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Ombria in Shadow

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  4,036 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
When Ombria's prince, Royce Greve, breathes his last--in palace rooms high above the city--he leaves his young son and mistress at the mercy of his ancient and powerful great-aunt, Domina Pearl. Meanwhile, in a dreamlike underworld peopled by Ombria's ghosts, a sorceress weaves her spells and brews her potions, never revealing her real face--or true heart. And somewhere in ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Ace Books
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mark monday
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantastickal
this is a beautiful, dreamy fantasy. it is about a fallen city, the mysterious city under that city, two magical beings, a royal bastard, a cast-out mistress, a kind of changeling, a curious scholar, a lonely child prince. it is about ruthless control and equally ruthless revolution against that control. although it does not have faerie, it is a fairy tale, one that is both modern and classic in tone and structure. the writing is splendid; McKillip's words are like gems that she strings together ...more
A. Dawes
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patricia A. Mckillip is a writer with a rare command of rhythm. There's a poetic feel to her work, almost like gentle waves lapping away.

Ombria in Shadow is one of McKillip's adult works. The novel showcases McKillip's talents to an extent unseen in her other stories. McKillip's world building in Ombria in Shadow has the complexities of the most complicated works relating to thrones and power struggles in literature.
McKillip has made the city itself into a wondrous character. Ombria has the un
All of McKillip's novels are beautiful. Her exquisite prose and her ability to capture the sense of magic (both light and dark) that imbues traditional fairy tales ensures that any novel she writes will tantalize and delight. Her style is deliciously archaic, even baroque, and she has a habit of giving the reader the bare minimum of information to make the plot and motivations of her characters understandable, tingeing every action with the spice of mystery. This has worked not very well in some ...more
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fantasy
I love all of McKillip’s work, as least so far. She can really manage enchantment: her Ombria is a strange world, decaying and bright, mysterious and intriguing. There’s a lot going on here: the magic behind Faey and her waxling, the magic behind Domina Pearl, Ducon’s father and Mag’s origins… And there’s characters you can’t help but care about: Kyel, so alone; Lydea, who loves him; Ducon, the bastard son with no designs upon the throne, who spends his time drawing, searching, learning the city ...more
I mean, it's a McKillip book. Of course it's good.

The end was a bit of a mess though; where was the conclusion?
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recipient of McKillip's second World Fantasy Award... and well-deservedly so.

This is definitely one of McKillip's best (does she have a worst? - I don't think so!)
Here, McKillip introduces us to Ombria - a city of shadows and secrets, labyrinthine palaces and alleys, intrigues and magic... Ombria is somewhere between Gormenghast and Tanith Lee's Paradys... that fantasy city that we all dream of (but might not want to actually live in!)

Although the other McKillip book I read recently (Winter Rose
Ombria teeters on the brink of destruction: a child ruler sits on the throne while a dangerous regent vies for power. But Ombria is a city of magic, of hidden doorways and underground sorceresses, and what seems to be her end may only be a transformation. McKillip's illustrative voice creates a fantastic sense of place intertwined with a deep, organic magic: an absorbing, unusual, superbly realized city, Ombria is the book's true protagonist. The characters which people it have melancholy depth ...more
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm only going to review this one book of Patricia McKillip's (ok, maybe one other). I think she is consistently underrated as a fantasy author, at least by me. I never think of her when I think about my favority fantasy writers, but she is wonderful. All of her books are amazing, bordering on mythology and legend, as though they were written in time immemorial and she just discovered and published them. This one in particular touched me deeply, even though (as often happens with her work) I alm ...more
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I was slightly disappointed with this novel and almost gave it 2 stars.

The writing,prose style impressed at times very much but the story was lacking something until the last dozen pages and the characters was a bit thin,not so intresting except Mag,Faey.
Next i want to read one of her Fantasy Masterworks books to really judge if she is to my taste or not. Her prose that seemed full of spark,style lost its lustre because i didnt feel for the story until it was too late.
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
We all know the saying "Never judge a book by its cover", but I ignored this saying, and began this book with a sour attitude because of the cover that was not to my liking. But, we all know that the majority of the time, Kira is very wrong, and I ended up falling in love with this story. Once again, McKillip has woven a beautifully complex tale with amazing decorations adorning it. I feel that the summary on the cover doesn't show how wonderful the story is, so I will atempt one.
Ombria in Shado
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read almost all of McKillip's books, I have come to expect and enjoy a certain style. She has this minimal, vague, poetic way of writing, which I've come to love. Some of her novels are more vague than others (Winter Rose, The Tower at Stony Wood--I'm still not really sure what really happened in those), and Ombria in Shadow falls into the less vague category, but it's still full of McKillip's poetic, lyrical style.

