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Harpist in the Wind

(Riddle-Master #3)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  6,837 ratings  ·  185 reviews
In the midst of conflict and unrest the Prince of Hed solves the puzzle of his future when he learns to harp the wind, discovers who the shape changers are, and understands his own relationship to Deth, harpist of the wizard Ohm.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published 1979 by Atheneum Books
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  6,837 ratings  ·  185 reviews

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Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
A riddle is a tale so familiar you no longer see it; it's simply there, like the air you breathe, the ancient names of Kings echoing in the corners of your house, the sunlight in the corner of your eye; until one day you look at it and something shapeless, voiceless in you opens a third eye and sees it as you have never seen it before. Then you are left with the knowledge of the nameless question in you, and the tale that is no longer meaningless but the one thing in the world that has meaning ...more
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit disappointed with this book. A bit too much mysticism & I wanted to kick some of the main characters a few times. My wife liked it a lot, better than the other two. It certainly, FINALLY, answers the myriad of questions that have been raised & comes to a resounding conclusion, but it wasn't blood thirsty enough & idolizes the idea of 'doing no harm'.

Let me explain. It's not blood thirsty enough because our hero has put up with a lot & this is a sword & sorcery
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, audio, fantasy-scifi
I listened to the series and wasn't captivated. Four years later, I read the books. I got MUCH more out of reading, rather than listening. I found that the story became more gripping. I cried towards the end. I was able to predict some of what happened, but McKillip didn't employ all the normal tropes (only some of them).

Riddles (questions about history and destiny) occur throughout the series, and those unanswered questions bedeviled me. But they were FINALLY and FULLY addressed as the story
“The shape-changers melted out of the trees, flew after him. For a while he raced ahead of them in a blinding surge of speed toward the distant green mountain. But as the sun set, they began to catch up with him. They were of a nameless shape. Their wings gathered gold and red from the sunset; their eyes and talons were of flame” (132). Harpist in the Wind the last book in the Riddle-Master trilogy, is a satisfying conclusion. Patricia McKillip keeps readers in suspense until the very end of the ...more
This is the perfect end to the series. I feel satisfied with the answers to the riddles, and the ending is beautiful, especially Chapter 15, the second to last chapter of the novel. McKillip maintains the mystery throughout most of the novel but provides answers before the reader goes crazy with not knowing. Even after the riddles are pretty much all resolved, the book comes to a nice closing, not too drawn out or anticlimactic.
As a series, I fully enjoyed Riddle-Master. I went on a journey
Amanda Kespohl
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have a confession to make. I actually tried to read Patricia McKillip's Riddle-Master trilogy once before and failed. Despite the glorious things I had heard about the books, I got lost in a maze of odd names and confused about who was who, and I stopped reading about 20-some pages in due to an information overload. But I promised myself that I'd come back to it one day, because some of the things I'd been told about the books made them sound like a story that should not be missed.

To say that
Sometimes I find story-lines that catch me at the heart, and this was one of them. The characters in this series are creative and varied, and the plot goes much deeper than I expected it to when I first stumbled upon these books in a used bookstore. Morgon experiences an incredible amount of character growth and change.

