What makes something a Fantasy Masterwork? Did the book challenge society in some way? Does it explore the human condition especially well? Did it originate some fundamental aspect of fantasy writing? Was it the first (or best) example of a new subgenre? Or was it simply a good book with easily obtainable publishing rights? I found myself asking these questions and more as I reflected upon my reading experience. Riddle-Master doesn’t re-invent genre and doesn’t blatantly challenge society. Riddle-Master is post-Tolkien, secondary-world epic fantasy that manages to be non-derivative. It’s a book of beautiful subtly and style, it’s dream-like and can be difficult to grasp, with the reward in the journey. It embraces an innate sense of past and dream, searches for itself, and lingers just beyond memory. Yes, it’s a Masterwork, and for the very reasons that it may fail to appeal to modern sensibilities.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Review: Riddle-Master by Patricia A. McKillip
My review of Riddle-Master by Patricia A. McKillip (Book Depository, Powell’s Books, Indiebound) is live over at the SF and Fantasy Masterworks Reading Project (this books also goes by The Riddle-Master’s Game or simply The Riddle-Master of Hed, which is the first book in the original trilogy). I liked it quite a bit, though I think that that very style that makes it so great may be a turn-off to many readers these days. Ironically, I noticed that this book is out-of-stock at The Book Depository, even though the stated point of the Fantasy Masterworks edition to keep the book in print. An excerpt of the review is below.