Review: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no-one outside her eldgates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the exquisite and mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments.

But when a soldier bearing an infant arrives, Sybel discovers that the world of man and magic is full of both love and deceit, and the possibility of more power than she can possibly imagine


This book was meh. I was expecting a lot from it as it sounded right up my alley. I love magical creatures and wizard women, so I was expecting a Fantasy novel, featuring Sybel and her animal companions having adventures^^ Or at least doing stuff. Anything.

Unfortunately the animals stay in the background most of the times. They are mentioned, and there are a lot of them, but apart from the falcon Ter, they are just… there. They don’t do anything apart from talking to Sybel a couple of times.

I actually felt pretty bad for them being held captive!

We don’t get any background information on the world or the people living there. That would have been alright if it was a character-driven story, but here’s my problem. I know it is supposed to be just that, but the characters were all nothing to me. I didn’t know them, I didn’t have the chance to GET to know them. The story jumps a lot of time in the start and because of that I just couldn’t care about Tam or even Coren.

Coren turns up on Sybel’s doorstep with a baby. There’s been a war, the baby is the son of the king, Drede, and Coren & his brothers want him to grow up away from the King, whom they detest. Tam, the baby, would be save with her. Sybel doesn’t want any of it at first. She’s happy with her animals, but gets talked into it and takes Tam.

I would have liked to know about how Sybel was coping with Tam and how he developed and had an impact on her. But no, we jump about 12 years. I couldn’t connect with Tam, Coren or even Sybel. I just didn’t know them. There was nothing that made me care.

Also, I wasn’t a fan of Coren being in love with Sybel. You basically saw each other for 5 minutes and only meet again after 12 years. I was missing something.

Nothing really got a reaction from me. I didn’t care about Sybel’s dilemma in the end. I get why she is angry at what happened to her – who wouldn’t, but this whole little drama with her not telling Coren didn’t make sense to me. It seemed forced. Pair that with the fact that I don’t even get, why Coren and Sybel are in love anyways and you see why I just couldn’t relate.

Maybe it would have been better if the author had spent some more time with Sybel and Coren to show how their relationship developed. Same as with Tam growing up. That might have helped. Also, more animal-action! There’s a dragon – do something with him!

2/5 stars, for the animals. And the style of writing was good.



  1. Oooooh, I don’t think you’re going to like much of ANY of McKillip’s stuff if this is how you felt about the elements making up this story.
    My recommendation is either Kingfisher [her latest release I believe] or In the Forests of Serre. If you don’t like one or either of them either, she’s definitely NOT for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I tried this book once and didn’t get very far, but I was younger and perhaps less patient as a reader? Still from your description I don’t think I would like it now either.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember liking this one as a dreamy fantasy (not much in the way of plot, just atmosphere), but don’t remember much more than that – and I tried reading another McKillip (The Changeling Sea) and didn’t get on so well. Sometimes an author just isn’t our cup of tea (me and Catherynne Valente: I love the sound of every book, but then don’t love reading it).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Arrrr matey! This book was a horrible read for both me and the first mate. I don’t get the McKillip love at all. Despite Bookstooge trying to explain it to me :). How can dragons be boring! Also imyril glad to hear that Catherynne Valente doesn’t work for someone else either. Her blurbs always make me want to read the books but I never like any of them. Fun post.
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I read her Winter Rose, and I remember enjoying it but I couldn’t tell you why. I remember it being very abstract in some ways. I think I’ll read it again (when I find my copy) so that I have a better idea of what I liked. Of course, my opinion may have changed since then…

    Thanks for the review on this. Good to know that if I read this I won’t get much in the way of animals.


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