But the part that held me the most was the true identity of (view spoiler) and the relationship this character has with Morgon. (view spoiler)
Kat  Hooper
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some fantasy epics that all literature professors, and most normal people, would consider essential reading for any well-educated person — J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, etc. So, yeah, I read those a long time ago. But beyond that, there's not much fantasy literature that's essential reading. So, for a long time, I didn't read any. In my drive to be educated, I stuck to the classics (which are classic because they're great literature, usually). But one day, maybe 15 years ...more
Ian Mathers
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I think when I was younger I found the way the end of this one played out just a little deflationary, but now I think it's really amazing. I keep going back to the line from the previous book, "they were promised a man of peace", and what it's revealed to mean, in terms of who said it, who "they" were, who made the promise, and who it's said to. I apologize if these reviews have become just impossibly cryptic, but 1. I don't want to spoil any part of these really wonderful books for anyone 2. I ...more
Kevin Michaelis
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After discovering this trilogy more than 2 decades past, I have read the: "Harpist in the Wind," almost once a year. Mostly for the purely symbolic way Ms. McKillip has woven events of riddlery like unto prophecy, and how those events shape and bind upon the Starbearer an unimaginable outcome, foreshadowing the coming of the High One. Surely there is much in these novels that is delightful, powerfully awesome fantasy! There is also realism in the symbolism so captivating and relational to our ...more
This is a series of books that plunges you straight in at the deep end. During the first few chapters of book one, I felt almost like I had missed reading an introduction or a prologue somewhere.... but with the help of a map and the glossary of characters at the end of the book, everything soon started to slot into place. However, this is not a simple tale – the basic concept is unusual, woven into a story which includes sorcerers, shape-shifters, spirit-wraiths and immortals.
My most lasting
So I do like the story this told, but I think I'm sticking with the feeling that the writing just was a bit lost on me.

I did, however, have to stay up until I finished this last night, which says something!
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, maps, fantasy
“He cleared his mind again, let images drift and flow into thought until they floundered once again on the shoals of impossibility.”

Satisfying end to the series. McKillip may feel, with some justification, that this is not great epic fantasy, but it’s a good one. Read all three books in order and at once. What it lacks in epic sweep, it makes up in intimacy and flow.

“You have a name and a destiny. I can only believe that sooner or later you will stumble across some hope.”

Good foreshadowing of
Luke Burrage
Good end to a good series.

Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #374.
I can't really figure out exactly why I didn't like this book and perhaps due to my confusion I rated it three stars (though something in me wants to give it only two). The first thing that comes to my mind is that the delicacy of the first book of the series (Riddlemaster of Hed) was missing, and I think this was because the focus of the story was not on learning about the magic but on using it and noting its effects. There are certainly some delicate and silent moments, but it seemed that ...more
Paul Fergus
Fabulous prose, but pretty substandard story.

The author really gains incredible command of their gift with words. At times the narrative dances through your brain from concept to concept as the main character uses their considerable magic power to understand nature. It really makes for some fine reading all by itself.

Unfortunately, the characters just don't seem to make a lot of internal sense most of the time. The plot drags, and even the action sequences seem to lack urgency. What's at stake
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A magical series, one of the best fantasy series that I have read. This third volume is a great read. I have re-read these three books many times and I think they hold up remarkably well. This concluding volume is especially good end because it answers all of the riddles.

Timeless fantasy from a master
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-books
i don't know why but for some reason i got into parts 1 and 2 more than this final part of the trilogy. can't put my finger on it ... too much? too complex? just not the right time / mood?

beautifully written as always, of course, and the world created by mckillip is a marvel.
Jennifer Freitag
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patricia McKillip is pretty nearly as good as Rosemary Sutcliff in wringing my heart. This was a fantastic conclusion to her Riddle-Master trilogy, cutting deeply, bitter-sweet, full of beautiful prose and a powerful plot. My library would be sorely lacking without this trilogy.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this series. It seems to have been produced on a fairly low budget. For every book in the series, the descriptions on the back cover combine serious inaccuracies with some spoiler-y content, so I would recommend just ignoring them.

I'm not good at this kind of description, but I'll give it a try. There was something about the writing that was both evocative and obscure. Like it was evoking images and emotions in my mind, but as if the world is in a fog. Perhaps that was the purpose, but
This review is for the trilogy, which I just finished!

