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Spindle's End (2000)

by Robin McKinley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Folktales (3), Damar

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,652792,765 (3.9)195
The infant princess Briar Rose is cursed on her name day by Pernicia, an evil fairy, and then whisked away by a young fairy to be raised in a remote part of a magical country, unaware of her real identity and hidden from Pernicia's vengeful powers.
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» See also 195 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
If possible, I love this book more as an adult than I did when I first read it as young teenager. ( )
  bookwyrmqueen | Oct 25, 2021 |
A retelling of Sleeping Beauty set in a land steeped in magic, where a young princess is raised in secret by two fairies in a far-off village, and no one, not even the girl herself, suspects her true identity. It’s a bit slow-paced, but it’s a lovely twist on the tale and the world-building is superb! ( )
  vvbooklady | May 12, 2021 |
The world-building here was amazing, as it seems to be in every McKinley novel I have read. In particular, I liked the idea of going into how the effects of a change in spindle design (as opposed to destroying all the spinning wheels in the kingdom) changed the artistry and economy throughout the kingdom, which made the whole thing seem more realistic:

“Everyone all over the country went home after hearing the heralds’ announcement, and at once knocked the pointed ends off their spindles and threw them on the fire, or bashed them with mallets and gave them to their local smiths who threw them on the hotter smithy fires; and then they looked sadly at the mutilated spindles. Weavers temporarily found their thread supplies short, while spinners adapted to shorter and thicker spindles. Later on spinners and tool makers began to develop new spindles and new ways to cast their thread on and off them; over time, in a mixture of anger and fear and resentment, and a fuzzy but sincere desire to show their support for the royal family, a new art form was born: spindle ends.

“At first these were only rough shapings of the beheaded ends, merely to make them look less wrong…Spindles and spindle ends became interesting in their own right; people argued as passionately over which woods made the best spindle ends as they did over which made the best bows and hafts.

“Over more time – and obstinacy – the new spindle ends became…the way things were: and the offhand whittling of them became both elaborate and beautiful…Spinners grew much more organised about finishing off, so that their spindle ends were free for display when not in active use; the broad blunt ends of wheel spindles, in particular, were intricately carved.

“Eventually, in later generations, a hand-carved spindle end was a favourite wedding gift…and especially fine examples of the spindle-carving art were highly prized heirlooms…In neighboring countries, people who saw the spindle ends…adapted their own spinning wheels so that they too could use their neighbors’ beautiful spindle ends, and spindle ends became one of this country’s most prized exports.” (Pages 77-78).

I also enjoyed the idea of the folklore surrounding smitheries, and the practical effects of it:

“There was another more intriguing bit of folklore that said that truth was truth in a smith’s yard…And there was a tradition of moving deadlocked legal struggles to a smith’s yard for the truth to be discovered that way; but this was not at all popular with the smith whose yard it was, since legal truths have a way of emerging with excruciating slowness.” (Page 113).

I also think Woodwold should be considered more of a character than a house, which would explain it using magic to protect the people inside of it as best it could, and also how Rosie could hear it. I know quite a few people here have complained that “magic A is not magic A” (TV Tropes warning if you go to look this up) and how that affected their willingness to suspend belief, but I saw the magic as more of a capricious character itself and so I didn’t have as big of an issue with it. That said, I’m not sure what to make of Pernicia’s castle; that whole part did seem out of character for the magic. Unless Pernicia’s magic was of a completely different sort than the general magic associated with the country, and this was a way of showing it.

I loved the whole world McKinley created, and how she gave enough detail for it to ring true. I also enjoyed the Damar Easter eggs that showed up later in the story: “She [Rosie] thought of her favourite stories…many of the tales of Damar against the North, especially of Harimad-sol at the Madamar gate, and the holding of the way at Ullen.” (Page 284).

I am a cat-lover, so I also appreciated this:

“Cats were often familiars to workers of magic because to anyone used to wrestling with self-willed, wayward, devious magic – which was what all magic was – it was rather soothing to have all the same qualities wrapped up in a small, furry, generally attractive bundle that looked more or less the same from day to day, and might, if it were in a good mood, sit on your knee and purr. Magic never sat on anybody’s knee and purred.” (Pages 106-107).

