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Ombria in Shadow

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  2,945 ratings  ·  154 reviews
As Ombria in Shadow demonstrates, World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip (author of Riddle-Master, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and other novels) ranks with Ursula K. Le Guin and Jane Yolen as one of the great fantasists of the 20th century--and the 21st.

The Prince of Ombria lies dying, and already his sinister great-aunt, Domina Pearl--called the Black Pearl--is

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 17th 2002 by Ace Hardcover (first published January 1st 2002)
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mark monday
this is a beautiful, dreamy fantasy. it is about a fallen city, the mysterious city under that city, two magical beings, a royal bastard, a cast-out mistress, a kind of changeling, a curious scholar, a lonely child prince. it is about ruthless control and equally ruthless revolution against that control. although it does not have faerie, it is a fairy tale, one that is both modern and classic in tone and structure. the writing is splendid; McKillip's words are like gems that she strings together ...more
All of McKillip's novels are beautiful. Her exquisite prose and her ability to capture the sense of magic (both light and dark) that imbues traditional fairy tales ensures that any novel she writes will tantalize and delight. Her style is deliciously archaic, even baroque, and she has a habit of giving the reader the bare minimum of information to make the plot and motivations of her characters understandable, tingeing every action with the spice of mystery. This has worked not very well in some ...more
Ombria teeters on the brink of destruction: a child ruler sits on the throne while a dangerous regent vies for power. But Ombria is a city of magic, of hidden doorways and underground sorceresses, and what seems to be her end may only be a transformation. McKillip's illustrative voice creates a fantastic sense of place intertwined with a deep, organic magic: an absorbing, unusual, superbly realized city, Ombria is the book's true protagonist. The characters which people it have melancholy depth ...more
I'm only going to review this one book of Patricia McKillip's (ok, maybe one other). I think she is consistently underrated as a fantasy author, at least by me. I never think of her when I think about my favority fantasy writers, but she is wonderful. All of her books are amazing, bordering on mythology and legend, as though they were written in time immemorial and she just discovered and published them. This one in particular touched me deeply, even though (as often happens with her work) I alm ...more
Kyle Muntz
Somewhere between fantasy and a fairy tale. This book won the world fantasy award in 2004, and after some research I went into McKillip's work with extremely high expectations. I'm not sure if this book met them exactly, but it was definitely very good. The prose is gorgeous, and in general it reminds me of Catherynne Valente or early Ursula Le Guin... but, importantly, McKillip is a much more refined storyteller, as despite how fluid and impressionistic it was the effect was always still part o ...more
Althea Ann
Recipient of McKillip's second World Fantasy Award... and well-deservedly so.

This is definitely one of McKillip's best (does she have a worst? - I don't think so!)
Here, McKillip introduces us to Ombria - a city of shadows and secrets, labyrinthine palaces and alleys, intrigues and magic... Ombria is somewhere between Gormenghast and Tanith Lee's Paradys... that fantasy city that we all dream of (but might not want to actually live in!)

Although the other McKillip book I read recently (Winter Rose
Having read almost all of McKillip's books, I have come to expect and enjoy a certain style. She has this minimal, vague, poetic way of writing, which I've come to love. Some of her novels are more vague than others (Winter Rose, The Tower at Stony Wood--I'm still not really sure what really happened in those), and Ombria in Shadow falls into the less vague category, but it's still full of McKillip's poetic, lyrical style.

Magic is something that character's in her novel deal with everyday, and w
We all know the saying "Never judge a book by its cover", but I ignored this saying, and began this book with a sour attitude because of the cover that was not to my liking. But, we all know that the majority of the time, Kira is very wrong, and I ended up falling in love with this story. Once again, McKillip has woven a beautifully complex tale with amazing decorations adorning it. I feel that the summary on the cover doesn't show how wonderful the story is, so I will atempt one.
Ombria in Shado
Steven M.  Long
Ombria in Shadow is a surreal, thoughtful read. McKillip is a strong, imaginative writer, and I'll have to read more of her work.
This is typically beautifully written, so let's just take that as a given. When the prince of Ombria dies, he leaves behind his small son Kyel and his mistress Lydea, who are at the mercy of Domina Pearl, the prince's powerful great-aunt. The struggle over who will rule Ombria pulls in not only them, but also the prince's mysterious relative Ducon Greve, the sorceress Faey, and her odd apprentice Mag.

I very much liked the relationships in this one; Ducon and Lydea love little Kyel and are willi
Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip was not such an enjoyable novel as I had hoped. Initially it felt like a pale, flavourless imitation of Peake's The Gormenghast Novels, then it lost even that "accolade".

