Patricia A. McKillip’s heartwarming THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD surpasses all expectations

The new edition of Patricia A. McKillip’s World Fantasy Award-winner THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD, available in paperback and for the first time as an ebook, continues to receive effusive praise.

SABRINA’S LIBRARY praises the classic work.

The new edition also features a forward by Gail Carriger, who rates THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD as one of her favorite books of all time–and for a good reason. This book, along with McKillip’s beloved RIDDLE-MASTER trilogy, is one of those fantasy classics that avid readers of the genre heartily recommend. These impressive accolades are probably why I avoided THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD for a long time. Even though, like I said, I’m a big McKillip fan, I was always a little apprehensive about reading it: would it live up to my massive expectations? I didn’t want it not to live up to them, so I avoiding reading it for a long time.

Of course, those fears were for naught. I’m pleased to say that THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD surpassed all my expectations and reignited my love for fantasy fiction. I’ve been in something of a reading drought lately: moodily dipping in and out of books that don’t seem to grab me. This one was the exception: this book didn’t let go. Now, weeks later, I’m still thinking of Sybel, Coren, and the story’s magnificent beasts.


The only thing I regret about this book is that I won’t be able to read it for the first time twice–but that’s always my regret when finishing a McKillip book. It doesn’t stop me from coming back for more. If you’re reading McKillip for the first time, start with this one.

At THE SPECULATIVE HERALD, Lisa Taylor enjoys her introduction to Patricia McKillip.

I enjoyed the main character, and I love how she learns the value of other people, but still is fiercely independent.

There were moments where I may have felt things were just a bit rushed, but overall, I really don’t think it was an issue. It is just a different type of read, and I think it worked very well.

The book is full of magic, wonder and fantastic creatures.  It tells a heart warming story of an independent woman who grows as a person and learns some important life lessons. This really is a wonderful read, and I fully understand why McKillip is recommended so highly.

Photo: Stephen Gold/Wikimedia Commons

READ ALL ABOUT IT loved the book.

This is a beautiful book, mystical and magical. There is romance, but it is not a romance – it is more of a coming-of-age as Sybel leaves her mountain home and discovers the world outside her gates. She is at once powerful and fragile, scheming and naïve. She is ill-used and makes mistakes, but rises above like the Liralen, the legendary bird she has never been able to call.

The setting is fantastical and familiar, a typical agrarian kingdom with a touch of magic on the side; the prose is powerful and dreamlike, timeless in its simplicity. Normally I rate books on how much I want to read more, but the ending was so perfect it defies this. If you enjoy fantasy beyond heroic quests and sword fights, please read this.

Five magical stars

Instead of the usual “I chose this why” post about her Coop de Book selection, Gail Carriger, as an explanation, chose to reprint her introduction to the new edition THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD.

When I was much younger, my friends and I would challenge ourselves with the hardest question ever asked of any avid reader:

Which book would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

There were a lot of books I loved back then, and a lot of new books have been added to that list-of-adored over the years. But after the first time I read THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD, it became the answer to this question, always and forever. Thirty years later, it’s still the answer.

So now I am left with a very difficult task. How do I explain my love for this perfect desert-island book?

THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD is like no fantasy novel you have ever read before, and yet it is a touchstone for all of them. It’s not just that the story is magic — it’s that the prose itself is magical and heart-wrenching. Not only will you become immersed in plot and character but also sentence structure. McKillip forms a stunning union of what is told and what is portrayed, and how a writer can transcribe both. It’s like fractal mathematics: beautiful, impossible for an ordinary human to quite understand, and yet hypnotic. Just the opening paragraph is chilling, and thrilling, and all sort of other trilling llls in a row. I can’t describe this book, because it is better than that. It’s better than my capacity for description. It’s not funny, or cute, or silly — it is a work of pure lyrical genius.

For more info about THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover by Thomas Canty