Song for the Basilisk ★★★★★

basilisk (Custom)

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Title: Song for the Basilisk
Series: ——
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 318
Format: Digital Edition



The city of Berylon was ruled by 4 Great Houses, which in turn were led by House Tourmalyne. 30 some years ago House Griffin [Tourmalyne] was overthrown by House Basilisk, led by Arioso Pellior. Pellior killed every direct member of House Griffin, or so he thinks. One young boy survives and is spirited away to the Isle of Luly to become a nameless bard.

Caladrius grows up, has a son and refuses to remember. Until he makes his trip off the island and realizes that he must revenge his family and destroy House Basilisk. He becomes a nobody musician and works his way into the palace. With a magic lute filled with killer fire, Caladrius plans on assassinating the Basilisk at his birthday celebration. What he doesn’t count on is his son also coming to the city to find him.

He also doesn’t count on the daughter of the Basilisk having the same powers as her father. But where the Basilisk is evil, it isn’t so clear that his daughter is. Caladrius must decide if revenge for his past is the worth sacrificing the future of his son. And when it becomes apparent that the Basilisk plans to rule Berylon from beyond the grave through his daughter, she must decide if House Basilisk will stay ascendant over a dead city or bow its head to House Griffin and return things to their rightful place.


My Thoughts:

This book was about the power of magic within the guise of music. I don’t know how to go about talking about this book without just fanboying. McKillip can write like no one else I’ve ever read. I think then next book of hers I will read selections outloud to see if there is rhythm to her sentences. Her words flow.

The story itself is good. A tale of revenge that redeems itself instead of creating more death and destruction. The use of multiple instruments to show characteristics of the various people was fun to realize. It was skillfully drawn and I couldn’t remember which direction the Basilisk’s daughter took, so the ending was new all over again. The benefits of waiting 11 years between re-reads I guess.

Last time I gave this 4 Stars, but this time around I’m calling this a solid 5. McKillip’s writing is top notch. It is well crafted and more than that, it is artistic. It is a joy to read the story and a joy to read the wordcrafting itself.

Part of the reason I like most of McKillip’s writing so much is that this is as close to poetry as I’m going to get and to enjoy. I’ve tried various books of poetry throughout the years and each time it has defeated me and left me bored. But I WANT to like Poetry.

I’ve also included a high quality picture of the full cover art. I’ve included the link so if you click it it will go full size in its own window. Definitely the top contender for cover love in my June Roundup & Ramblings.






  1. Song for the Basilisk (2006 Review)

16 thoughts on “Song for the Basilisk ★★★★★

  1. McKillip is a different sort of fantasy writer. Maybe she isn’t one. At times McKillip reminds me of K. J. Parker without the magic. So much of the fantasy genre is ironically enough incredibly mundane. Geographical details of made up places, complex histories of civilisations that never were. Protagonists with the morality of modern America or Europe. McKillip is like none of that, and all the better for it. Her books don’t even a map at the beginning, which is a welcome change! No detailed world history, no huge list of characters either – she just gets on with it. I haven’t read this one, but I will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’m going to read her Riddlemaster trilogy next. I believe I read that first years ago and the style totally threw me then and I didn’t like the unexpectedness of it. Now that I know what to expect, I am looking forward to diving into her world.

      She reminds me of fairytales. Lots of details left out and a “just accept it or leave it” kind of attitude…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The artist, Kimiko [I think?], did her covers for about 10 years. McKillips latest book or two hasn’t had her doing the covers and I really miss the art. They just don’t look the same or have the same vibe sitting on my shelf…

      Liked by 1 person

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