The plot unwinds in the city-state of Ombria. One regent dies and a kind of mediocre, power-hungry sorceress takes over. Ombria and especially the castle has a myriad of secrets, secret passageways, hidden rooms and secrets. Did I mention they were secret? They were so secret that everyo
Royce Greve, Ombria's ruling prince, is dead. His six-year-old son, Kyel, now rules Ombria; the ancient Domina Pearl rules Kyel. While the inscrutable regent weaves murderous plots and frustrated nobles conspire against her, Kyel's life depends on three neutral players moving between Ombria and its ghost-inhabited shadows: Lydea, his father's discarded mistress; Ducon, his bastard cousin; and Mag, a girl apprenticed to the subterranean sorceress who controls Ombria's fate.

Ombria in Shadow is pro
I was slightly disappointed with this novel and almost gave it 2 stars.

The writing,prose style impressed at times very much but the story was lacking something until the last dozen pages and the characters was a bit thin,not so intresting except Mag,Faey.
Next i want to read one of her Fantasy Masterworks books to really judge if she is to my taste or not. Her prose that seemed full of spark,style lost its lustre because i didnt feel for the story until it was too late.
Setting/World Building: 5/5
Main Character: 3/5 (If only because there were 3 of them, and it was a bit confusing bouncing back and forth. In the process, some of them got less depth than they should have.)
Other Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Triggering/Issues: 5/5 None

AVERAGED TOTAL: 4.3 out of 5, rounded to 4.

This was a very beautiful, poetic book. There's no doubt about that. McKillip's writing is always very poetic, but this book was written especially so. It's done in this way that sor
It was good enough that I'll pick up the other title that was recommended to me. But the ending was a let-down. I was never going to fully embrace the story since, as I learned by the end, the premise is one I couldn't buy into. I won't say too much, except that Harold and the Purple Crayon could hang out with one of the characters just fine (and that was where it lost me).

I am not particularly fond of the type of fantasy that tosses glitter into the air while stage-whispering "Magic!" By which
Rick Piatt
Odd little book. I listened to it ( and perhaps I wasn't quite paying enough attention. It was almost like it was a mix between a mystery and a fantasy novel. Throughout the book I was constantly second guessing (and often being wrong) what was going on. Honestly I couldn't quite figure out who the book was about - who the main character was. It was more like it was an ensemble of people - most of which were quite interesting. But this put me off more than I thought it might by the e ...more
I read this for a second time and loved it at least as much as the first time. McKillip's rich, poetic and evocative language brings across perfectly her unique and enchanting world, her vivid, original and likeable characters, and her beautiful story. One of my all-time favourite novels.
Jessica Robinson
I initially bought Patricia A. McKillip's novels for the cover artwork by Kinuko Y. Craft. Eventually I decided that if the artwork commissioned for these tales was so magical and rich, I ought to give the stories a chance! Boy was I amazed to find that McKillip would become one of my most loved authors!
McKillip weaves completely original fairy tales that are rich, dark and mystical; like the fairy tales of ol'. I found her work to be extremely creative and unique, and refreshing in their origi
A beautiful but frustrating book.

I will give Ombria this: it features one of McKillip's best openings, of the Prince of Ombria's mistress and young son playing with hand puppets, while awaiting news of their lord's demise. Soon it comes, and with it the rise of the evil Domina Pearl to power, for though Kyel is rightful heir to the throne, she must act as regent until he comes to age. The mistress is cast out on the street, and Domina (nicknamed the Black Pearl by the frightened masses) begins t
I am torn about this book. And I am because I wish I could love it completely, but I can't. It took too many chapters for this story to trap me the way McKillip's books usually do; I just couldn't get into the story or the characters at the beginning; I didn't feel the urge to pick up the book again after I had put it down.

And then McKillip's magic kicked in at some point. I found myself spellbound by this shadow world and the sorceress that lives underground and her waxling, and Kyel, the youn
Maureen E
Ombria in Shadow

One of my favorite McKillip bookks, I decided to re-read this one recently. I found the story as beautiful and haunting as I remembered. The city of Ombria and its hidden shadow city seem both tantalizingly familiar and utterly foreign. Most of the characters shift between good and bad as the story progresses and their actions reveal or hide their real intentions. McKillip's prose shines here, evoking a half-hidden world of shadows and light.

(and you can click {HERE} for a full-
Stefan Yates
I really enjoyed this book, but for some reason it's been really hard to write this review.

Ombria in Shadow is not the typical fantasy that I normally read. There is not much action or traditional fantasy elements present here, but McKillip creates a fascinating story with rich characters and an intriguing plot. I found it very hard to put down from beginning to end.

