McKillip's "Forgotten Beasts of Eld" is certainly a fantasy classic; it seems as fresh at age 50 as when it was published. The story is set in a sort of mythic reality, where the boundaries are all a little hazy and time itself is fuzzy. There is less a sense of cause and effect, as events seem determined as much by fate as by human decision. And, while it's less remarkable now, 50 years ago it was no small thing to overturn the standard gender tropes on which fantasy rests. The story is driven by the female protagonist's power, desires, and passions, leaving the male characters as satellites orbiting her sun, as she learns how to balance her power between her loves and her hates.
It's also a pleasure to find a great fantasy story that can be satisfyingly told without 10+ volumes. I definitely recommend the book.
A fantasy romance that will delight modern readers with its depth of characters and nostalgic tropes. Women's sovereignty is key to understanding the plight of our main character Sybil, who is asked to choose between a widowed king and a youngest prince of feuding kingdoms. When she denies both of them, they make the choice for her,
Astounding writing, poetic and magical. I could not put this book down.
I surely want to read more books by this author!
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I went into this not knowing much about the story (just really loved the title and premise, haha) and I'm so glad I picked this up.
The WRITING is my favorite kind of lyrical prose that borders on poetry – I want to get a physical version to reread and annotate and absorb.
This is a beautiful, unexpectedly poignant story set in a fantasy setting that absolutely grips you with human truths. The themes really were a tug of war on "good for her/female rage" and "even here there is room for healing and love" which – oof. Sybil's initial desire to live in isolation with her beasts and become a powerful sorceress? Relatable.
"How did you hate? Did you nurse revenge from a tiny, moon-pale seedling in the night places in your heart, watch it grow and flower and bear dark fruit that hung ripe—ripe for the plucking? It becomes a great, twisted thing of dark leaves and thick, winding vines that chokes and withers whatever good things grow in your heart; it feeds on all the hatred your heart can bear—That is what is in me, Coren. Not all the wondrous joy and love of you can wither that night plant in me."
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is for you if you love fantasy, fairy tales, and complex/emotional stories.
Content warnings around sexual violence.
Arc received by the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Wow this is without doubt a story that stands the test of time. Im in awe of the authors writing skill and this book was in so many ways ahead of its time because when I consider the recent rise in popularity for “romantasy “ then this fits right in ! Yes it’s a fantasy setting with a hard won romance and whilst not typical enemies or even friends to lovers it has all the elements that keep the reader eagerly turning the pages and hoping for a happy ending.
This latest edition contains glowing forwards by authors who are today leaders in their field and their comments are undeniably justified. The writing has prose that made me stop and think, there are moments that resonate almost as if the author realised humans make mistakes but there’s always possibilities down the line to do better. The characters are not perfect and nor should they be. It’s a story that leaves me with a sense of hope. So why a four and not a five ? For this reader if I never want it to end and cling to every page jealously that tells me how immersed I am but here I wanted to know how it all played out and I got the happy ending my old romantic heart wanted and I thoroughly recommend this book .
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
To celebrate its 50th anniversary of The Forgotten Beasts of Elm the publisher (Tachyon Publications) are releasing a special edition of the book with many beautiful illustrations by Stephanie Law.
I haven't read anything by Patricia A. McKillip before and this book intrigued so much that I will definitely read more of her works.
This book was really magical and with very beautiful and powerful writing. It feels like you are reading a fairytale but a modern one. There is no much world building but that does not matter. We have magical talking animals and powerful wizards.
It is an atmospheric and character-driven story, a story of love, revenge and forgiveness.
My thanks for the ARC goes to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications. I'm voluntarily leaving a review.
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Traditional Fantasy
I cannot believe it's been 50 years since THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD was originally published! This is such a blast from the past for me. I love Patricia A. McKillip's work. It was a staple in my house growing up.
If you haven't read this, you're in for a treat. This novel has layers! There's the surface story, but it's also somewhat allegorical to look inward and see what you find. Themes include justice, regency, love, forgiveness, and mercy. This is what I think of as classic fantasy.
Things I love:
- Strong female protagonist
- Moral dilemmas
- Side romance
- EVERY page has something interesting!
If you're a fantasy reader, you're going to love delving into this world.
Some violence to women
I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A McKillip is a classic fantasy novel where Sybel, a young wizard, is given Tam, her nephew and a young prince, to raise. When Tam is twelve and taken in by his father, several men fight over Sybel’s affections and to control her.
This was my first time reading Forgotten Beasts of Eld and I wasn’t expecting how dialogue-heavy it would be, but McKillip is a master at keeping it crystal clear who is speaking. Each sentence is intentionally crafted so the information within carries who is saying what without dialogue tags. It’s very easy to picture how to dramatize a reading of this, which is great for parents of young readers looking for a more recent fairy tale to read aloud.
Sybel’s arc was a new favorite of mine. She keeps her feelings close to the chest, can hear the beasts of the Eldwold through telepathy, and she loves her nephew as if he was her own son despite all the trouble his father creates for Sybel. Sybel clearly stating that her freedom mattered to her was impactful, feeling like a blueprint for a lot of the young women protagonists we see in the current age of fantasy.
