip ήξερε πως να τα κρύψει. Τέσσερα αστεράκια γιατί θα μπορούσε να έχει και περιγραφή πολέμου που με ωραίο τρόπο απέφυγε. Αξίζει να διαβαστεί.
Florin Pitea
Feb 01, 2013 Florin Pitea rated it it was amazing
An intriguing high fantasy in which the protagonist evolves quite unexpectedly. Highly recommended. For an extended review, please visit my blog here:
Oct 13, 2016 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
Some strikingly poetic writing, but the story was too abstract or symbolic for my tastes. I kept wondering about mundane things, like "How did Sybel learn to cook or garden? Who taught her to embroider? How does she pay for things? How did she keep a baby alive?" And I never really grokked her "career" collecting magical beasts. It seemed weird and controlling. I probably would've enjoyed this book much more as a teenager, before my brain got so clouded with practicalities. ;)
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Patricia Anne McKillip is an American author of fantasy and science fiction novels, distinguished by lyrical, delicate prose and careful attention to detail and characterization. She is a past winner of the World Fantasy Award and Locus Award, and she lives in Oregon. Most of her recent novels have cover paintings by Kinuko Y. Craft. She is married to David Lunde, a poet.

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“The man was hit in one eye by a stone, and that eye turned inward so that it looked into his mind, and he died of what he saw there” 56 likes
“What do you think love is- a thing to startle from the heart like a bird at every shout or blow? You can fly from me, high as you choose into your darkness, but you will see me always beneath you, no matter how far away, with my face turned to you. My heart is in your heart. I gave it to you with my name that night and you are its guardian, to treasure it, or let it whither and die. I do not understand you. I am angry with you. I am hurt and helpless, but nothing will fill the ache of the hollowness in me where your name would echo if I lost you.” 33 likes
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