by Patricia A. McKillip
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Hardcover Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0441012485
Date: 07 June, 2005 List Price $22.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Brenden Vetch considers himself a gardener. A better than average gardener, he'll grant you but nothing special ? definitely not a magician. However, Brenden comes into the School of Magic by way of the door under the sign of the shoe. It's been years since anyone has come to the school by that door. Only Od has ever sent students to that entry. Wizard Yar is called by magic and meets Brenden as he enters the school. Yar sends him to the garden and decides to keep him a secret, at least for a while, for Brenden insists he isn't a wizard.
Od founded the School of Magic centuries ago. With the founding of the school a war was ended. Sponsored by the King, the school which was attached to the castle as a way to see that all who had talent were trained appropriately. Untrained magical users in the kingdom are killed or banished, because of the danger of an untrained magic user loose among the people.
But, in Od Magic, we quickly learn that what we see is not necessarily what is true and that truth is often not only not seen, but denied. Students of the school and wizards are banned from entering the Twilight Quarter of the city. In the Twilight Quarter, day is night and night is day and anything can and does seem to happen when Tyramin the trickster entertains. The King demands to know if Tyramin is a wizard or simply a sleight of hand artist. But, Tyramin is harder to pin down than water in a stream. Arneth, the Warden for that area of the city, isn't even sure Tyramin exists.
The characters and plot elements separate and twine about each other confusing the reader, not that the plot is vague or confusing, but that the confusion of the reader is intentional in order to keep us from seeing more than the characters. We learn as we read and we are in some way a part of the story not just the reader of the book. The language and phrasing are so rich, you find yourself drawn in and spellbound until the last page is read.
A richly textured fantasy. Recommended.