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Sorcerer's Son

(The Book of Elementals #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  588 ratings  ·  46 reviews
As Cray Ormoru, son of the enchantress Delivev, grows to be a man in magical Castle Spinweb, he yearns to find his father, who disappeared years before on a heroic mission. And so Cray sets out on the journey which would take him from town to castle to a fortress of bronze, totally unprepared for the sorrows and dangers that lie ahead. For the fate of Cray's father would o ...more
Paperback, 380 pages
Published February 7th 1989 by Roc (first published 1979)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  588 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Asghar Abbas
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best fantasies I have ever read. I really enjoyed the depiction of true friendship in it.
This is another one of those books I first read around two decades ago. I'm pleased to say it holds up to what I remembered of it. It's one of those epic quest type fantasies, with the bulk of the book being about Cray's search for the father he never knew.

Cray's mother is a great sorceress who can control spiders, snakes, vines, and anything weaved from thread. (It's creepy, yet cool.)

Cray's father, who was only around long enough to get his mother pregnant, presented himself as a knight. So ra
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A terrific fantasy from the under known Phyllis Eisenstein.
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

After the sorceress Delivev Ormoru rejects his marriage proposal, sorcerer Smada Rezhyk becomes worried that she's out to get him. In order to reduce her powers so that he'll have time to weave himself a protective gold shirt, Rezhyk sends his demon slave Gildrum to impregnate Delivev with Rezhyk's own seed. Gildrum takes on the form of a handsome young knight (Mellor) and shows up injured at Delivev's doorstep. As expected, Delivev falls in love with Mell
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: forfun
This book was recommended to me by a friend. It... was a page turner... but in part because it was ridiculous. It would be a lie to say that this book doesn't have a plot, but it would also be a lie to say that this book has more than six pages of actual *action*. The rest is just... well... dialogue. And not very good dialogue. Just like
Guy: 'man, Cray, I hate being poor.'
Cray: 'you're not poor now that you're with me!'
Guy: Why would you take in someone like me? I am below your social status!
Leon Aldrich
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1979
Fellow Amazonians, please log into Amazon and add this book to kindle publishing request list. And while there are many low priced paperbacks available, my OCD prohibits me from reading books with: possible missing pages, loose pages, worn covers, broken spines, dog eared pages, doodles on pages, fingerprint food smudges, etc.

That and my Kindle Fire gets insanely jealous if I spend any time at the local library or purchase non-digital books.
Cheryl Dyson
Jul 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I don't know why I love this book so ludicrously much, but I want to read it again. I adore it.
Crystal Carroll
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delicious combination of romance, fantasy, and bildungsroman.

Cray's journey is interesting because everything is defined by his unknown father. Who in the end, well, his biological father is no father to him.

The fantasy setting is not only intriguing, but transgressive. Consider this, the demon, who is the love of Delivev's life spends most of the story wearing the clay shaped body of a little girl. Gender being a transumutive thing for beings all soul and shaped bodies. He/She wears the bod
Molly Lee
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really adored this book as a kid. I think it still holds up, however there may be some nostalgia that is making me love it as an adult. I think the world that Eisenstein created with its rules of magic were really quite absorbing.
Rebecca Huston
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keepers, fantasy
A beautifully written fantasy novel with grownup emotions and actions, and one of my favourites ever since it was released back in the seventies. There was a sequel, but it is not as well-written as this one was.
Fumphwoog, Lady of all Sorrows
REALLY GOOD! I really liked this one!
Stephen J. Wolf
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my kind of story. It was well told and an interesting spin on magic and demons.
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keeper
Loved this book as a kid!
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this many, many years ago, but it's one that has stuck with me. I'll be keeping an eye out for it when I'm in used bookstores to see if it holds up over time.
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually read this some years ago. This is an absorbing, original fantasy by a writer who is rather less known than others, but shouldn't be.
Douglas Milewski
Sorcerer's Son by Phyllis Eisenstein follow the unlikely birth of boy who grows up with a sorcerer mother, then when he's old enough, going out on an adventure to find his long missing father. This is very much a young man's adventure, as the protagonist is only about 15-17 over the course of the story. Despite being very charmed by the whole work, the tale failed to land with me. I'm the wrong age, I guess.

