cover image The Sorceress and the Cygnet

The Sorceress and the Cygnet

Patricia A. McKillip. Ace Books, $17.95 (231pp) ISBN 978-0-441-77564-4

More than 1000 years ago the Gold King, Dancer, Blind Lady and Warlock fought the Cygnet, lost and were banished. Commoners put their story in the constellations to remember it. Ro Holding has the sign of the Cygnet and rules the other Holds, which have the other signs. But now the Gold King, seeing a way to reestablish the alliance, sets up an elaborate plot to trick Nyx Ro, daughter of the ruling family and a powerful Sorceress, and Corleu, a peasant of the Wayfolk, into releasing the vanquished and helping them find the Heart of the Cygnet. The rest of the Ro family try to intervene, but the Gold King always seems to stay one step ahead. With strong, archetypal characters and a powerful command of symbolism, McKillip ( The Forgotten Beasts of Eld ) depicts the human conflict between the desire for power and the need for love. Inspired imagery and a perfectly paced plot mark this fantasy as one of the year's best. (May)