Patricia A. McKillip,
Od Magic
(Ace, 2005)

It is a rule that any new fantasy from Patricia A. McKillip is sure to be a delight, and Od Magic is no exception.

In the Kingdom of Numis, magic and wizards are strictly controlled and regulated by the king himself. All wizards are required to be trained at the Od School of Magic, housed within the palace itself. Wizards learn only the approved magic; anything more, and they could find themselves exiled.

Brenden Vetch, a northerner with a gift for working with plants and animals, is dispatched to the school by Od herself -- but not, despite his great gifts, to be trained as a wizard. Od intends him instead to be the third gardener, the one who works with magical plants.

Brenden's gift isn't the only unusual and unregulated magic in Kelior these days. The king's daughter Sulys has a gift as well -- not for large magics but the small ones taught by her great grandmother, brought, like her mother, from outside Numis. And in the Twilight Quarter of the city, a wizard called Tyramin, who may not be a true wizard, entertains with spells that may -- or may not -- be true spells.

As always, McKillip's lyrical writing is a pleasure to read and to savor. Her characters are vibrant people in vivid settings, the whole seeming to leap off the page into colorful life.

The book is physically as lovely as the story. Though hardcover, it is only slightly larger than a paperback, with a lush dustjacket illustration by Kinuko Y. Craft, who has painted the covers for all of McKillip's recent books.

There are only a few authors whose new works I await with the breathless anticipation of a child on Christmas morning, and Patricia A. McKillip is definitely one of them.

by Laurie Thayer
17 March 2006

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