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Ombria in Shadow

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  3,719 Ratings  ·  199 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
Dec 22, 2011 mark monday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantastickal
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
A. Dawes
Sep 03, 2016 A. Dawes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patricia A. Mckillip is a writer with a rare command of rhythm. There's a poetic feel to her work, almost like gentle waves lapping away.

Ombria in Shadow is one of McKillip's adult works. The novel showcases McKillip's talents to an extent unseen in her other stories. McKillip's world building in Ombria in Shadow has the complexities of the most complicated works relating to thrones and power struggles in literature.
McKillip has made the city itself into a wondrous character. Ombria has the un
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
Apr 30, 2015 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fantasy
I love all of McKillip’s work, as least so far. She can really manage enchantment: her Ombria is a strange world, decaying and bright, mysterious and intriguing. There’s a lot going on here: the magic behind Faey and her waxling, the magic behind Domina Pearl, Ducon’s father and Mag’s origins… And there’s characters you can’t help but care about: Kyel, so alone; Lydea, who loves him; Ducon, the bastard son with no designs upon the throne, who spends his time drawing, searching, learning the city ...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
Feb 05, 2009 Maryanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 2015 Mohammed rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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.
Althea Ann
Sep 28, 2013 Althea Ann rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 25, 2007 Kira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Oct 01, 2011 Beth rated it it was amazing
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
Another superb Fantasy masterpiece by McKillip and all-time personal favorite. And again, as with my original notes on Forgotten Beasts (McKillip, read immediately following), too much time has passed for me to write a proper review now. But it doesn't matter as I am looking forward to waiting a bit longer to return from within the shadows for a mandatory re-read. If the concept of a fantastical medieval, coastal castle-city that has two dimensional sides, one in light (similar to our world) and ...more
Sep 13, 2011 Katri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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.
Kyle Muntz
Dec 26, 2014 Kyle Muntz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 24, 2016 Contrarius rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I love McKillip's writing -- her prose, her characters, the worlds she builds -- but I thought the ending on this one pretty much negated any of the suffering/effort/achievements of the characters throughout the preceding majority of the book, which I hated. Essentially, none of it mattered! Sheesh. So I can only give this 3 stars.

As for the narrator -- Dina Pearlman has narrated about a bazillion books, including a large number of sff books (like the Chanur books, the Kris Longknife books, and
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
Aug 21, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McKillip is a beautiful writer. If this story doesn't pull you in within the first 50 pages, it is not going to change in the next 240, so you may want to try something else. I was impressed by the first 50 pages, and really liked the entire book. No predictable plot, the story felt meandering. Brief yet thorough characterizations. Seamless mix of "real world" and magical elements. Interesting, mysterious characters. Story of the perfect length. I'll be reading more McKillip.
Jun 06, 2007 Mary-Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
This book is basically the story of a society in turmoil after the death of its ruler and follows the perspectives of a few key figures who traverse the barriers between a city and a shadow city that are intertwined. The key figures are the heir, Kyel, the regent, Domina Pearl, the nephew of the deceased prince, Ducon Greve, the prince's mistress, Lydea and also Faey and Mag, the magical and uncontrollable figures who move at will through the shadowy world of magic.
Sep 24, 2016 Margit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who reads Ms. McKillip knows the kind of fantasy she writes. Her stories always seem very dark though they often have bright(ish) endings. This one is about what happens when light and shadow overlap. This is only the third McKillip book I've read, but I have become a huge fan. I enjoy her non-traditional style of fantasy with its darker tone.
Steven Long
Oct 26, 2014 Steven Long rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ombria in Shadow is a surreal, thoughtful read. McKillip is a strong, imaginative writer, and I'll have to read more of her work.
Oct 15, 2016 7thTrooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

Detta är nog den vackraste boken jag läst på länge. Med evokativt språk målas det upp en slags dystopisk sagovärld; en stad delad i två där varje del är åtskiljd från den andra antingen geografiskt, temporalt eller bäggedera. Det är aldrig riktigt klart exakt vad förhållandet mellan Ombria och dess skuggstad är för något. Det är i och för sig bara till dess fördel då det ökar mystiken och därmed även stämningen, en stämning som redan ligger tjock över hela boken. När den först gavs ut (2002) kne
Matt Maker
Jan 12, 2017 Matt Maker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this one up off of the communal shelf here at Sasona Co-op and started idly reading it. It has a very distinct Fantasy-genre voice, oddly formal and extremely floral, with extended jaunts into metaphorical descriptions of events that are never actually made concrete, so we are left with an impressionistic memory that serves the story well. Example: the main character: at first you might think she's a ghost, doing all kinds of physically impossible things as she goes from place to place, ...more
Dec 13, 2016 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? I have never been disappointed by any book by Patricia McKillip and I still remain not disappointed. Her books read sort of like fairy tales, which I really like. Her style of writing is kind of lyrical and sometimes it takes a bit of time to get used to this style. I love how she writes her characters. I love the mystery of the plotting. This book didn't have an HEA ending but perhaps more of a HFN ending. I am running out of her books that I haven't read yet.
Nov 23, 2016 Kieran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, contemporary
Patricia McKillip writes beautifully but does occasionally diverge too far from the action. What she achieves in world-building and atmosphere she loses in pacing and timing.
Nevertheless it is still an excellent book with all the hallmarks of fantasy writing, that made me fall in love with the genre in the first place.
Isa Lavinia
The writing is beautiful, as with all other McKillip's works, however I couldn't get into the story.
I didn't manage to feel much of anything for the characters, and I found the plot boring...
Never thought I'd give less than 5 stars to one of McKillip's books, but here we are :/
Nov 18, 2016 Tanisdawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great imagery and lovely language, very imaginative. Also, very confusing. I still don't know where Mag came from.
Artjom Hatsaturjants
A true adult fairy tale.
Nov 08, 2016 Milliwall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairytale, sublime prose, a magical underworld.... couldn't put it down.
Nov 03, 2016 Tatra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful fantasy world with amazing characters.
Amanda Kespohl
Jul 27, 2013 Amanda Kespohl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
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Can someone explain what happens in the end? 3 31 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.

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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.” 8 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.” 7 likes
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