by Patricia A. McKillip
A very powerful mage, Atrix Wolfe, finds himself in the middle of a battle that may cost his own kingdom dearly. In the moment and in a bit of a panic, Atrix conjures a terrible entity that causes immediate bloodshed and haunts him as well as individuals in 3 different, consecutive worlds for the next 20 years.
The unlikely hero is a a boy prince who is sent off to a foreign kingdom to learn sorcery to help protect his own kingdom. Talis discovers a book written by Atrix Wolfe, the great mage that hasn't been seen in over 20 years. In trying out some of the magic in the book, Talis unwittingly draws Atrix out of hiding, but it also awakens the powerful and dreadful monster Atrix created. Together Talis and Atrix must destroy the evil.
A parallel and connected storyline involves a Wood Queen whom Talis has fallen in love with and a young girl who is the pot scrubber in Tallis' castle's kitchen.
I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy and thought it was beautifully written, almost poetic and very descriptive and imaginative. I often had to go back and reread, but in so doing, the pictures formed in my mind were movie quality. I look forward to reading more by this award-winning author.
"Atrix shook his head, wordless again. "There seemed no words," he said finally, "for what I had done. Words were too small..." When trying to ask forgiveness, or give unmeasured thanks, or express deep love words can be too small.
I loved all of Chapter Seven when Saro, the kitchen pot-scrubber, was trying to learn words. She could hear but didn't speak and she needed to find the words to warn Talis. She listened to those working around her, she listened to the sounds of the fire and the wood being burned. "But nothing she ever heard resembled the vision she had seen in the pot. Nor did the human language, scattered constantly throughout the kitchen, suggest the death of the prince."