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The Cygnet and the Firebird (Cygnet Duology #2)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,110 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Following the novel The Sorceress and the Cygnet, McKillip's characters, the sorceress Nyx and her cousin Meguet, are plunged into the mystery of the firebird, whose haunting cry transforms objects at random. To uncover the identity of the legendary creature who turns into a nameless man at sunrise, they are swept to the edge of the world.
Paperback, 309 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Ace (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30)
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Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

Patricia McKillip is known for writing mostly stand-alone novels, creating original fairytale realms for each new story. Probably the setting of the Cygnet book was too good to let go and so we get to spend more time in the company of Nyx Ro and her family and friends in a sequel. Nyx is the heir of the Ro Holding, the ancient and respect seat of power in a realm infused with subtle yet powerful magics. At the end of the first book, Nyx returns to the ancient fortress ruled by her mother and pro
Feb 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy

Is that a pool of water? of the eye of an enormous dragon sleeping in the desert? or an hallucination caused by wandering around an alternate world with no supplies?
Melissa McShane
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fantasy
I didn't like this one as much as I remembered liking it, possibly because I spent most of my reading time trying to remember the plot instead of just reading it. The Cygnet and the Firebird picks up only a few months after The Sorceress and the Cygnet, when a strange magician slips into the house of Lauro Ro without anyone but Meguet, the guardian, and Nyx, the sorceress, noticing. He's searching for a hidden key that Nyx discovers is linked to the great mage Chrysom, a key that probably opens ...more
Susan Kornfeld
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
McKillip's skill with language is no secret to anyone who's read her. Each of her fantasies weaves poetry into landscape and plot until the book seems as magic as her imagined worlds. Typically her books explore language or music, but The Cygnet and the Firebird, along with the first book in the duology, The Sorceress and the Cygnet, are about harmony.

I loved reading both books: they follow the arc of one of the character's maturation into wisdom, and as we follow that we see the process of har
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time. Well characterized, poetically written, and surreal. She paints a unique world in bold elegant strokes without belaboring the point or over explaining.

I am reading the Cygnet and am once again amazed at how good she is. The two main female characters are gracefully and simply drawn in a way that allows the audience to know who these women. The sorceress routinely walks out of her shoes and forgets to eat. Her motto is better sorry than safe.

The guardian is
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Most reviews that I've read of Patricia McKillip's Cygnet duology seem to express a strong preference for either The Sorceress and the Cygnet or the The Cygnet and the Firebird. This should not be surprising. Despite sharing characters and a fantasy world, they have separate plot lines and widely varying tones. When you come down to it, The Cygnet and the Firebird is more a companion novel than a sequel, although without having read The Sorceress and the Cygnet first, certain things won't make s ...more
Hot Stuff for Cool People
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review was originally posted on Hot Stuff for Cool People.

I don’t even know where to start with this review. This book is such a beautiful, frightening, vivid hallucination. After I read this book, I have weird dreams. I feel like I’m walking around in a fog because this book is so realistic, it leaves the real world looking a bit drab.

‘The Cygnet and the Firebird’, by Patricia A. McKillip, is a fantasy story about two cousins, Nyx and Meguet. The story starts with a magician thief, Rad, w
Paola (A Novel Idea)
Originally posted at A Novel Idea Reviews

Rating: 3/5

An unknown mage has found his way to Ro Holding, in search of a key. Meguet Vervaine, a guardian of Ro Holding, is perplexed by his magic that slows time and conjures shapes from thin air. Even Nyx Ro, mage and heir to the Holding, can’t fathom what he wants. Locked in the tower where the legendary wizard Chrysom once dwelled, Nyx attempts to understand the nature of the key; meanwhile, a glorious and dangerous firebird has appeared at the gate
Jun 19, 2008 rated it liked it
To be honest, it`s my fault for getting the books out of order. Or, at least, I assume I`ve got things misordered since this book has obviously started in the middle of events that I don`t understand the signifcance of or particularly care about. I get the feeling that I should be finding Nyx`s-sister-who-guards-a-gate-for-some-reason and the Gatekeeper(?)`s romance to be cute, while being irritated at other people who get in the way, and sympathetically chagrined for Nyx`s sister whenever a ros ...more
The 'Cygnet', in this book, really, is the HEIR to the realm of the Cygnet, or so I gather (meaning Nyx). Meguet is also involved, since she senses a threat to Nyx in the mysterious goings-on.

My personal opinion is that McKillip just fell in love with the characters she'd introduced in The Sorceress And The Cygnet, and wanted to write a new story of Ro Holding. But in that case, since most of the action takes place in an distant time and place, it isn't really a success along those lines. Corle
Aug 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Despite its uninspiring surface, I liked The Sorceress and the Cygnet for its minor details and supporting characters. Its sequel, The Cygnet and the Firebird, retains all the surface and loses all the charm.

