Considering Patricia McKillip

I thought I knew what cold was, before cold stripped me bare of thought, then blinded me and froze my heart. I could not feel such cold and live; cold forced me into something other, something not quite human, who held a dream with bones of ice, and did not remember names, only what we once had been — a flower on a vine, a fall of light. — Patricia McKillip’s Winter Rose

If you think from my posts here that I read just short fiction, rest assured that I do like a good novel when I get the chance to read for long periods of time which around here is more likely to happen in deep winter than in high summer.

Though I can’t say I like everything she’s written, I’m very fond of most of her work as they are of a length that makes reading one in an evening while enjoying an Irish coffee or two quite doable. Just read her interconnected novels, Winter Rose and Solstice Wood, to see just how good she is.

Like de Lint, McKillip’s affinity for music and musicians runs deep. Our staff member in reviewing her short story collection, Harrowing the Dragon, had choice words on this matter:  ”A Matter of Music’ with its look at bards who recreate epics using only instruments other than voice is my favourite as it’s truly stunning in its language. Over twenty years old at this point — and the second oldest piece here after ‘The Harrowing of the Dragon of Boarsbreath’ — its descriptions of the bard playing literally took my breath away!’

Not that she isn’t capable of a sprawling narrative as well that works well: The Riddle-Master Trilogy which consists of Riddle-Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, and Harpist in the Wind, is perhaps her best-known and most beloved work. It has the richness of Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea series, and like Charles de Lint’s Moonheart, it holds up amazingly well for an early work.

If you want to learn more about her and her fiction, go read our McKillip edition.

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