Kathy's Reviews > Riddle-Master

Riddle-Master by Patricia A. McKillip
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's review
Jan 09, 2011

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bookshelves: fantasy, fantasy-romance, ghost, mystery, wizard-witch
Read in January, 2011

A trilogy, all in one – The Riddle-Master of Hed; Heir of Sea and Fire; harpist in the Wind.
The context is a variety of kingdoms in the Realm of the High One, in which the land law is the magic most supreme – binding the king/queen to the land so that they feel the birth of each animal, the grass growing, the corn seed growing, and each has a land-heir, the brother, son, daughter that will inherit the magic at their death – and the land law was deemed at the Settlement, following a terrible war of the Earth-Masters, where the High One wrested control of the land and shared it with the kings… 1,000 years later, the High One seems to be absent, except for the strength of the land law… Wizards flourished 700 hundred years ago, but their leader destroyed their city, and the wizards disappeared…
And we meet Morgon, Prince of Hed – land lord since his father’s death 6 months earlier – with 3 stars on his forehead, pointing to an unknown destiny beyond peaceful Hed. He is a Master of Riddles, having studied with the masters, and he won a riddle game with a dead king of An to win his crown – not knowing that Raederle of An is promised by her king father to be the wife of the one to win the crown.
When Deth, the High One’s harpist, comes to offer condolences, and tells him of the king’s promise, Morgon decides to go to An to see if Raederle would consider marrying him (he is great friends with her brother, and was drawn to her)… and his journey begins…
Morgon, through a series of events, understands that there is a destiny concerning the stars that he is drawn to… he tries to go home, to ignore this destiny but is unable to be true to himself if he does not move forward… Deth travels with him on and off, offering him quiet, and step by step a deeper understanding of his power and the need… Raederle has her own destiny that she alternately embraces and hides from – she is of the EarthMasters / Shapeshifters – who seem to out to kill Morgon – and she has great untapped power… and once she finally connects with Morgon (the end of book 2) she is fully committed to him and joining him on his journey – offering companionship, loyalty, wisdom, peace, and love…
Deth is in fact the High One, and Morgon is his land heir… 1,000 years ago as he saw the evil of the power of the EarthMasters, he fought a war with them that is not over – at his death (which is near) , the EarthMasters’ powers would return and the land and its people would be lost… Morgon’s innate goodness and heart guide him in spite of Deth’s silence on so much, and his apparent betrayal (leaving him for a year trapped with wizard Ohm who was trying to take his power), Morgon is drawn to Deth… after leaving the torture of Ohm’s mountain, he tracks Deth to kill him, and yet he cannot… Morgon must face his trials to be ready to be the land heir and to overcome the EarthMasters…
The stories are beautiful… the love between Morgon and Deth and Morgon and Raederle is touching… but much of the story in unstated, and takes more to understand… Raederle and Morgon do not marry, and yet they are soulmates… and she is of the sea, he of the land – and the last page suggests that they will only meet once every hundred years … hmmmm

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