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Title: The Sorceress and the Cygnet
Series: Cygnet #1
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Corleu, a wayfolk man, gets lost with his love in a fog. He escapes, only to find it was all a setup by powerful characters from what he assumed was only folklore. The Gold King, the Blind Dancer, the Fire Bear, the Warlock and others all promise Corleu the return of his love and any wish he desires if he’ll only find and deliver the heart of the Cygnet to them.
Nyx Ro has spent the last 9 years running from her responsibilities as Holders Daughter and gone far and wide across the land, learning more of magic than anyone even knew existed. Her Hold, symbolized by the Cygnet, is now in danger and Nyx must decide what she’ll do. What she does is teach Corleu the magic he’ll need, for she desires the power of the heart for herself.
Meguet Vervaine, sworn champion of Hold Ro, is without magic but she won’t let that stop her from stopping Corleu OR Nyx. Only it turns out she isn’t without magic, but filled with a different kind of magic, one to protect the Cygnet.
Everyone comes together in one climactic showdown, where it turns out that the Fairytale Powers were there simply to show Nyx her way, to awaken the powers within Meguet and to show Corleu his roots.
The book ends with them all eating cake and singing kumbaya around a campfire. That’s me being a smartass, not how the book really ends. Just in case you couldn’t tell.
When I first read the Cygnet Duology in ’07 I was particularly annoyed with Corleu for being a muzzy headed muckerhead. That hasn’t changed one bit in 10 years. I still found him just as annoying and stupid this time around as I did last time. I don’t know if it is because I’m pigheaded or my Yankeeness or what, but if someone starts trying to manipulate me, my reaction is to just stop. There are consequences to that kind of in/action, but I just put my feet down. Corleu, and like characters, tend to float along like dandelion seeds being blown hither and yon, simply reacting to the threat right in front of them without thinking about what it means or anything. That always sets me off.
Thankfully, Corleu isn’t the focus for the whole book. He’s the focus for the first third, then Nyx gets her third and then Meguet gets her turn.
I have to admit that I skimmed some of this and I know that when you do that to a McKillip book you miss out on details. Basically by the end I still had NO clue why the Constellations all ganged up against the Cygnet or what they actually accomplished. I felt a bit like a muzzy headed muckerhead myself to be honest. Definitely a book I want to re-read again in the future to try to tease out the real meaning hidden in all the words.
This is not a McKillip book I would broadly recommend to just anyone. If you’ve read all her other stuff, then try this. But don’t start with this, not at all.