This is a novel filled with much political intrigue. There are attempted assassinations, power coups, witches with spells for hire
I've been avidly devouring McKillip's books for the past year. There is something enchanting about her prose and the fairy tale stories she tells that keeps me coming back to her for more. The last few books I read by her were a little disappointing, but I didn't find this one so. It wasn't as wonderful as Alphabet of Thorn or Song for the Basilisk, but I still enjoyed it. And here's why:

A murdered prince, a defenseless young heir, a discarded mistress, a power-hungry centuries-old great-aunt, a
Celine Low
Beautiful language, though sometimes prone to cliches, and sometimes she wears me out with repetitions of certain phrases. And sometimes things are said or conveyed rather inelegantly. But in general not a bad job; her concepts or themes may be nothing new but her way of exploring it is interesting: history as illusion, historical truth unknowable, our pursuit of it fruitless - where the world exists right alongside what she calls the shadow world - of history, literature ... the moments of brea ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I was excited to try my first McKillip book, and was hooked by the beginning, but this turned into a rather frustrating read.

The city-state of Ombria is in decline, made worse when its prince suddenly dies and the sinister, seemingly-immortal Domina Pearl takes over as regent for the five-year-old heir, Kyel. And.... well, the plot is what frustrated me about this book. The writing has a dreamlike quality, and the story didn’t seem to be moving toward the obvious confrontation, and I got impatie
Amanda Kespohl
Patricia McKillip is one of those writers who, much like Peter S. Beagle, makes the rest of us lowly wordsmiths want to hang up our words and call it a day. Maybe it's sentences like "The river narrowed, quickened, its surface trembling like the eyes of dreamers" or phrases like "but in that house who could assume that even fire and water would not conspire?" that make me melt into a puddle of envy. Or maybe it's the fact that I loved her characters better in the first five pages than I've loved ...more
Mary Catelli
The prince of Ombria is dying, and his mistress Lydea is telling his son and heir, Kyel, tales of the other city, the shadow city, until he has died, and Dominia Pearl, the mysterious Black Pearl who dabbles in sorcery and has a pirate fleet, and takes over the regency once the prince dies, has Lydea thrown out into the street. She manages, somehow, to escape back to her father's tavern.

Mag watches and helps her. She is the waxling of a sorceress, Faye, who told her that she made her out of wax,
Denyse Loeb
The ruler of Ombria has died and his great-aunt, Domina Pearl wastes no time in taking over as his young son's regent. Lydea, his mistress, must find a way to protect the poor prince, Kyel, even though she's been kicked out of the palace with only the clothes on her back. With the help of Mag, a mysterious girl who serves a sorceress known as Faey, and the bastard son of the ruler's younger sister, Ducan, Lydea unravels the mystery of the shadow Ombria and reaches out from her lowly position as ...more
Ombria in Shadow is a beautifully written book about a kingdom in turmoil. The prince has died and his heir is a five year old boy. The boy's great aunt has been plotting for years to take over and now she has a chance to be regent and control the young prince. Amidst the political menuvering are a royal bastard, the dead prince's mistress, a mysterious sorceress and her assistant trying to find their place in Ombria. But is Ombria what it seems? There is a legend of another Ombria that exists i ...more
I don't know how many times I've read this book in the past 10 years... but each time I discover it anew (something about McKillip's writing makes one forget the details and come back to the story each time with the same wonder). This is her most haunting book, and her darkest - with the clearest evil and the most deaths. And it is beautiful all the same. There is a pallor of fear hanging over Ombria at the death of Prince Royce Greve - the new regent, known as the Black Pearl, older than anyone ...more
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Can someone explain what happens in the end? 3 26 Mar 31, 2013 03:58PM  
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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.

According to Fantasy Book
More about Patricia A. McKillip...
Riddle-Master: The Complete Trilogy (Riddle-Master, #1-3) The Forgotten Beasts of Eld The Riddle-Master of Hed (Riddle-Master, #1) Heir of Sea and Fire (Riddle-Master, #2) Winter Rose (Winter Rose, #1)

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“Faey lived, for those who knew how to find her, within Ombria's past. Parts of the city's past lay within time's reach, beneath the streets in great old limestone tunnels: the hovels and mansions and sunken river that Ombria shrugged off like a forgotten skin, and buried beneath itself through the centuries.” 6 likes
“There was the gaudy patch of sunflowers beside the west gate of the palace of the Prince of Ombria, that did nothing all day long but turn their golden-haired, thousand-eyed faces to follow the sun.” 4 likes
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