When Arioso Pellior of the House of the Basilisk decides to seize complete control of the city of Berylon, he determines to kill by fire all members of the House of Raven Tormalyne, his most powerful rival. He does not succeed completely. Griffin Tormalyne, Raven's young heir, survives by crawling into the ash of a marble fireplace, where he is later found by scions of the House and spirited away to Luly, the remote rock island of the bards. Griffin blocks all memory of his past although his nightmares are filled with fire. The child Griffin is given a new name, Rook Caladrius. Rook knows he has a past he can not remember, hidden within the music he learns to play fluently. But it is not until his son Hollis is grown that he realizes the need to confront his past. He travels into the magic area known as the Hinterlands where his past is revealed. Then he sets out for Berylon to avenge the atrocities committed by Pellior, only to find that he has to defeat not only the Basilisk but also Luna, his powerful and beautiful daughter.
Patricia McKillip, winner of the World Fantasy Award, writes with a beautiful, elegant style perfectly suited to this novel of magic and music. The relationships between the characters are powerfully portrayed. The plot hinges on a delicate mystery that will keep the reader in suspense. Other great fantasy-genre titles by Patricia McKillip include The Book of Atrix Wolfe, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and Winter Rose.
Reviewed by mh, 5/00. Other reviews by mh.