Book: Alphabet of Thorn

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Book:

Alphabet of Thorn

Author: Patricia A. McKillip
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Publisher: Ace Books

Deep inside a palace on the edge of the world, the orphan Nepenthe pores over books in the royal library, translating their languages and learning their secrets. Now sixteen, she knows little of the outside world—except for the documents that traders and travelers bring her to interpret.

Then, during the coronation of the new Queen of Raine, a young mage gives Nepenthe a book that has defied translation. Written in a language of thorns, it speaks to Nepenthe’s soul—and becomes her secret obsession. And, as the words escape the brambles and reveal themselves, Nepenthe finds her destiny entwined with that of the young queen’s. Sooner than she thinks, she will have to choose between the life she has led and the life she was born to lead.

Reviews

Amazon.com

Patricia A McKillip is one of America’s greatest fantasy authors, and Alphabet of Thorn joins a well-established canon of work. Her best known novels include Riddle-Master; World Fantasy Award-winner The Forgotten Beasts of Eld; World Fantasy Award and Mythopoeic Award-winner Ombria in Shadow; and In the Forests of Serre. Like its predecessors, Alphabet of Thorn demonstrates McKillip’s mastery of prose and her knowledge of the human heart.

As an infant, Nepenthe was abandoned by her mother on the edge of a cliff so high no one can hear the sea below. Nepenthe was raised by the librarians of the Royal Library of Raine, and knows little of the outside world beyond what she reads. She has a gift for translation, and she alone has a chance of translating a newly arrived book, a mysterious tome written in an alien alphabet that resembles thorns. But Nepenthe has fallen in love with the high-born student-mage who brings her the book. And the thorns are exerting a strange power over her—a magic that may destroy not only Nepenthe, but the kingdom of Raine and the entire world. —Cynthia Ward

Barnes and Noble

Fantasy author Patricia A. McKillip, the 21st century’s response to Hans Christian Andersen, has mastered the art of writing fairy tales—as evidenced by previous works like The Tower at Stony Wood, Ombria in Shadow, and In the Forests of Serre. Alphabet of Thorn is yet another timeless fable suitable for children and adults alike.

In the kingdom of Raine, a vast realm at the edge of the world, an orphaned baby girl is found by a palace librarian and raised to become a translator. Years later, the girl—named Nepenthe—comes in contact with a mysterious book written in a language of thorns that no one, not even the wizards at Raine’s famous Floating School for mages, can decipher. The book calls out to Nepenthe’s very soul, and she is soon privately translating its contents. As she works tirelessly transcribing the book—which turns out to be about the historical figures of Axis, the Emperor of Night, and Kane, his masked sorcerer—the kingdom of Raine is teetering on the brink of chaos. The newly crowned queen, a mousy 14-year old girl named Tessera who wants nothing to do with matters of state, hides in the woods as regents plot revolution. The queen’s destiny, however, is intertwined with Nepenthe’s ability to unravel the mystery of the thorns.

Lyrical, wistful, steeped in folklore, and saturated with magic, McKillip’s newest novel is an absolute gem that should not only be read by adults but also shared with children who enjoy tales dealing with myth and legends—simply delightful. —Paul Goat Allen

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