Select one of the keywords
Cygnet    by Patricia A. McKillip order for
by Patricia A. McKillip
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Cygnet is a new omnibus, comprising two of Patricia A. McKillip's novels from the early 1990s: The Sorceress and the Cygnet and The Cygnet and the Firebird. While the two stories are connected they are also vastly different.

The Sorceress and the Cygnet tells the tale of Corleu, a blond-haired member of the Wayfolk who spins stories based on the constellations of Ro Holding. On a trip South one winter, he finds himself trapped by the constellations and forced to find something of immense value in order to free his love from the timeless world in which the other Wayfolk are currently being detained. Wandering through the swamp, he meets a sorceress who also happens to be the youngest daughter of the Holder, Nyx Ro. When Nyx's cousin Meguet learns of the sorceress's houseguest, she becomes suspicious, especially since the job of protecting the Holder has been passed down to her through blood. When Corleu finally rounds up all the constellations to find what he has been charged to find, Meguet learns who the stranger really is and is surprised by what she discovers.

The Cygnet and the Firebird takes place a few days after The Sorceress and the Cygnet ends. Nyx has finally moved out of the swamp and back into her mother's house for a council meeting when first a mysterious mage and then an ensorcelled firebird enter Ro Holding from another land. When the mage comes to claim a key and ends up kidnapping Meguet, Nyx becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the firebird. Soon Meguet and Nyx find themselves separated in Saphir, a land of deserts and dragons. In order to save their home country, they must free the firebird, find the dragon who sired the king of Saphir, and unravel the mystery of the firebird spell.

While the two stories have many of the same characters, only Meguet is a lead in both and Corleu is only mentioned in The Cygnet and the Firebird. While this is the most obvious difference, a close reading of the two shows that The Cygnet and the Firebird is better constructed, probably because McKillip's writing had grown between the original publications of the two works. The Sorceress and the Cygnet is rather choppy and the set up of Ro Holding not well described, making me really wish for a map. On the other hand, the action in The Cygnet and the Firebird is continuous and Saphir, the firebird, and the dragons are vividly brought to life. Having the two stories back to back in Cygnet points up these differences.

Other than seeing the difference between the two stories, it is nice that both are together in Cygnet, especially for readers who have not read either book. Having both in one volume makes the relationship between the stories more visible and easier to understand, something desirable when reading a fantasy duet.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews