Od Magic


Title: Od Magic

Author:  Patricia Mckillip

Publisher: Gollancz (S.F. Gateway)

Pages: 328

Format Read: Kindle

Od Magic is a fantasy novel about a school of wizardry and its mysterious founder, the giant Od. Nobody has seen her for decades, but all that happens in the book eventually finds its way to her.

Brenden Vetch is appointed to the school as a gardener. He has powers that confound the wizards of the school, he has powers that confuse himself. He hears plants think, or something like that. The novel starts with him, and then he’s not around for a long time.

Od Magic is told from multiple points of view. There is Arneth, a member of the city watch who is assigned to find a travelling magician in the streets of the magical Twilight Quarter. Then there is Mistral, daughter of the said magician. And Yar Ayrwood, a wizard at Od’s school, and Sulys, the daughter of the king. Brenden again, feeling bewildered. And an annoying apprentice who turns up at the oddest times, an Elver.

The writing is of course lush and beautiful and Mckillip’s descriptions, especially of the Twilight Quarter, are truly magical. The shifting points of view are a bit confusing though, since you’re not given enough time to really understand a character’s motivations. Because by then you are reading about someone else entirely.

The novel’s structure is fairly simple and the power struggles of both king and countryman are easy to guess. Which was refreshing. I liked it precisely because of its simplicity.

Strangely though, it is hard to summarise the plot, and it does seem a little weak at times. There is self-discovery and a magic system full of conjuration and divination. What ties the characters together is Od, naturally. She seems to guide them, forcing them to question themselves and the inflexibility of their king, without being present. Also, the magician of the Twilight Quarter, Tyramin, is something of a magnet – he’s the reason for a lot of chaos in the kingdom of Kelior. Except nobody can find him.

Od Magic, is, I think, a whimsical and dreamlike tale.


8 thoughts on “Od Magic

  1. A lot of McKillip’s books are hard to summarize, as she is like an artist, dabbing a bit of one color here and then another color over there. When you examine the parts, it sounds clunky, but once you step back and examine it as a whole, whammo, pure magic! 😀

    Of course, I’m rather biased as I’m a huge McKillip fan…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ohhhh, you are right! The Moon Flash duology turns into SF. It starts out very fantasy and is a river journey so I completely forgot it ends up being SF.
        Good call!

        Any of the books with a cover by Kinuko Craft are the absolute best. I was disappointed when Kingfisher didn’t use Mrs Craft’s art and went for some generic “blah” cover…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The cover for Kingfisher looked like every YA (un)inspired cover out there nowadays. I just don’t understand why the publishers didn’t try for another Craft. They are so distinctive and like you wrote, they complement McKillip’s writing so well.

        One of life’s mysteries I guess 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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