Currently Reading: Alphabet of Thorn (2004) by Patricia McKillip

Gorgeous cover art by Kinuko Craft

Taking a leaf from Bookstooge’s book and having some time to kill at work, here is a quote from Patricia McKillip’s 2004 novel Alphabet of Thorn:

“What else did you see?” he asked the odd young woman, who seemed more woodland animal than human. A useful quality in a mage, he thought. Some of us have a harder time forgetting our humanity.
‘Things,’ she said vaguely, remembering them. She took an unconscious step toward him. ‘A tree spoke to me. It looked like a very old man, twisted and slow, with mossy hair down to its ankles and eyes like dead leaves. It did not say much, just my name. I think that’s very strange, that a tree I have never met would know my name. And there were the stags with the fire in their antlers. They did not speak. The warrior followed them.’
‘The warrior.’
‘Fully armed, on a white war horse. The warrior wore a great sword with a crosspiece laid with uncut jewels; it looked too long and heavy for anyone human to wield.

A recommendation from Bookstooge, I read Patricia McKillip’s In the Forests of Serre back in July 2020. Her lyrical prose and layered world-building really impressed me and I determined to explore more of her writing. It has only taken me two years to get around to it.

I’m currently about a third of the way into Alphabet of Thorn and I really like it so far. I feel transported to another world when I read this book, and that’s one of the main reasons I love reading works described as “speculative fiction.”

Q. What are you currently reading and how is it so far?

Thanks for reading!

-Wakizashi, *wallowing in the rare luxury of being able to read all day at work; just for today*


11 thoughts on “Currently Reading: Alphabet of Thorn (2004) by Patricia McKillip

  1. McKillip had superb cover art, Bookstooge brought it to my attention and convinced me to read her more… I simply love her style.

    I just started reading Hutchinson’s “Europe in Autumn”, great novel and he portrays my Poland with enough knowledge not to annoy me, and enough simplifications to make me smile 😉 It’s a good exercise, reminds me not to take how other countries are depicted in fiction too seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, big thanks to Bookstooge for introducing me to the author, too. She has a really individual style which is a joy to read.

      I really hope you enjoy Hutchinson’s book. I’ve read all four of the Fractured Europe books and enjoyed each one.


  2. Thanks for the shoutout.

    I really do love McKillip’s writings, that is for sure! That experience of being transported somewhere else is just priceless.

    I’m currently trying out a new to me series called Victor the Assassin. There are 10-12 books so I’m really hoping it works out.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. McKillip is an author whose books I’ve been collecting because of all the high praise. I look forward to one day trying some of them. Hopefully I won’t wait another 2 years, but I’ve been collecting them for longer than that. 🙂

    I just finished reading Peacemaker by Joseph Bruchac which is a tale of the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy, how an almost mythic person known as the Peacemaker brought together the 5 warring nations and convinced them to make peace. The author tells the tale from the perspective of a young boy caught up in those times, which helps give it a more personal feel. I loved the book, but I’ve also always been fascinated by stories and history of the various native peoples of North America.

    And I just started reading City of Ash and Red by Hye-Young Pyun, which appears to involve a global pandemic, though the book was published a couple years before covid broke out. So far it’s interesting but still too soon to have a good feel one way or the other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How are your reading habits these days Todd? I’ve been taking longer and longer to finish the books I start. This has been going on for the last couple of years. I regularly read and review comics for my YouTube channel–and for pleasure–but the number of books I’m reading in a year has noticeably decreased. I’m spending a lot of time doing the YouTube thing and I’m also watching quite a lot of streaming content. When I pick up a book in the evening, I get sleepy after about ten minutes of reading. It’s quite embarrassing to admit, but there you go. It could be an age thing? It’s not because I’m reading a boring or difficult book. It’s all me! Just curious, and you don’t have to answer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thankfully I still have a fairly healthy reading habit, though I do know several folks who have read less as they age and often complain of falling asleep not long after they sit down in the recliner. So I certainly think age, as you mention, might be a factor. For myself, I may actually be reading more, though that’s mostly because I’ve fully embraced audiobooks over the past few years. They let me “read” while driving or doing housework. I do still prefer reading paper or ebooks, but audio has been great for me. One thing I have noticed is if I do spend more time doing shorter duration activities, like reading lots of comics, or watching lots of YouTube or tv shows, is that my attention span decreases at least for a while, such that if I read a longer book I’ll often want to set it down after 15-30 minutes instead of being able to read for an hour or more (provided I have that much consecutive free time). So I try to find a balance between shorter and longer content, though of course that’s easier said than done.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I listen to audiobooks on my work commute. I read during lunch break and sometimes when I get a break between classes. I also read before going to bed. That’s a great way for me to become sleepy 😉

          Finding a balance is a good call. I need to look into that. Thanks again Todd.

          Liked by 1 person

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