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Saturday, September 09, 2006

cover of Riddle-Master

Savored every word. Will read this book again, without a doubt. So much truth hidden in its pages and spoken clearly. McKillip almost makes this implausible place seem possible, in such a way that one almost wishes to make a visit -- and then one stops reading and sadly remembers it is not a place one can visit. But one can continue reading about Morgan of Hed, who has more than one true name. And the woman he loves, Raederle of An, the second most beautiful woman in the world. And Deth the High One's Harpist -- who also has more than one true name. And their struggle to solve riddle upon riddle and fight for the people and places and things they love.

Land-rule is how the Kings and Queens have power. It is given to them, and each has one land-heir who will inherit their power and ties to the land once they die. The rulers are Danan of Isig, who can become a tree and see in the darkness; Har of Osterland, who can become almost any animal and sees the truth easily; the Morgul of Herun, who can see through almost anything; Heureu of Ymris, who was married to a shape-changer and whose one-eyed brother and land-heir, Astrin, sees more clearly than most two-eyed men; Mathom, King of the Three Portions (An, Aum, and Hel), who can become a crow and who has visions about the troubling future; and Morgan of Hed, who simply wants to live at peace on his small island, but is taken from it to answer too many riddles and become something he hardly recognizes. So -- the idea of land-rule is intriguing. Each ruler is part of their land -- knowing each rock, tree, animal, human, and being bound to them. When something steps onto their land which is not their own, they know instinctively. These rulers did not ask for power, but it was given to them and they have opportunities to use it well or poorly. Along with this comes an instinctive trust of the High One, whom none of them has seen or heard from (except through His Harpist), for too long to remember. But they trust Him even though they cannot see Him, and will obey His will without question when it is shared with Him. (Like Christians are called to instinctively trust our High One and believe Him whenever we hear from Him, His Word, or His people. And it is written on our hearts!)

(Careful -- contains spoilers!!) Names are often important in fantasy books, and this one is not unusual in that. But -- there are a number of people who have three names (Morgan, Deth, and Master Ohm). And three is always significant to a Christian -- especially because these three men could be compared to Jesus, God the Father, and the AntiChrist. They all have great power, and Morgan (the Christ-like figure) goes from simply knowing the land-rule of Hed and loving riddles, to being the most powerful person in the land. Everyone is drawn to Morgan and Deth, without reason - but simply because that trust is born in them. And it has been earned as well, which gives the land-rulers reason to obey this blind trust they have. As one would expect in a riddle-book, names are important, and some people must discover over and over again what their own name is -- and what the names of others are.

collects The Riddle-Master of Hed (1976), Heir of Sea and Fire (1977) and Harpist in the Wind (1979)
Author: Patricia McKillip
Date published:1999
Series:Riddle Master Trilogy
Number of pages:571
Notes: repeat reading -- in about 4 days


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