As I read the books I kept wondering why the plot (prose? storytelling?) was so opaque. It was done beautifully so, but I definitely had a hard time tracking what was going on. So the book became an exercise in wondering what the purpose of the opacity was. It was very enjoyable, though. I thought that it would be a fairly standard young male hero goes on a quest story, but book two obviously upended that notion, which I appreciated. I wished
Izzy Corbo
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Satisfying conclusion (and a bit sad) to this series. I would give this book 3 1/2 stars and the overall series just under 3 stars-due to how good the last novel and the 1st half of the first book is. I think this would be a very good challenging read for teenagers before tackling the LotR series. Some very cool magical premises in the series with shape changers, mind control and energy delivery. I don't think I would go back to reading this whole series, but I will be reading some more Patricia ...more
L.D. Colter
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gives me great pleasure to see this entire set remain one of my favorite reads, despite the passage of time since I first discovered it in the 1970s or early 80s. Wonderful writing, unique and compelling imagery, and a great story.
Ryan Middlebrook
Mar 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy readers, teenagers
Shelves: series, fantasy
The conclusion of the Riddle-Master series finds Morgon and Raederle struggling to find the mysterious High One and the reason for the war that has spread across the realm. The quests begins simply enough as they head for the ancient wizard’s city of Lungold. This book, like the other two, has almost all of its action take place on the way to destinations instead of at them. Morgon and his bride-to-be struggle on the journey and have their characters developed. They fall into traps, escape, get ...more
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
There's a lot to recommend about this book - and a lot to get nit picky about, if you have a hunger for nits. Maybe with salt.

The world has both the classic sense of ...whimsy (?) (that word kind of demands italics, doesn't it?) that you just don't see in fantasy anymore (or at least I haven't seen in years) paired with a sense of eternal foreboding (those pesky bad guys...always locked up, never killed) and some of the weird evasiveness that you see in modern works like the Malazan stuff -
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of High Fantasy
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: A Reader's Guide to Fantasy: Seven-League Shelf
This is the third and final part of the Riddle-Master Trilogy, and you should definitely read the two earlier books first, this is definitely no standalone, you should really think of it as one novel in three parts. The first book, The Riddle-Master of Hed belongs to the title character, Morgon of Hed, Riddle-master and Farmer-Prince who finds the most challenging riddle of all is his own identity and destiny. The next book is the story of Raederlie, Morgon's love who in Heir of Sea and Fire ...more
I'm not sure why this book receives such high praise around these parts. It's ok. It's a perfectly functional epic fantasy story, with a satisfying arc for the main character and an intriguing world. Why didn't I particularly like it, then?

I think my problem is similar to the one I had with another fantasy classic from the 70s/80s, The Chronicles of Amber. This series also focuses on descriptions of visions, rapidly changing surroundings etc. and is as confusing to read and chaotic in places, if
Vanora Rydel
One of my dearest friends suggested this trilogy, saying that it was fabulous and worth my time. She's an author and artist and every book she's suggested has been exactly what she told me to expect... and yet there is always an exception. I really wanted to enjoy these books, but I just couldn't. They do get better as the plot progresses, but the plot itself leaves something to be desired. Its hard for me to put into words what made me dislike this book, it could that my standards are high, but ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this whole trilogy over a few months, with some other books in between to clear my palate.

For years I've been reading bits of early fantasy from the likes of Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber but avoiding anything more modern than Tolkien except for Harry Potter and more magic-realist/literary stuff. I don't have a strong reason for this, but I guess I just find myself with low tolerance for people writing about trolls and dwarves post-Zeppelin and Sabbath. I have a friend's copy of Game
Stephanie Herron
With the Riddle-master trilogy just become available on kindle I re-read all three (The Riddle Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire and Harpist in the Wind. I first read these books back in the 1970s and they, together with (inevitably) the Lord of the Rings, are largely responsible for my starting to read fantasy. It is now many years since I read these books as they are in storage in NZ while I work in Africa, so I was delighted to find them available as e-books and then even more delighted to ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: original publication date 2 12 Mar 19, 2015 05:48PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Riddle-Master (3 books)
  • The Riddle-Master of Hed (Riddle-Master, #1)
  • Heir of Sea and Fire (Riddle-Master, #2)
“Night is not something to endure until dawn. It is an element, like wind or fire. Darkness is its own kingdom; it moves to its own laws, and many living things dwell in it.” 50 likes
“All I wanted, even when I hated you most, was some poor, barren, parched excuse to love you. But you only gave me riddles.” 21 likes
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