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The Tower At Stony Wood (2001)

The Tower at Stony Wood (2001)
3.87 of 5 Votes: 2
0441008291 (ISBN13: 9780441008292)
penguin putnam berkley ace trade
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The Tower At Stony Wood (2001)
The Tower At Stony Wood (2001)

About book: Yes,I'm a McKillip fan--I've read almost everything she's ever written. Yes, I've read "The Lady of Shalott" by Tennyson long ago and am familiar with the Pre-Raphaelite paintings about it. Yes, I know Loreena McKinnitt's version. Yes, I like textiles--I sew, quilt, knit. Yes, I sometimes get so caught up in a project that I put dvd after dvd in the player and knit all bloody day. But for God's sake, I know better than to imagine that an extended plot where I freaking knit all day is going to be interesting! McKillip is unwilling to kill her Lady of Shalott, unlike Tennyson; she wants a happy ending. I get it: I always felt bad that she died. But at least that gives Tennyon's poem some conflict and some resolution. His poem is not actually about her weaving; it's about what happens when she STOPS. McKillip spends WAY too much time on the whole embroidery thing, and her approach to conflict and resolution in this work is an utter failure.It's not just that there are all these scenes of someone in a tower embroidering. It's that characters who are obsessed with embroidery to the exclusion of everything else are ONE-DIMENSIONAL AND BORING. Then there are all these scenes of some solitary guy riding a horse to a destination, as if recounting a journey so solitary, long, difficult and BORING it saps a character's mental and physical strength is going to make for compelling reading. What on earth was she thinking? There's so little conflict because the characters are so isolated, and when they do encounter each other, it feels artificial and forced. On top of which the plot is so convoluted and impenetrable as to be utterly unsatisfying.yes, McKillip writes great sentences. But great sentences cannot save such an ill-conceived, BORING failure. Reading it is like being stuck in some god-awful tower. At least there's a simple way out: just close the goddamn book and read something else.Gah.

As usual, McKillip's prose is complex, silky, elaborate, and fascinating. Her carefully embroidered and jeweled worlds are a masterpiece in minature. Also as usual, nothing is what it seems-- or that, either. The labyrinthine Escher plot loops around and around itself, circling through time and space in a Arthurian-style country where magic, selkies, embroidery, and baking twine around love, loyalty and honor. The book starts out straightforward enough, hearkening to Tennyson's Lady of Shallot... but the shifting towers of Skye and their bard weave together one man's desire to rescue a queen for his king's sake; another's desire to conquer a king for his land's sake; and a woman hiding magic trapped beneath the pall of widowhood. However, if you don't have the concentration or the patience to get lost in the threads of this elaborate art-- if Diana Wynne Jones' Hexwood baffled you and her Fire and Hemlock left you cold-- this book is not for you.
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I picked this one up because I remember reading her "Magical Beasts of Eld" a number of years ago and loving it. I liked this book too, but not as much as some others on this list. Without trying to write a spoiler, let me just say I found the dual identities and manipulations of the characters rather confusing by the end. Other than that, it was very beautifully written, and family-friendly. One thing I must say I liked about this book is that one of the characters (not the main one) who made a self-discovery about her magical self and turned out to be something of a heroine by the end was a middle-aged woman with grown children. With the fantasy genre being replete with teenage and twenty-something heroes and heroines, it is nice as a middle-aged woman myself to have a middle-aged heroine. I will probably seek out some other of McKillip's books to read. Recommended for young people.
This book is very dreamy and sometimes disconnected. At first I had trouble absorbing what was going on, telling the difference between the imagery and actual events. There is a sense that all the disparate elements are familiar enough that you ought to be able to predict what will happen, but events twist just enough to set you on your ear. Not to the extent of something like the three pigs tormenting the wolf - that would be subversive and by this point, expected - but these characters are completely archetypal but also believable individuals. It's a difficult balancing act.
A semi-surreal, poetic fantasy novel about Cyan Dag of Yves, a knight who goes on a quest to rescue his king's true bride from a faraway tower in the mystical land of Skye. Along the way, his destiny crosses with those of Thayne Ysse, the Lord of Ysse, a vassal state to Yves made up of islands in the north; and Sel, a woman of Skye with long-forgotten secrets.There were a couple of points at which this novel blended actual events with dreams and surreality too much for me to understand what was going on, but in the end McKillip's prose and plot twists made it a page-turning read.
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