What am I reading, now? The Riddle Master of Hed

by manylaughs on June 21, 2012

The Riddle Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip.
All rights reserved by the publisher and author.

 

Lean.

Before you even open the book,the first thing you’ll notice Patricia A. McKillip’s The Riddle Master of Hed  is how lean it is. The entire book is less than 200 pages. Admittedly, it’s the first book of a trilogy, but the entire trilogy is less than 600 pages. In a time when George Martin can’t spend less than 200 pages describing how Daenerys brushes her hair, it might seem a little hard to believe anyone can tell a story in just 200 pages; but this used to be the norm, not the exception.

Ursula LeGuinn’s Earth Sea Trilogy also weighs in around 600 pages. C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a whopping 256 pages. The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is only about 1100 pages, if you don’t count the appendices. George Martin’s The Game of Thrones is almost that long and it’s just the first book in the still-not-finished A Song of Fire and Ice series.

Nowadays, larger books are the norm. They’re filled with description and they satisfy the desire a lot of fantasy readers have to immerse themselves in the fantasy world and its lore. The Riddle Master of Hed does little to describe or tell you what the world is like. Patricia A. McKillip’s classic is almost entirely plot driven, she adds just enough description to keep the plot moving and little more. This has the advantage of allowing the reader to fill in her world of riddle masters and wizards with little direct guidance from the author. The reader, with just enough help from the author, invents the world.

In some cases, it does leave you wanting more. You do yearn to know more about the cities and the lands and the magic and the beasts, but those are gaps to be filled in by your imagination, something that’s not so lean.

If you’ve never read any fantasy from this era, The Riddle Master of Hed is the perfect place to start.

Highly recommended.

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