Thursday, November 16, 2006

Review: _Harrowing the Dragon_ by Patricia McKillip

Patricia McKillip is a master Fantasy author of many books, some of them have won awards. She writes highly entertaining and thought provoking stories and books that are loved by many people. Her short stories have been collected recently in Harrowing the Dragon, a book with many appealing stories for readers.

The collection opens with “The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath.” People live on an island that is frozen in ice most of the year. They mine for gold in the mountain of the island, which is honeycombed with caves. Peka is a seventeen year old miner who returns to the island after a short time on the mainland. She meets Ryd Yarrow, another returned native of Hoarsbreath. He has become a Dragon Harrower and wants to save the island from a dragon. Ms. McKillip traces these young people’s lives with a vivid story about winter and change.

“The Fellowship of the Dragon” follows five women sent on a journey to save the queen’s harper. Anne is the leader who faces losses as her group travels in a land of magic to confront a dragon. She learns many things about life on her quest. The story is a compelling adventure told with vivid descriptions and interesting characters.

A story about a tower is represented in “Lady of the Skulls.” The tower stands in the middle of a barren, desert plain. It is tended by a lone woman who tends the tower and its treasure. Six knights come to try to get the treasure. Each one must try to find the most precious thing in the tower. If they choose wrong then they die. It is a poignant tale about loneliness and what truly matters in the world. Readers will find this story memorable.

In “The Stranger,” Syl sees a strange man play music on her way home one evening. He weaves the colors in the sunset sky into beautiful things. Over the next few days, strange cloud creatures burn villagers’ homes. The stranger claims he can eliminate the creatures for a price. Syl tries to capture the colors she witnesses in her weaving and persuade the stranger into forgoing his price because the island is poor. Ms. McKillip brings the story to a haunting conclusion through wonderful descriptions.

Fairy tales are points of inspiration for authors. “The Lion and the Lark” is a reworked vivid fairy tale. Lark is the youngest daughter of a family who can sing beautifully. She greets her father after he returns from a trip and discovers that she must go to a living stone lion in the forest. There she meets an enchanted man who only takes human form at night. The story follows Lark and Perrin through several adventures in a poignant, memorable story.

These are just a few of the maining thoughtful, entertaining stories in the book. Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip is an excellent collection of short stories that evokes vivid images and magic for readers. It is a good book for readers to experience this author’s talented and deeply magical creations.

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