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Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip

Alphabet of Thorn (original 2004; edition 2004)

by Patricia A. McKillip

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987348,696 (4.18)1 / 86
Title:Alphabet of Thorn
Authors:Patricia A. McKillip
Info:Ace Hardcover (2004), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Annotated
Tags:Fairy Tale, Bibliophile, Literary, Magic, Time Travel, Coming of Age, Adventure

Work details

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

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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
the translator Nepenthe is learning new languages. the language of fish, all gills and bubbles and tiny scales, a silver presence glimpsed in the water, and then gone. compare the language of thorns, all sharp and angular, ensnaring. new words that never existed before dangle at the end of her pen as she works, recreating in more familiar words a story that threatens the Kingdom of Raine. the Queen of Raine is vague and almost formless; she drifts through her kingdom like a wraith, making no imprint on it. the Library has not seen the book to know the threat. the school of magic floats in the wood, and the birds sing only for the Queen. the Dreamer comes to warn the enchanted kingdom. time shifts, space folds, the briars close tighter on the kingdom in translation. new words are born, shaped by the translator, released onto the page as an enchantment. new maps are made, as the shape of the world changes as a consequence. the cover artist wraps the book, dreaming of Remedios Varo. the writer is the true magician; as always, everything she writes is an enchantment. ( )
1 vote macha | Mar 29, 2017 |
Now that I’m used to her style, I can really appreciate the finesse with which she uses words. Time and love twist and turn in this tale. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
I picked up this book because it was recommended to me based on other books I have read and liked. I enjoyed the concept - a book is found that only one scribe is capable of reading. She hides that she knows how to read it because of how the book makes her feel, how the letters speak to her. The story as a whole, and the individual characters, could have absolutely been more developed and deeper. I didn't really understand the love relationship that happened, it just seemed more forced than anything. ( )
  alb2219 | Sep 5, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (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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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.
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:04 -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)

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