I would recommend this to readers interested in classic fantasy, readers looking for books with fantasy kingdoms and beasts, and fans of female-led fantasy.
I can't believe I waited so long to read this amazingly, magical book! This book was full of everything I love about fantasy and it's all in ONE book. No need for a trilogy or more. It's so touching and it will definitely be bought as a hardback so I have a copy for my main library, as well as the digital copy. I don't want to say anything to spoil the story because it is so perfect. If you've never read this before, and like fantasy, read it! You won't regret it!
Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this! These thoughts and opinions are my own.
This is, as reviewers say, beautiful. It’s almost like a fairy tale, and I’m really surprised that I hadn’t come across this book as a child.
It’s just beautiful, beautifully written, and a book I will come back to time and time again for comfort.
If you’ve not read it then I recommend- an absolute treat.
My thanks to Netgalley and Tachyon Publications for the special edition copy
A wonderful tale of mysterious, magical beasts and finding yourself. I don't know how I never read this when I was younger.
What a lovely story. At first, I was unsure with the start, but then it really got going with the story of Sybel and Tam and Coren. Getting to know the beasts, as well, was amazing.
I am a long-time fan of Patricia McKillop, and thus excited to see that there was a 50th Anniversary Special Edition of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. The special edition 'perks' are the new introduction and illustrations. Thanks to Tachyon and Negalley for the ARC.
With this re-read, I was specifically focusing on what had likely changed in those 50 years - what our society cares about, the increase of female presenting readers and fantasy heroes. It seems so was the author of the new introduction, Marjorie Liu! I appreciated how she centered the reader in both the timelessness of the text, and how it fit within our current context - it was an insightful grounding. My reflections, echoing Liu's lens:
In many fantasy books written for the male gaze, female characters are intended to be secondary. Their consent and agency is a non-issue, instead, heteronormative possessions assumed to feel gratitude for the status conferred by their partner.
Sybel's antithesis to this trope, particularly in spite of her ancestors, is resounding. This book is as much a fairy tale as it is a fable. The themes, the layers...not only does this book stand the test of time, it stands the strength of a re-read, a mirror to who you are and who you've become in how your interpretations of the text change. Of the many questions posed, the one that resonated for me in this reading is what is freedom vs. what is entrapment.
As an addendum, I thought the new illustrations nice - not necessarily adding significantly to the story, but definitely not detracting. The one mis-alignment is that Sybel's hair texture & shorter length as depicted on the traditional cover is different from the much longer drawn hair in the new illustrations.
This book was surprisingly excellent! The writing was beautiful and the dialogue was great. The world and magic was enchanting. LOVED all the magical creatures. Honestly it's length works against it, in my opinion, because expanding out some of the conflicts would have been great. But I think she was very intentional with how long she made it.
My only issue is how much the second half focused on romance. It was still well done but for how short the book is, I would have liked a little more focus on the mother/son dynamic.
Still an excellent book that holds up very well.
What a beautiful world Patricia McKilliip has created with the main character and her magical animals. The only complaint I have about this book is that I wish it were longer and her relationship with a child that was brought to her for protection was embellished on more to show the bonding with the main characters but also with the creatures.
Overall it’s one I enjoyed and recommend.
I am heartened to see Tachyon releasing a special edition hardcover of this incredible classic by McKillip, especially in light of her passing. What a beautiful edition and lovingly written new introduction. This is one of my favorite books by an author whose work is very dear to me; her writing is like a dream, and her books have been a beloved source of comfort and inspiration to me. I am shocked at how little-known she is, and thankful to Tachyon and NetGalley for this ARC, and even more so to the publisher for continuing to promote her work so that new readers can discover her. There is no one like McKillip!
I had read this book as a child and it is a story that has stuck with me. I loved that it has stood the test of time. This is a book that I would love to keep and share with my kids. The illustrations and Fantastic and I absolutely adored them.
I just reviewed The Forgotten Beasts of Eld: 50th Anniversary Special Edition by Particia A. McKillip, Introduction by Marjorie Liu, Foreword by Gail Carriger, Illustrations by Stephanie Law, Cover Art by Thomas Canty. #TheForgottenBeastsofEld50thAnniversarySpecialEdition #NetGalley
This book is amazing. I hope the republished edition helps this book to reach new audiences, like me. What a treasure. The illustrations are beautiful too.
It was a beautiful book. LOVE the writing style and the fairytale feels. I adore everything about it.
If you've never read Patricia McKillip before, this is the perfect book to start with. It's full of the lyrical language and thematic depth of all her books, but it has a much more straightforward storyline!
This book, especially this beautiful new edition, was an absolute delight. The story of love, loss, revenge and forgiveness is universal and hasn't dated at all in the fifty years since this was written.
I have never really ventured into fantasy from the 1970s, but this one really struck me as interesting, so I decided to give it a go. I'm so glad I did! I loved the writing, and the story was like nothing I've ever read.