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The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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Review: "The Bards of Bone Plain" by Patricia McKillip
I've been reading Patricia A. McKillip since her very first novel came out, and I think she is one of the most creative imaginers and certainly one of the most sophisticated writers of fantasy of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. From that vantage I think The Bards of Bone Plain is the best she's done in many years.

Not, of course, that any of her books are less than elegant and wonderful. Not so. But The Bards of Bone Plain is incredibly tightly written, and its fusion with a lightly glossed steampunk quasi-Victorian kingdom and the centuries-long quest of an immortal bard for his lost music just plain works seamlessly. You believe that you can simply step sideways from the mundane to the magical and back, easily and painlessly.

Her characters are well-drawn and are clear and clever enough to spawn one of those BBC miniseries where sparkling dialog is the chief hallmark of civilization. The bemused king watching his youngest daughter be more interested in archaeology than "princessing," while his queen fumes is worth a couple of guffaws and a hiccup. The sad quest of Jonah Cle for his lost magic centers the book and provides a sobering thread throughout.

This, here, is the real deal, folks. If this isn't one of the finalists for the World Fantasy Award in 2011, there ain't no justice.

Walt Boyes
Active Member SFWA

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The Bards of Bone Plain

What he said. Top drawer.

Are you on the Newest Bar incarnation, BananaSlug?


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