Brenden Vetch has a gift. With an innate sense he cannot explain to himself or describe to others, he is able to connect to the agricultural world, nurturing gardens to flourish and instinctively knowing the healing properties each plant and herb has to offer. But Brenden's gift isolates him from people and from becoming part of a community - until the day he receives a personal invitation from the Wizard Od. She needs a gardener for her school in the great city of Kelior, where every potential wizard must be trained to serve the Kingdom of Numis. For decades the rulers of Numis have controlled the school, believing they can contain the power within it, and have punished any wizard who dares defy the law. But unknown to the reigning monarchy is the power possessed by the school's new gardener, a power that even Brenden isn't fully aware of, and which is the true reason Od recruited him.More
"With lyrical prose, well-limned characterizations, vibrant action, a sense of the wonder of magic, and a generous dollop of romance, this is a story that will bind readers in its spell." (Booklist)
"World Fantasy Award-winner McKillip demonstrates once again her exquisite grasp of the fantasist's craft....[A]n otherworldly delight" (Publishers Weekly)
"Lyrically told, the novel evokes an enchanting atmosphere and thoughtful tone...." (KLIATT)
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Beautiful, meandering, but not the best narration
Quite the opposite, sadly.
A charming, meandering tale filled with surprisingly believable characters and beautiful prose, the effect is marred slightly by the breathy narration, which often ties itself up and confuses the mood of a scene or character, which has a rather jarring effect.
Indeed, on one notable occasion, the narrator confuses which characters are speaking, realises mid-speech and corrects herself. Not the best treatment, and rather suggests that the narrator wasn't given much (any?) direction, nor appropriate correction.
Fortunately, the quality of the writing; the wonderful characters; the meandering narrative; the charming, positive story all conspire to render the problems with the reading insignificant. This is a wonderful slice of fantasy, filled with humanity and livened up with a light dusting of myth and fairytale, and is more than worthy of anybody's shelf, virtual or otherwise.
- Yann Best