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Alphabet Of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip
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Alphabet Of Thorn (original 2004; edition 2008)

by Patricia A. McKillip

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
903329,768 (4.19)1 / 79
Member:pajarita
Title:Alphabet Of Thorn
Authors:Patricia A. McKillip
Info:Ace Trade (2005), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:read but unowned

Work details

Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip (Author) (2004)

  1. 40
    Lirael by Garth Nix (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the labyrinthine libraries.
  2. 30
    Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For code breaking an unknown language; for libraries of secrets.
  3. 10
    The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia A. McKillip (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Both of these McKillip novels deal with changelings and the power of words, and so make for fascinating comparison.
  4. 00
    The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Kerian)
  5. 01
    The Book of Flying by Keith Miller (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For questing librarians.
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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
A creative story and well-told, but not exceedingly memorable. I would read more by Patricia A. McKillip. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Firstly, I think I've mentioned this before, but oh I love the cover art so much. It's done by Kinuko Craft, who has also illustrated at least some of Juliet Marillier's covers, so that explains why it seemed familiar.

Alphabet of Thorn is beautifully written. It's one of those books where it's less about making things happen, and more about watching them happen -- there is some degree of "stopping things happening", but mostly people fall in love, and do magic, and learn things about themselves, and work in the slow silent world of manuscripts and translation, and... It's not really about the plot, I think, but more about the characters and the world; less about things happening than about people in a situation. I don't know if I can describe it -- but all the same, I hope it's clear that I loved it.

The mythical parts of the story, the floating school of magic, all of it felt -- not real, but true, to me. It all worked seamlessly as a world, as a story. It also felt in some ways like something Ursula Le Guin could write (which is a very high compliment in my world): the Floating School is a cousin to the school on Roke.

If you're not a fan of McKillip's style and plotting, I don't think this one could change your mind. But I do think it's gorgeous. ( )
2 vote shanaqui | Dec 12, 2013 |
Oh, what a beautiful book! As beautiful as its cover and very imaginative with lots of evocative language and great characterization. Feminist-friendly too as it features a variety of interesting female characters. I loved how the magic is still experimental yet not something they're constantly afraid of. It's a great book, partly set in their present and partly in their past which keeps you on your toes. I didn't except the final revelation even though it's hinted at throughout the novel. I loved all the details about the library and how as a people they value books so much. I'd never read a book by this author but this won't be the last. Last, but not least, I fell in love with the name of the heroine, Nepenthe, and added it to my secret list of names I love. ( )
  RubyScarlett | Nov 11, 2013 |
This is another winner from McKillip, and one of my favorites. She blends elements from prior works such as warring across time and the wild magic of woods and sea, then mixes in a group of quirky, unique, strong characters, both female and male. Role reversals dominate: kings who turn out to be queens, sorcerers who are sorceresses. As always, she leaves the reader thinking about what she didn’t write, or perhaps what she implied between the lines. A must read! ( )
  jennorthcoast | Sep 21, 2013 |
The prose was a little hard to get through at first, but I eventually found this a very absorbing story. I found myself wanting to know more about this richly imagined world, so it was a little letdown to find the ending came so quickly (and that there aren't any sequels). ( )
  bostonian71 | Apr 22, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McKillip, Patricia A.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Craft, Kinuko Y.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murello, JudithCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
On Dreamer's Plain, the gathering of delegations from the Twelve Crowns of Raine for the coronation of the Queen of Raine looked like an invading army.
Quotations
Epics are never written about libraries. They exist on whim; It depends if the conquering army likes to read.
"We don't choose our passions."
"History moves in great, messy shifts of power, in choices made as though by too many people building a house, where one misplaced stone in the foundation slips under the weight of another stone near the roof. . . ."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441012434, Paperback)

Patricia A. McKillip is one of America's greatest fantasy authors. Her best known novels include Riddle-Master; World Fantasy Award winner The Forgotten Beasts of Eld; World Fantasy Award and Mythopoeic Award winner Ombria in Shadow; and In the Forests of Serre. Like its predecessors, Alphabet of Thorn demonstrates McKillip's mastery of prose and her knowledge of the human heart.

As an infant, Nepenthe was abandoned by her mother on the edge of a cliff so high no one can hear the sea below. Nepenthe was raised by the librarians of the Royal Library of Raine, and knows little of the outside world beyond what she reads. She has a gift for translation, and she alone has a chance of translating a newly arrived book, a mysterious tome written in an alien alphabet that resembles thorns. But Nepenthe has fallen in love with the high-born student-mage who brings her the book. And the thorns are exerting a strange power over her--a magic that may destroy not only Nepenthe, but the kingdom of Raine and the entire world. --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Nepenthe, an orphan who has been raised by the librarians of the Royal Library of Raine, becomes obsessed with deciphering a supposedly untranslatable book brought to the palace by a young mage, not realizing that the words and her fate are entwined with that of the newly crowned, fourteen-year-old queen.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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