The Book of Atrix Wolfe – Patricia A. McKillip
War and winter had the king of Pelucir under siege, but he was killed by magic – slaughtered on Hunter’s Field by a nameless power. His orphaned son Talis was sent to learn sorcery and returns with a book in which every word is a trick and a lie. He retreats to the highest room of the haunted keep to immerse himself in its dangerous magic, while in the woods beyond a queen hunts the maker of sorrow, and in the kitchens below a wordless foundling dreams of black-horned death.
This book was first published in 1995 and my library’s Atom paperback is shelved in YA, but it is, like everything else McKillip has written, timeless and ageless. The richness of her language is incomparable and the story has a more definitive resolution than is usual with her. I don’t entirely agree with all the narrative’s conclusions (SPOILER: I lay most of the blame squarely on Riven of Kardeth’s head and wanted such bad things to happen to him) but I was, as ever, bewitched.