This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Sybel is the grand-daughter or great grand-daughter of a nameless mage. She has inherited the power to control things by naming them. She has no bigger ambition than to call the Lyralen.
Until one day a knight drops off a baby boy in her lap and rides away. As the boy grows, Sybel’s heart grows and she comes to love Tamlorn as her own. But Tamlorn is the son of a king and the king, one Drede, comes looking for him. Tamlorn was given to Sybel by Drede’s enemies, the house of Sirle. Once Tam realizes he has a father, he goes to live with him and Sybel tells Drede that she has no interest in the war between him and Sirle.
Then the knight comes back, one Coren. He wins Sybel’s heart and manages to give up his hate of Drede and all that he has done. Drede, afraid of Sybel’s power and not believing she won’t use it against him, buys the service of another wizard who will take Sybel’s name, break her will and make her a willing, loving puppet for Drede to marry. Sybel escapes and tells Coren’s brothers that she will use her power for them against Drede, wthout telling Coren what happened to her or why she is suddenly fighting against Drede.
In a fit of remorse, Sybel frees all her magical animals who were to lead the attack against Drede and she flees back to her home in the mountains, convinced that Coren can no longer love her and that Tam can no longer love her since she orchestrated the attack on his father Drede.
It ends with things not turning out at all like Sybel imagined, as her animals do their thing and Tamlorn becomes king without bloodshed. She and Corin are re-united and he teaches her the lesson of love.
This was the first McKillip book that I would say had a real edge to it, some bite. It takes some uncomfortable subject matters and deals with them specifically but non-graphically.
Sybel’s forebearers all took their mates by force. They used the power of naming to call and control them. Sybel gets a taste of this very thing when the wizard takes control of her. It wasn’t just attempted, or in the case of her ancestors, actual, rape, but also the complete loss of self within the mind. It was the rape of body AND mind and McKillip doesn’t shy away from showing how it affects people.
She then goes on to show how Sybel reacts in some really bad ways, such as erasing her husband Corin’s memories of what he sees when he catches her plotting with his brothers for war. She violates him just like she was violated and it destroys her inside. So much that she tries to lose herself at the end of the book by calling the Lyralen.
And yet, at the very end when Corin AND Tam come to her and show her the power of real love, it redeems it all. I think that was what this book was all about. Just how strong love is and just what it can conquer.
I love a Love Conquers All story and this was that in spades.
When I read this back in ’07, looking at my rating and review, I can tell I wasn’t really impressed back then. But a decade more of life experience, being married and some down and dirty church politics has shown me that yes, Love is the be all and end all. Being a Christian helps narrow down what Love actually is and I’m even more convinced today than I was 10 years ago of just how much God loves His creation.
I’ll end this like I began it. This has an edge and a bite that most of McKillip’s other books don’t. If it bothers you, try some of her others. If you like it, don’t expect it to be there.