Author: Patricia McKillip.
Sybel, with frost-white hair and eyes as black as Drede’s heart, is the sorceress of Eldwold, and she has lived alone on the mountain with her five beasts all her life. So when Coren Sirle, seventh son of a seventh son and nemesis of the king, comes knocking at her door with an infant, she has no idea what to do. Take him and love him, Coren begs, and the sorceress does, raising the boy to young manhood and letting herself love him as nothing else. Then Coren returns, wishing the boy back. Sybel refuses, determined to keep Tamlorn away from the tangled webs of politics and war. But when Tamlorn begs to meet his father, Sybel calls the king of Eldwold to her doorstep to meet his son, setting in motion chains of events that even she will be unable to stop. Tamlorn wants a father. Drede, king of Eldwold, wants the iceflower sorceress for his own. And Sybel wants only to be left alone to call the Liralen – until her power is shaken and her confidence ravaged. Then wakes her anger.
I think The Forgotten Beasts of Eld may be something of an acquired taste. The first time I finished it I was bemused, finding it both intriguing and confusing. The second time I thought it was beautiful. And the third time I fell in love. The prose itself is lovely, rich-colored imagery and sound coming to life. Metaphors and meaning are imbedded throughout the strange tale. The beginning is slow, opening with a three-page genealogy and continuing only a little more briskly, but once finished with the past the fascinating character and deep setting keeps it moving.
Sexual content: It is thought that a boy was born by adultery. (It turns out they were mistaken.) A wizard once called a woman to him to marry. There is an incident with Sybel she mentions later, admitting that she met Coren after a fight, dress torn and exposing her breasts, so that he would want her.
Violence: Non-graphic. A dragon attacks a man, a wizard threatens to destroy a woman’s will, there is a large battle in which men are killed. A wizard is killed by a monster he called up. (The battle is mostly off-screen.)