The Riddle-Master of Hed (Riddle-Master No.1) – Patricia A. McKillip
Ace Books, 1999
Originally published in 1976
The last thing Morgon wants is a destiny, he already has enough to do – his remote island kingdom of Hed to manage, his argumentative siblings to keep in order – but a spur of the moment challenge from a time of grief is suddenly no longer a secret and the consequences spiral outward, creating unimaginable ripples across the world. Trained by the Riddle-Masters of Caithnard, Morgon has won a ghost’s crown and the hand of a princess. At the same time, he has unknowingly woken enemies from centuries of truce. The greatest riddle of all, he discovers, may be himself. He’ll be lucky if he lives to answer it.
I don’t read much high fantasy any more, but I would make pretty much any exception for Patricia A. McKillip, who is one of my favourite writers. Morgon is a very likable protagonist and I enjoyed the exploration of ideas about destiny, even if I didn’t agree with all of them. I would have liked more explanation for why so many characters are centuries old, but McKillip sweeps you off into a world of beautiful enigmas and her writing is so very lovely that she gets away with it. The Riddle-Master continues with Heir of Sea and Fire.