Harrowing the Dragon
Ace, 2005 (2005)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
ragons, a troll, a unicorn, witches - they're all here, along with magical realms and a variety of heroes and heroines in fifteen short stories from one of the best fantasy writers ever. As always, Patricia McKillip's style is not explicit - she hints at possibilities, and makes the reader work to fully appreciate her offerings.
The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath
, the author brings together two very different people - a man, the
, whose goal is destruction and change, and a young woman, Peka, who loves '
Peace and quiet and private places
'. A talented musician is caught in the middle, between two countries (one in denial and the other vengeful over shared history) in
A Matter of Music
. I liked
Lady of the Skulls
very much - amongst the usual brainless warriors on quest after treasure is one who thinks and feels and sees.
nother delightful quest is that of
The Fellowship of the Dragon
, seeking a queen's missing harper in perilous lands - the questors drop off one by one, as each finds her heart's desire. Syl, a talented artist, asks a great deal of
(one of the best stories here) to protect her community. In
, Cerise refuses Aubrey's offer, saying '
I don't want a silent shining path of gold. I need the imperfect world broken up into words.
' Several of these shorts are light and playful -
A Troll and Two Roses
is great fun, as is
Baba Yaga and the Sorceror's Son
ome are particularly atmospheric, such as the powerful
Ash, Wood, Fire
, while others, like
re-telling) verge on horror. McKillip also offers re-tellings of
Romeo and Juliet
Beauty and the Beast
(her wonderfully romantic
Lion and the Lark
); and the elegant
. And she strays into urban fantasy, showing the mostly elderly
Witches of Junket
fight an eight century old evil - '
The thing inside Oyster Rock is coming out.
atricia McKillip's work has been on my
list since my first exposure to her
Riddle Master of Hed
. She shows her range in her
Harrowing the Dragon
collection, which offers quite a variety, with something for every fantasy taste.
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