Magic is something that character's in her novel deal with everyday, and w
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another superb Fantasy masterpiece by McKillip and all-time personal favorite. And again, as with my original notes on Forgotten Beasts (McKillip, read immediately following), too much time has passed for me to write a proper review now. But it doesn't matter as I am looking forward to waiting a bit longer to return from within the shadows for a mandatory re-read. If the concept of a fantastical medieval, coastal castle-city that has two dimensional sides, one in light (similar to our world) and ...more
Isa Lavinia
The writing is beautiful, as with all other McKillip's works, however I couldn't get into the story.
I didn't manage to feel much of anything for the characters, and I found the plot boring...
Never thought I'd give less than 5 stars to one of McKillip's books, but here we are :/
Jul 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I read this for a second time and loved it at least as much as the first time. McKillip's rich, poetic and evocative language brings across perfectly her unique and enchanting world, her vivid, original and likeable characters, and her beautiful story. One of my all-time favourite novels.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Una reggente-strega dall'età indefinita governa col pugno di ferro Ombria, un regno misterioso che sembra possedere un doppione speculare e misterioso al quale è collegato attraverso il misterioso "sottomondo", reame di un'altra strega dall'età indefinita che offre a caro prezzo i suoi servigi al mondo di sopra, dove una misteriosa compagine di nobili congiura e si serve di veleni e maledizioni per prendere il potere. In tutto questo fumoso pandemonio si muovono i personaggi principali: la concu ...more
Nov 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful but frustrating book.

I will give Ombria this: it features one of McKillip's best openings, of the Prince of Ombria's mistress and young son playing with hand puppets, while awaiting news of their lord's demise. Soon it comes, and with it the rise of the evil Domina Pearl to power, for though Kyel is rightful heir to the throne, she must act as regent until he comes to age. The mistress is cast out on the street, and Domina (nicknamed the Black Pearl by the frightened masses) begins t
Davide Nole
I have mixed feelings about this book. It's surely a page turner and it lets you be engaged by the plot as it builds up. It's really nice, for the first half, but once the action is built up it all ends too soon, it seems like the unfolding of events doesn't quite match the building of the plot. Still a very nice read, I'd recommend it because it's by a female author, and most of the time people tend to talk about fantasy novels by male authors.
Also... Its setting is medieval, or so it seems, b
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Ombria In Shadow is not a good book.

The first thing I take issue with is the title. Ombria In Shadow. Ending the first word with a vowel and beginning the second word with a vowel completely halts what should be a smooth flow. Say it out loud and prove me right. Either Ombria and In become one unrecognisable pulp of a word, or the reader is forced to insert a pause.

Moving on, McKillip is overly fond of the words Very, Succinctly, and Crooked, and the constant repetitive use of these words gets
Kyle Muntz
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere between fantasy and a fairy tale. This book won the world fantasy award in 2004, and after some research I went into McKillip's work with extremely high expectations. I'm not sure if this book met them exactly, but it was definitely very good. The prose is gorgeous, and in general it reminds me of Catherynne Valente or early Ursula Le Guin... but, importantly, McKillip is a much more refined storyteller, as despite how fluid and impressionistic it was the effect was always still part o ...more
Jul 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fairy-tale
I wish I can like this one as I like The Forgotten Beasts of Eld or Alphabet of Thorn, which—in my opinion—are the best books by Patricia A. McKillip. This book has great characters, beautiful prose, cool setting. But the vagueness of story made a really hard time understanding it, especially the ending. Or maybe it's just me who couldn't make sense of it. Maybe I need a reread to fully grasp the story (which I won't do in some time).

