01 April 2015

Harpist in the Wind by Patricia A McKillip

And here, at last, we come to the end of The Riddle-Master Trilogy, HARPIST IN THE WIND.

Morgon of Hed has been through the wringer, as has his love, Raederle, who searched the land for him only to have him show up at her front door and nearly kill Deth, the harpist who betrayed him to the false High One, Ghisteslwchlohm. At the last minute, Morgon was unable to do the deed, and Deth escaped.

Now, reunited with Raederle and possessed of the power, if not the will, to fight Ghisteslwchlohm as well as the invading shape changers, Morgon sets off, with Raederle at his side, to try to bring peace to the land.

As usual, there's lots of stuff happening, and lots of times you're not sure what exactly it is. I'm all for subtext, for characters saying one thing and meaning another, but only if you can make it clear what that other thing is.

So often in this book, as in the entire trilogy, I literally had no idea what people were talking about. It was like their conversations were proceeding perpendicular to their thoughts. It was incredibly frustrating.

As Morgon and Raederle set off for Lungold, we see how the land has turned toward war: many of the characters we've met before make returns, and others we've only heard about, like the Wizards, play a prominent role.

Once again, Morgon does his best to avoid the destiny that seems laid out for him. Fighting against one's destiny is a common and compelling narrative, if done properly, but at times this one wasn't. It felt like Morgon would rail against something and run away from it but never really take actions to carve his own path. He simply swam against the current and eventually got swept away.

That's not to say the philosophy presented, about the quality of mercy and the value of love and compassion, was not valuable. It was, and it's one that we always need to be reminded of. I can't say more about it without delving into spoiler territory, but based on the philosophy and the events of the first two books, I made a prediction before reading this book, and it was absolutely correct. I imagine other readers probably made the same prediction and were equally correct.

The climax of the book is not, as one would expect, a battle; though the inevitable battle comes, it does not house the truly important emotional changes. That comes before the battle, in a scene I had been waiting a long time for. I was mostly satisfied with it, though, as with so much else in the book, it left me wanting just a bit more: a bit more clarity, a bit more emotion, a bit more honesty.

Still, as with the trilogy as a whole, I didn't NOT like it.

Would I recommend THE RIDDLE-MASTER TRILOGY to anyone? Probably, if I knew their tastes would align with it. But am I going around telling everyone I know about it? No.