McKillip (Was: Re: DWJ's answers: Harry Potter)

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Mon Sep 3 13:58:59 EDT 2001

>Gross Family wrote:
>>  Hallie wrote:
>>  > _Winter Rose_ could be interesting for comparison as you've just read
>>  > _Tam Lin_, since it's another (looser) variation on Tam Lin.  Becca
>>  > and I both really liked WR, and _The Book of Atrix Wolfe_ (cool
>>  > backwards writing), but our favourite of these recent ones was _Song
>>  > for the Basilisk_.  Like Melissa, but I gather, unlike many McKillip
>>  > fans.  I think quite a few die-hards found it a bit unengaging (Ros,
>>  > you can correct me if I'm misremembering this from the list), but we
>>  > just loved it.  It's marginally less elusive than WR and BoAW, and is
>>  > just wonderful about music.  Really wonderful.
>>  I can't remember if I've ever said anything about _Song for the basilisk_ or
>>  not! Anyway, I really loved it. I enjoyed her other recent ones too, _Winter
>>  Rose_ and _The Song of atrix Wolfe_, but _Song for the Basilisk_ "grabbed"
>>  me more. If felt more emotionallly powerful than the others to me, though
>  > _Winter Rose_comes a close second.

Oh, I meant comments about SftB on the McKillip list, not here.

>I'd be interested in knowing what made _Song for the Basilisk_
>"grab" either of you more.  I couldn't get very excited about it,
>even upon rereading, despite my love for both McKillip and
>musical themes.  (_Fool's Run_ is on my list of Favorite Books of
>All Time, probably due in part to my addiction to Bach, like the
>Magician.)  In _Song for the Basilisk_, for example, I had a
>problem with the ending; the tyrant's daughter never turned into
>a real character for me, and thus never lost the feel of deus ex
>machina.  I think I preferred _The Book of Atrix Wolfe_ out of
>the more recent McKillips; I liked the backwards writing and the
>forest, but the kitchen scenes really made the book for me - Saro
>learning about all the different kinds of language in the world.
>Sorry if these have already been discussed.

Don't think they have, but I wouldn't see a need for you to apologise 
even if they had.  It's fun to see the spark a new viewpoint can 
bring to discussions we have had before.  Ok, I'm procrastinating. 
It seems much harder to say why this book grabbed me (given that we 
share most reactions to McKillip books!) than it would be to say why 
one hadn't.

Let's see - I really liked the characters, though I know not everyone 
does.  I liked Giulia especially, I think, how do I put this - she 
seemed very "flesh and blood" real to me.  Which is not to say that I 
don't like McKillip's more ethereal characters!  (Doing well so far 
here - NOT).  I liked the two main settings, and liked the contrast 
between them.  The school was very cool - and I loved the story of 
how it was built, but I also enjoyed the city, especially the 
taverns.  I also liked Luna, and I loved Hexel, and the humour around 
him and his need for his muse.  Also the music lessons - Damiet's 
costumes - so funny!

And generally, I'm fascinated by stories of people dealing with past 
problems - by denial, revenge, eventual resolution - as long as it's 
not a cut and dried get revenge and everything's immediately 
hunky-dory.  (Hehe - mental flash to Inigo in The Princess Bride and 
his "I've been in the revenge business for so long..." line.)

So everything melded beautifully for me in this book.  It's also a 
book I would consider good as an introduction or semi-introduction to 
McKillip - which is why I've threatened Dorian with it, *assuming* 
she likes _Changeling Sea_.  :)
Oh well, must do spoilers to finish this off:













Ok, I'm a softie, and I'm particularly happy about the fact that Luna 
turns out good, and her actions can be interpreted completely 
differently by the end.  The ending is beautifully hopeful without 
being all sewn-up, for me.


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