The only reason I keep reading was the characters. Really, I l
Rick Piatt
Odd little book. I listened to it ( and perhaps I wasn't quite paying enough attention. It was almost like it was a mix between a mystery and a fantasy novel. Throughout the book I was constantly second guessing (and often being wrong) what was going on. Honestly I couldn't quite figure out who the book was about - who the main character was. It was more like it was an ensemble of people - most of which were quite interesting. But this put me off more than I thought it might by the e ...more
Oct 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-before
its a beautiful story with a very dreamlike feel to it but i found myself so confused most of the time. some people said there is romance in it but i dont really get whats going on?? so mag and ducon have some sort of connection but i never really found out what that is? the ending was rather abrupt to me. The reason why this was a three star review is because of the characters. Mags was pretty awesome with her gold hair like straw with pins and Ducon with his white hair and opaque eyes. i dunno ...more
Apr 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I love McKillip's writing -- her prose, her characters, the worlds she builds -- but I thought the ending on this one pretty much negated any of the suffering/effort/achievements of the characters throughout the preceding majority of the book, which I hated. Essentially, none of it mattered! Sheesh. So I can only give this 3 stars.

As for the narrator -- Dina Pearlman has narrated about a bazillion books, including a large number of sff books (like the Chanur books, the Kris Longknife books, and
Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This one didn't quite capture me. There were certain compelling chapters where I could feel McKillip's narrative drive starting to make its presence known, but it never quite coalesced. And the ending was quite cryptic - I'm really not sure what happened there.

The other McKillip novel I've read, In the Forests of Serre, was on a totally different level - the atmosphere she conjured up in that one was just amazing, and after a point the narrative became a tidal wave that just grabbed me by the ne
Hmmm... somewhere between 2.5 and 3*. Beautiful descriptions and images throughout - I had no trouble visualizing every scene, and that's no mean feat. McKillip is an incredible word painter. I did not take to the whole Shadow City idea, the hidden underworld, etc. - not real or substantial enough for me. I didn't find it threatening or even interesting. And why was everyone so afraid of Domina Pearl? She didn't seem to do anything, really, except order spells against people - what was her power ...more
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad, the language is truly mesmerizing sometimes, but I had a hard time understanding why the characters acted the way they did and their relationships. By the end the situation is not much clearer: what exactly is going on between Mag, Ducon and Lydea? Why are they saying the things they are saying? And above all, how and whom did the inhabitants of the shadow city help? Too much confusion - it's not that everything should be cleared up by the end, but the aura of mystery that characterizes ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This story had a very vague, dream-like quality to it that left me a little confused as to what actually was going on-especially at the end when everyone except for Mag and Ducon seemed to have no concrete memory of the preceeding events. However, the language was beautiful and the idea of the two sorceresses, Faey and Domina Pearl, battling over power and control of the "real" world kept me intrigued and reading more. I liked Lydea, the cast-off royal mistress, and her self-sacrificing concern ...more
This is typically beautifully written, so let's just take that as a given. When the prince of Ombria dies, he leaves behind his small son Kyel and his mistress Lydea, who are at the mercy of Domina Pearl, the prince's powerful great-aunt. The struggle over who will rule Ombria pulls in not only them, but also the prince's mysterious relative Ducon Greve, the sorceress Faey, and her odd apprentice Mag.

I very much liked the relationships in this one; Ducon and Lydea love little Kyel and are willi
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McKillip is a beautiful writer. If this story doesn't pull you in within the first 50 pages, it is not going to change in the next 240, so you may want to try something else. I was impressed by the first 50 pages, and really liked the entire book. No predictable plot, the story felt meandering. Brief yet thorough characterizations. Seamless mix of "real world" and magical elements. Interesting, mysterious characters. Story of the perfect length. I'll be reading more McKillip.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After loving The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, I was disappointed with this.
Patricia writes beautifully, she can conjure magic on paper with pen. She does that here, she creates a shadowy and mysterious world, but with a dull story. It was like a magical illustration was being shown that had nothing to support it, no depth beneath it. It felt like it was deliberate but it didn't do it for me. I really hope I'll be able to enjoy some more of her work in future though.
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Can someone explain what happens in the end? 3 32 Mar 31, 2013 03:58PM  
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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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“Faey lived, for those who knew how to find her, within Ombria's past. Parts of the city's past lay within time's reach, beneath the streets in great old limestone tunnels: the hovels and mansions and sunken river that Ombria shrugged off like a forgotten skin, and buried beneath itself through the centuries.” 8 likes
“There was the gaudy patch of sunflowers beside the west gate of the palace of the Prince of Ombria, that did nothing all day long but turn their golden-haired, thousand-eyed faces to follow the sun.” 8 likes
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