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Monday, July 17, 2006

cover of Ombria in Shadow

Enjoyed this book, as I have enjoyed the other few things I've read by McKillip. A story of individuals who together create a force strong enough to radically change the world. Not that they aim for that, but it begins to happen when their lives intermingle. Domina Pearl, who wants to rule the land of Ombria and suck the life out of it (as she has done to herself) begins the book by gaining power to rule, and wants more. Few are willing to stand up to her or to ask her questions, but those few who do make all the difference.

The characters almost fit into categories for a fairy tale. The Evil Stepmother -- Domina Pearl, who has been alive longer than anyone can remember and whose magic skills are almost first among the land. The Knowledge-Seeker -- Camas Erl, who loves knowledge almost more than life itself. The Grieving Prince -- Ducon, who does not fit anywhere well, but because of that can draw together the unexpected. The Young Prince -- Kyel, who wants to be loved but those he trusts are taken from him. The Beautiful Young Woman -- Lydea, mistress to the dead ruler, who now fits neither in the court or in her father's tavern, also drawing together the unexpected. The Sorceress -- Faey, who lives beneath the city, working for anyone who will pay, with more power than anyone expects. The Waxling -- Mag, who has a knack for disappearing and knowing more than she should.

Mag, the waxling, is a wonderful character, who discovers she is human when she is seven. She lives under the city in the past with Faey, the sorceress. The city is sinking underground and has done so for many years, so there are pieces of the city's history. Mag knows all the passages from 'normal' life into this ancient amalgamation of life where she lives with Faey. Mag is the piece that ties together everyone else in the story. She is curious enough to be willing to get into trouble in order to find information, and tricky enough to usually not get caught. Even willing to meddle in Faey's work, when it is important enough. Mag grew up knowing Faey and not really anyone else, but she still has ideas of what is right and wrong. Which seems so true -- most people have ideas of right and wrong, which may be part cultural. Enjoyable to read about this girl who discovers what it means to think for herself, to trust herself, to grow up, to love.

Title:Ombria in Shadow
Author: Patricia McKillip
Date published:2002
Genre: Fantasy
Number of pages: 298
Notes: Recommended by Lark (who last read it in 2005)


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