Princess Lissar is the daughter of the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms. When her mother falls ill, she extracts a promise from the king that hePrincess Lissar is the daughter of the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms. When her mother falls ill, she extracts a promise from the king that he will remarry again, but only to a woman who matches the queen in beauty. Lissar is mostly forgotten in the kingdom's mourning. However, a neighboring royal family sends their condolences and a puppy for Lissar. Ash, the fleethound puppy, is the only joy in Lissar's life, as she spends the next two years training her dog, learning herbalism, and avoiding her father. On her 17th birthday, when she becomes eligible to be married, Lissar's father decides that his daughter matches her mother's beauty and he will marry her. What follows is a brutal assault that leaves Lissar physically, mentally, and emotionally damaged. She flees the castle and is transformed by the moon goddess, becoming the mysterious Deerskin. As she tries to start a new life in the kingdom where Ash came from, she must grapple with her painful memories.
Deerskin is a retelling of Charles Perrault's story "Donkeyskin." I was introduced to a variation of this story through Jim Henson's The Storyteller, where it was called "Sapsorrow." This story is beautiful and heartbreaking. McKinley's language is very traditional, moving at a slow but steady pace, which builds up great amounts of tension in the first part of the book. The relationship between Ash and Lissar will appeal to any dog-person - I gave my dog a lot of squeezes while reading, though she's the farthest thing from a fleethound! I was very caught up in Lissar's transformation from forgotten princess to a strong, almost-mythical woman.
This isn't an easy read. I was drawn in by the characters and the language, and I had a pretty good-sized knot in my stomach during the first part of the book (and some of the second)! Lissar's healing process is difficult and worth reading, by those who enjoy retold fairy tales or those looking for a strong female character....more
After reading the rest of the series, my opinion of this book has gone up quite a bit. It really sets the stage for the story of Cathan and Beldyn. IfAfter reading the rest of the series, my opinion of this book has gone up quite a bit. It really sets the stage for the story of Cathan and Beldyn. If you've ever read any of the Dragonlance series, you've most likely heard about the Kingpriest and the fiery mountain that was dropped onto Istar as punishment for his demands upon the gods. Well, this is the series that fleshes that out and its probably one of the best crafted of the Dragonlance series.
Chris Pierson incorporates elements of gaming into his stories while also reconciling those elements with the DL folklore (which sometimes varies a great deal from traditional D&D). He also breathes life into characters that have become almost goofy caricatures... Fistandantilus and Beldinas, the Kingpriest. Here we see why Beldinas was so awe-inspiring - and you wonder how it all goes so wrong. We also see that Fistandantilus was cruel, powerful, and calculating wizard... Pierson doesn't shy away from gore that you normally don't find in DL books. But the best character, by far, is Cathan, a young man who throws away his faith when his family is almost completely wiped out by disease and he must resort to life as a bandit. Cathan's role in the story of Istar is much larger than you would ever suspect.
I really enjoyed this series and was actually a little surprised at it. The opening is definitely dry... maybe a little too much description of the opulence of Istar and the fabulous feasts for me. But as things get moving and we see how Beldyn came into power, the story will start to grab you. This was, for me, the weakest of the trilogy, but it was still a good book....more
Okay, I'm a Neil Gaiman nut, but it took me ages to read American Gods. And I think the book was overhyped to me. It really didn't have the same appeaOkay, I'm a Neil Gaiman nut, but it took me ages to read American Gods. And I think the book was overhyped to me. It really didn't have the same appeal that Sandman did. Maybe part of my problem was listening to the audio version, which did not have great sound quality and the narrator was really awkward. He sounded like he should be reading with a corncob pipe in his mouth, which is fine for characters like Wednesday, Czernobog, and Hinzelmann, but terrible for Laura and makes it sound like your grandfather is reading you a lot of strange sex scenes. Blerg! On top of that, I really didn't care for Shadow or for the in-between stories about how the gods came to inhabit America. The pace was just too slow and ponderous for me. Perhaps that's what comes from reading too many comic books? :P...more