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Return by Peter S. Beagle
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Return (2010)

by Peter S. Beagle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Innkeeper's World (2)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Return: An Innkeeper's World Story was my first Peter S. Beagle read, but it certainly won't be my last. I've just put his The Innkeeper's Song on my TBR list.

Return is a slim novella (only 104 pages) which tells the story of Soukyan's return to that place where he was raised and from which he's been running for years. He's ready to put an end to those who've been hunting him, but he'll have to face them, and the strange power behind them, before he can be free.

Peter S. Beagle writes lively clear prose that's passionate, beautiful, smart, and occasionally dryly humorous. His plot is purposeful and tight with a hint of mystery and horror. Beagle's characters are intelligent and full of life — even those who are referred to but not seen (I can't wait to meet Lal in The Innkeeper's Song).

Return: An Innkeeper's World Story is exactly my kind of story except that it’s much too short. I am eager to read more in this world, and more Peter Beagle in general!

By the way, this is the third novella that I've received from Subterranean Press this year that has introduced me to a new (for me) author who I'm now expecting to become one of my favorite writers. Sub Press is putting out wonderfully unique titles that are especially appealing to those of us who love excellent fantasy literature. This is not mass market printing, so it's not sold at mass market prices, but Sub Press publishes unique high-quality literary works which often include gorgeous cover and interior art. It's even a joy to get their newsletter in my email inbox because it usually features at least one lovely painting. You can sign up for the newsletter and take a look at their catalog at the Subterranean Press website. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
It's helpful to have your favorite book by an author be their favorite book as well. Sometimes it can lead to them playing around with it more, and that's the case here. My favorite book actually is Beagle's The Innkeeper's Song, and he's returned to set a number of shorter stories in the world since then, including a collection in Giant Bones, with this latest novella being a fairly notable installment. This is a rarer effort from him in this regard, a tale dealing with one of the main characters of The Innkeeper's Song itself, returning back to the monastery of secrets where they spent their formative years.

Really, the setup works quite well - our hero (alas, using the name constitutes a real spoiler for the original book) dispatches the latest bunch of assassins sent from the place, but there's something amiss about them and their behavior, and to work out the consequences, our protagonist returns in disguise to his old home and refuge. The welcome there is complex, the ultimate reason the monastery wanted him to return surprising and fairly monstrous, and the nature of the place and its residents revealed to be... well, not exactly a revelation, but not exactly what I'd expected, either.

It's always a pleasure to return to the Innkeeper's World, and Beagle gets the cadence of the lead character down right. The writing is typically brilliant, as you'd expect from Beagle, and the whole story was worth the time. The only thing is that it's really quite slight, even for a novella; I do feel like to get everything I'd have wanted for the feel of the place, it should have been a bit longer, but it was a good story as it was.

All told, if you like Beagle and you read the other books in this setting, then you'll definitely want to read this one, as it fills in much of this character's past. But definitely read the other stuff first - this isn't the story to start with in this setting, and it'll spoil a ton of things if you read this and then go into the others. And you don't want to be spoiled for the original too much. Beagle does twist some good tales, and this world is still my favorite. ( )
  Capfox | Jan 8, 2013 |
The tale of a man, hunted endlessly by assassins, who returns to the powerful monastery of his youth to try to put an end to things.

Slight. ( )
  readinggeek451 | Jan 26, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter S. Beagleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Manzieri, MaurizioCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Beagle's novella, set in the world of 1991's The Innkeeper's Song, is an intimate take on the relatively common fantasy conceit of a powerful band of recluses. Following an encounter with three assassins, the wanderer Soukyan decides it is time to return to the monastery from which he had long ago escaped and take revenge on those who sent the killers. Beagle hints that Soukyan's world stretches far and wide but mostly focuses on a small area where various organizations have institutionalized murder and torture. Thoughtful, well-rounded characters make an intriguing contrast to scenes of bloody brutality. Readers familiar with The Innkeeper's Song will love this tie-in, while newcomers will both enjoy the tight focus and find plenty of incentive to seek out related works that further explore this complex, fully realized setting. --Publisher's Weekly… (more)

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