Review: Riddle-Master of Hed

A long-time favorite, it had been at least 20 years since I’d traveled with Morgan from the farming island of Hed to see the High One in Erlenstar Mountain. This was one of those transformative books for me, a fantasy that made me think, made me want to look beyond the boundaries of what we can see and know.

It’s also a book that has a lot of what I would rather read C.S. Lewis refer to as that great “Northness” as Morgan spends a lot of time in the colder realms near the High One’s home, learning to change shape and claiming the sword that is part of his destiny.

It is a story about a “chosen one,” something that has fallen out of favor over the years, I guess. I always thought that was part of the allure of fantasy fiction. We all want to be the one chosen to have a great destiny, an important fate; we want to be the one to save the world.

Reading this novel fills me with nostalgia, but beyond that I felt the story held up to my adult eyes in most regards. Sure, McKillip couldn’t refer to a piece of cloth without saying it was “rich,” but other than that the book didn’t fall apart as poorly written pulp only fit for kids and teens of the 1970s and ’80s. I still highly recommend it and look forward to starting the next book of the trilogy tonight.

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