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Ombria in Shadow (2002)

by Patricia A. McKillip

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0412515,137 (4.05)32
"Ombria. It is a city that echoes with the footfalls of sapphire-heeled shoes...that holds its breath as a straw-haired apparition glides through its streets...that sees its dreams - and nightmares - take shape in the drawings of a bastard-heir. It is an enchanted time and place envisioned by World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip, acclaimed author of The Tower at Stony Wood." "When Ombria's prince, Royce Greve, breathes his last in palace rooms high above the city, he leaves his young son at the mercy of his ancient great-aunt, Domina Pearl - a woman who has plotted her rise to power in Ombria for far too many years to allow a little boy to stand in her way. Already she has thrown Greve's pretty mistress out into the streets, where no one would expect her to live an hour. The boy will take her a little longer." "Meanwhile, in a dreamlike underworld peopled by Ombria's ghosts, a sorceress weaves her spells and brews her potions, never revealing her real face - or true heart. And somewhere in between, the struggle to rule the whole of Ombria - both its light and shadows - will rest in the hands of those whose fractured lives align like the pieces of a magical puzzle."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (more)
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» See also 32 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
A sort of dreamlike extended fairy tale. The main characters are a sorceress for hire and her 'waxling' assistant, a dead prince, his fragile young son, mistress and dreamy bastard cousin. And Domina Pearl, a scheming witch who plans to rule the kingdom. The relationships between those characters drive the book. The city-kingdom of Ombria was also a protagonist. But for me it had no grounding; the city was too generic. So it seemed the characters just slipped around each other in an extended dream with no real surprises, which ultimately was unsatisfying. ( )
  questbird | Feb 22, 2021 |
I would recommend this book to people who really enjoyed Peake's [b:Titus Groan|39063|Titus Groan (Gormenghast, #1)|Mervyn Peake|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1327871204l/39063._SY75_.jpg|3250394] or the whole line of the Gormenghast novels. Both are slow, gothic, and obsessed with language and timing.

There were some quite beautiful passages and overall, I did enjoy the story. It wasn't my favorite KIND of story, however, and I wasn't always as engaged in the tale of the magical usurper/regent and her charges as I probably should have been. It was a case of the details carrying the weight of the plot more than the characters.

I can definitely see why quite a few people fell in love with this, however. It brings Fantasy back to the old days where kingdoms were besieged from within. Where history is more of a villain (or something else) than anything.

I think it's pretty well designed to be a quiet, thoughtful read.

Me, however... I didn't really get into it as much as it probably deserves, having won the World Fantasy Award. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Elegant, stylised, both sparse and lush (filigree details delivered with a light touch). Heavy on the wonder and the magic, light on the mechanics, which gives it a beautiful fable-ish feel. ( )
  cupiscent | Aug 3, 2019 |
Artsyfartsy, dreamy-creamy, vague wafty irksome writing. Ursula LeGuin dissed her prose many years ago as commonplace and unmagical, and I fear the author took this slight to heart and is overcompensating. Never exciting, which is the worst sin ... I imagine the same events told by another hand and prefer that shadow novel to the actual. ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Sep 19, 2018 |
I have some doubts about the ending, which didn't really tie up some of the plot threads very well, but the prose was beautiful, the characters were engrossing, and the worldbuilding was incredible. I wanted to keep living in this world so badly that I kept trying to put the book down, savoring it, slowing down so it would last longer. But I was too engrossed, so I charged my way through it. It has one of my all-time favorite villains, Domina Pearl, who is like an old lady Darth Vader, and I cared more about Lydea in the first 6 pages of this book than I cared about some main characters after spending an entire book with them. ( )
  AmandaKespohl | Jul 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patricia A. McKillipprimary authorall editionscalculated
Craft, Kinuko YCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vilokkinen, NatashaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Fantasy Masterworks (New design)
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While the ruler of the ancient city of Ombria lay dying, his mistress, frozen out of the room by the black stare of Domina Pearl, drifted like a bird on a wave until she bumped through Kyel Greve's unguarded door to his bed, where he was playing with his puppets.
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"Ombria. It is a city that echoes with the footfalls of sapphire-heeled shoes...that holds its breath as a straw-haired apparition glides through its streets...that sees its dreams - and nightmares - take shape in the drawings of a bastard-heir. It is an enchanted time and place envisioned by World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip, acclaimed author of The Tower at Stony Wood." "When Ombria's prince, Royce Greve, breathes his last in palace rooms high above the city, he leaves his young son at the mercy of his ancient great-aunt, Domina Pearl - a woman who has plotted her rise to power in Ombria for far too many years to allow a little boy to stand in her way. Already she has thrown Greve's pretty mistress out into the streets, where no one would expect her to live an hour. The boy will take her a little longer." "Meanwhile, in a dreamlike underworld peopled by Ombria's ghosts, a sorceress weaves her spells and brews her potions, never revealing her real face - or true heart. And somewhere in between, the struggle to rule the whole of Ombria - both its light and shadows - will rest in the hands of those whose fractured lives align like the pieces of a magical puzzle."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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