The problem is Nyx Ro: she's a delicious character, but she's a lousy point of entry for the poor reader. She's self-absorbed and inward-focused, but The Sorceress and the Cygnet overcame her alienating aspects by making her a figure of interest, not empathy. (More conventional characters as
Like when I read Riddle-Master in German, reading this in German made the story a fresh experience, but not quite as gripping, perhaps because I am not as close to this story as I am to Riddlemaster. But it still caught at me in different ways and slowed me down so I could appreciate those ways. In English, it seems like they arrive at the Luxour desert not long after the book starts, but it's really a good quarter of the way through.
I still love Rad Ilex as a character, though he is not a view
Jan 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed
A mysterious mage fleetingly appears at Ro Holding looking for a magical object, closely followed by a man with no memory of the past, transformed into a firebird, whose mournful cries turns anything in its path into precious gems or gold.

Convinced the two are connected in some way, Nyx, sorceress and heir to Ro holding searches all her books for knowledge and spells to help the firebird regain his memory. When the mysterious mage reappears, fights with the firebird and abducts her warrior cousi
Jul 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, romance
It was rather hard, at first, to get my bearings in McKillip's magical realm...not too surprising, since I had the misfortune to come across this, the second in the series, before having read the first. The plot snagged me, though, and I spent a good portion of the book breathless and spellbound. McKillip is a skillful writer with a gift for luminous prose.

Unfortunately, when I reached the last few chapters, the entire book fell flat. To me, the ending was entirely lackluster. Meguet, rather tha
Janice (Janicu)
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Sequel to "The Sorceress and the Cygnet". The continuing story of the sorceress Nyx who is heir to Ro Holding, and her cousin Meguet who is Guardian of Ro Holding. A normal day becomes surreal and mysterious as mage walks into Ro Holding, and freezes time in order to find something that Nyx did not even know existed. He is followed soon after by a magical creature whose cry is terrible and whose flames turn carts into jewelled trees. This is an example of the lyrical language to look forward to ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A re-read after some 15-17 years. And it got another star this time.

The first time I read the book, I had the drawback of having read the first one a few years earlier - they really are more suited to be read more back-to-back (even though they are, very much, two separate stories). I also found the story a bit confusing, especially (view spoiler)
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
best confusing and gorgeous fairytale to end the year on! nyx the reclusive swamp witch finds herself to be nux the holder heir and tries to cope with her mother's love and the idea of that not all knowledge is worth the price you pay for it. her cousin miguet the guardian meanwhile tries to guard the household from the stray mage who came to steal a hidden key, but picks a rose instead of a sword in a crucial moment. also features: a crying firebird who screams things into jewels, a desert that ...more
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Cygnet and the Firebird is the sequel (of sorts) to The Sorceress and the Cygnet. It has lovely writing and most fascinating dragons. I never find it quite as satisfying as The Sorceress and the Cygnet, mainly because (view spoiler), but I do very much enjoy re-reading it (and I do tend to read it as a companion to The Sorceress and the Cygnet).
Jennifer Sowle
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just finished this after reading The Sorceress and the Cygnet; wow what a fabulous fantasy trip! I’d only read one other McKillip book in high school -- The Forgotten Beasts of Eld -- and can’t believe I didn’t read any others until now. I will be catching up on her works for some time to come. Strong female characters, bonds of love and friendship, and the possibility of redemption through character growth -- loved it all.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
You know, reading these Cygnet books may be confusing at first because McKillip likes to set up a lot of mystery about the characters but everything does become more clear as you get into the plot. I think unraveling that mystery is what drew me to these books and this author.
This book is the sequal to the Sorceress and the Cygnet and continues the general themes of magic, family, gypsies, and mystery that were all present in the first novel.
P.D.R. Lindsay
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Brilliant. A world so real I could see the dragons! It was good to find Nix settled into her role as Holder's heir and the magic is so natural you don't notice it. It belonged.

I love the idea of constellations having a life of their own.

Again McKillip is talking about more than the adventures of some interesting people in a fascinating place. The intelligent reader gets plenty of ideas to think about.
Aug 16, 2007 is currently reading it
I just started reading this and so far it has sucked me into the story. I had to put it down because I do have to work -a lot and so I haven't had time to pick it up since. I'm really enjoying it though!
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Love Patricia McKillip. Loved this. The first book in the Cygnet Duology was better, but I liked seeing a different side of the Cygnet. It also makes me appreciate McKillip's The Alphabet of Thorn better because it is an exploration of an idea that didn't come to fruition in this book.
Mary C. Moore
Feb 25, 2012 rated it liked it
I didn't realize this was a part of a duo set, so I was lost. She saves it again with her magnificent prose, but this one you can tell is one of her older novels, it doesn't quite have the brilliant maturity of her later stuff.
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
I love Patricia McKillip, but this is probably the worst book of hers that I've read. Her characters all visit the same places at different times, slowly finding out identical information. She does much better with a similar plotline in Alphabet of Thorns.
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I found this difficult to finish for some odd reason. It was very much Patricia McKillip style, but I didn't find it as gripping as I do most of her other books. The narrative seemed to wander a little, so it was harder to follow.
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much better than its prequel, "The Sorceress and the Cygnet". One of the best McKillip books I've read. Never got bored, fascinating ideas, wonderful imagery, beautiful story from beginning to end.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I can't get enough of McKillip's beautiful writing. She has a unique perspective on many standard elements of fantasy and folklore.
Dragons and mages, written in her usual lyrical easy style.
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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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Other Books in the Series

Cygnet Duology (2 books)
  • The Sorceress and the Cygnet (Cygnet, #1)

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