The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. Book Review

eldTHE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD by Patricia A. McKillip
Gollancz p/b. 208pp, £9.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

On the Eld Mountain lives a wizard woman who dwells with a menagerie of the most magical and strange beasts. There is power in a name and she has learnt the names of all those who she called to her. Now they are hers, from great dragon to falcon to boar. All have their own tales, and Sybel learned them all.

Yet Sybel craves one more beast for her collection – the elusive Liralen. No matter how she calls it, the Liralen does not come to her, leaving one thing unaccomplished in an otherwise full life.

Coren of Sirle braves the beasts and brings a baby to Sybel, telling her that as the baby is family, it is her responsibility to keep it safe. She who has called and cared for beasts of all scales does not know how to care for a baby. But Sybel was warned once, and her beloved Falcon reminds her that it may be wise to heed that warning. For now, she does, and welcomes the baby Tamlorn into her home.

Winner at the very first World Fantasy Awards, McKillip’s languid, beautiful adventure remains an old favourite, the story of Sybel, the kingdom’s heir and the fantastical beasts weaving a peaceful magic around the reader as the tale is told. It is a classic fantasy exploring captivity and war and depicting traditional genre tropes in a guise that can be enjoyed by all and still holds its own these years later.

This release contains a heart-warming introduction by Pat Cadigan who tells the reader a little about the author and a little more about the wonderful adventure that is The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. Fans of traditional high fantasy, Ursula Le Guin and description-driven stories will enjoy this.