Tor.com content by

Julie E. Czerneda

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
All

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

How Patricia McKillip’s The Riddlemaster of Hed Let Me Write Fantasy

I met The Riddlemaster of Hed in the fall of 1978, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, during my grad studies in biology. The author, Patricia McKillip, I’d encountered in an undergrad course in fantasy; her book, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, was by far my favorite from that reading list, so I’d kept my eye out for more. I pounced on the mass market, the one pictured above, at the university bookstore. The Heir of Sea and Fire was there too, but it would take another year before I’d have the finale, Harpist in the Wind, in my hands. The books follow Morgon, the Prince of Hed, a humble little country, on his quest to discover the meaning of the stars embedded in his forehead and what happened to his parents, killed at sea. He is a riddlemaster, a scholar trained to use the hints and partial revelations of history to uncover the truth. His first success in a battle of riddles and wits wins him a dead king’s crown and the hand of Raederle, herself descended from shapechanging sorcerers. As Morgon and Raederle, helped by the High One’s Harpist, chase their personal mysteries, the answers disturb those long buried underground, renewing a war from the beginnings of time. To keep the peace and safe their world, they will need to solve the most terrifying riddle of all: why?

What was awesome about McKillip’s story? It marked the first time I refused to read the new one, in my hands, without rereading the previous book(s) first, a habit I’ve continued to this day, with any story I love this much. It’s not because I forget details as years pass. I don’t, not really. I think it’s to put off the moment I finish the new one. To linger, longer, in worlds I’ve grown to value, before the moment when yes, it’s done and I must leave again.

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Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

Read an Excerpt from The Gossamer Mage

Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.

Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage. For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die.

To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive…

The Goassamer Mage, a new fantasy epic from Julie E. Czerneda, is available August 6th from DAW.

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