One other fun quote: “Rocks were pretty reliably rocks, except of course when they were something else that had been turned into rocks.” (Page 5). ( )
  Jennifer708 | Mar 21, 2020 |
The world-building here was amazing, as it seems to be in every McKinley novel I have read. In particular, I liked the idea of going into how the effects of a change in spindle design (as opposed to destroying all the spinning wheels in the kingdom) changed the artistry and economy throughout the kingdom, which made the whole thing seem more realistic:

“Everyone all over the country went home after hearing the heralds’ announcement, and at once knocked the pointed ends off their spindles and threw them on the fire, or bashed them with mallets and gave them to their local smiths who threw them on the hotter smithy fires; and then they looked sadly at the mutilated spindles. Weavers temporarily found their thread supplies short, while spinners adapted to shorter and thicker spindles. Later on spinners and tool makers began to develop new spindles and new ways to cast their thread on and off them; over time, in a mixture of anger and fear and resentment, and a fuzzy but sincere desire to show their support for the royal family, a new art form was born: spindle ends.

“At first these were only rough shapings of the beheaded ends, merely to make them look less wrong…Spindles and spindle ends became interesting in their own right; people argued as passionately over which woods made the best spindle ends as they did over which made the best bows and hafts.

“Over more time – and obstinacy – the new spindle ends became…the way things were: and the offhand whittling of them became both elaborate and beautiful…Spinners grew much more organised about finishing off, so that their spindle ends were free for display when not in active use; the broad blunt ends of wheel spindles, in particular, were intricately carved.

“Eventually, in later generations, a hand-carved spindle end was a favourite wedding gift…and especially fine examples of the spindle-carving art were highly prized heirlooms…In neighboring countries, people who saw the spindle ends…adapted their own spinning wheels so that they too could use their neighbors’ beautiful spindle ends, and spindle ends became one of this country’s most prized exports.” (Pages 77-78).

I also enjoyed the idea of the folklore surrounding smitheries, and the practical effects of it:

“There was another more intriguing bit of folklore that said that truth was truth in a smith’s yard…And there was a tradition of moving deadlocked legal struggles to a smith’s yard for the truth to be discovered that way; but this was not at all popular with the smith whose yard it was, since legal truths have a way of emerging with excruciating slowness.” (Page 113).

I also think Woodwold should be considered more of a character than a house, which would explain it using magic to protect the people inside of it as best it could, and also how Rosie could hear it. I know quite a few people here have complained that “magic A is not magic A” (TV Tropes warning if you go to look this up) and how that affected their willingness to suspend belief, but I saw the magic as more of a capricious character itself and so I didn’t have as big of an issue with it. That said, I’m not sure what to make of Pernicia’s castle; that whole part did seem out of character for the magic. Unless Pernicia’s magic was of a completely different sort than the general magic associated with the country, and this was a way of showing it.

I loved the whole world McKinley created, and how she gave enough detail for it to ring true. I also enjoyed the Damar Easter eggs that showed up later in the story: “She [Rosie] thought of her favourite stories…many of the tales of Damar against the North, especially of Harimad-sol at the Madamar gate, and the holding of the way at Ullen.” (Page 284).

I am a cat-lover, so I also appreciated this:

“Cats were often familiars to workers of magic because to anyone used to wrestling with self-willed, wayward, devious magic – which was what all magic was – it was rather soothing to have all the same qualities wrapped up in a small, furry, generally attractive bundle that looked more or less the same from day to day, and might, if it were in a good mood, sit on your knee and purr. Magic never sat on anybody’s knee and purred.” (Pages 106-107).

One other fun quote: “Rocks were pretty reliably rocks, except of course when they were something else that had been turned into rocks.” (Page 5). ( )
  Jennifer708 | Mar 21, 2020 |
Advance copy ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin McKinleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Craig, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daniel, StephanieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wood, NessCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
To the Lodge, my Woodwold and to the other Dickinsons who love it too.
First words
The magic in that country was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk-dust and over floors and shelves like slightly sticky plaster-dust.
Quotations
Small spider weave on a silver sleeve,
Oh, weave your grey web nearer.
From a golden crown let your silk hang down,
For lost, lost, lost is the wearer.
Magic can't do everything.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

The infant princess Briar Rose is cursed on her name day by Pernicia, an evil fairy, and then whisked away by a young fairy to be raised in a remote part of a magical country, unaware of her real identity and hidden from Pernicia's vengeful powers.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
The princess has been missing since she was a baby. And Rosie, an ordinary girl, is growing up in an unremarkable little village far away from the royal city.

Unremarkable, that is, in a land where magic is so common that it settles over everything like dust. But a fairy curse is the kind of magic that nobody wants, beacuse it always comes true. And Rosie cannot stay ordinary for ever...
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