The first third of book worked well with me, but as the story wore on, I found myself fla
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to D-day by: Top 100 Modern Fantasy List
Pleasant fantasy concerning a young man who grew up alone with his sorcerer mother, seeking to find his father who he believes to have been a knight. In his quest to find his unknown father he finds that not all is what it seems.
Sorcerer's Son is enjoyable if slight. There isn't much in the way of action and the characters are quite one dimensional with the exception of the demon Gildrum. The world building is non-existent although there are some interesting ideas around demons. Not terrible but
Denise Matthews
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another of my favourite fantasy series.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I read the second book first otherwise I wouldn't have read this at all.
Ian Racey
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I mean, the thing about this book is, that with about twenty pages left, I put it down, and didn’t come back to it for two weeks. At which point I only finally forced myself to pick it up again and finish it so that I could read something else. It was pleasant enough for most of its length, though it suffered from having a protagonist be so unlikeably stubborn, but in its last act, when Cray went and explored the demon world, it really went off the rails. Such a thorough exploration of demons an ...more
Mark Muckerman
May 09, 2016 rated it liked it
So, my appraisal of the story is "it was okay". That said, I think it merits more than the two stars based on creativity/originality of plot & premise, and a foundation-setting that shows promise for later volumes and development of multiple character & story arcs.

Standard sword & sorcery: personal quest, peril, anguish, redemption. However, decently told, and with a new & interesting twist on the premise & practice of magic. That creativity alone merits praise for the read,
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sword-challenge
I really enjoyed this despite it's age. It seems like a typical coming of age quest for Cray and yet it really has almost three parts to his growth. The quest seems to have no ending and yet three distinct endings and I really enjoyed that we see how Cray deals with his changing goals and yet remains true to himself. I found that I enjoyed the fact that the villain wasn't especially villainous just a prisoner of his own paranoia. I think the true star of this show however was Gildrum the demon. ...more
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. The storyline is stunningly original, the world is very detailed and realistic and the novel is very well written. What I admired was how well the story flows - once you start you can't stop. And one great thing this book does is it skims over all the boring bits - the number of years that pass in this book is impressive - and this is a trap most other books fall into. There are no boring lengthy descriptions and the author isn't afraid to cover decades in a few pages, which is goo ...more
Cat Noe
Any book that I go out of my way to re-purchase after losing the first copy gets at least considered for a fifth star. Yes, my tastes have veered away from fantasy over the last few years, and this would likely score lower if I met it for the first time today. However, this tale charmed and delighted me at the time, and has stood multiple readings over the years without losing any of the original enchantment.

And how I found it in the first place? It had the most-worn spine in the fiction section
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Spiders as familiars was pretty unusual. This is a story about a son of a witch so he has familiars, little ones with 8 legs. Like all teenagers Cray decides he wants to be something different, such as a knight like his father, Gildrum. Instead of following on with the studies with his mother, Delivev, he decides to seek his father. However the knight wasn't really a man but a demon sent to destroy the witch's power nor was he really Cray's father.
Jason Towers
A fantasy novel about a teenage boy that, happily, isn't aimed at a readership of teenage boys. Eisenstein's prose is flawless and the first half of the book is rich with insight into human behaviour. The second half lapses into more abstract fantasy, which I find less appealing, so it's three stars instead of four. Cover painting by the always-excellent Peter Elson.
Brenda Clough
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a super fantasy novel. A highly original magic system, great characters, and a plot that just grinds up the complications and tension. One of my favorites, and I can't think why it isn't better known.
Overall I enjoyed this, although the plot did drag at times and it was very tropey in places. However, the characterisation was consistent and the build-up to the finale made sense. The finale was excellent.
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delivev is a great character. She's the ultimate single mother, powerful but loving. I enjoyed the world/magical structure that the author put together. The demonology magic was especially well thought out. Cray is your typical callow youth-on-a-quest archetype, you can't help but root for him.
First time I read this, perhaps ten+ years ago, I rated it 4/5 and on a second reading I have to bump it up. This is a pleasure to read.
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Phyllis Eisenstein was born in Chicago in 1946 and, except for two years in Germany and one winter in Upper Michigan as an Air Force wife, has spent her life there. In her early student days, she worked as a butcher, grocery clerk, bowling alley pin-setter, and tutor. She dropped out of college to join her new husband Alex overseas, eventually selling two stories in 1969, the first being a collabo ...more

Other books in the series

The Book of Elementals (3 books)
  • The Crystal Palace (The Book of Elementals, #2)
  • The City in Stone (The Book of Elementals, #3)