Read for the Once Upon a Time X Reading Challenge. (It’s become somewhat of a tradition to read a McKillip book for this challenge.)
The boy called Rook was brought to the bards at Luly as a child, not remembering his own name, only that he had been born anew in the fire that claimed the lives of the rest of his family. At Luly, he found a home, but never became a bard, because becoming a bard meant journeying to the Hinterlands to find your gift, and something held him to Luly.
Interspersed with this story is one in the city of Berylon, where Arioso Pellior, duke of the Pellior House, whose sign is the Basilisk, has seized power by killing the entire family of the Duke of Tourmalyne. This is obviously Rook’s family, and while the main line is dead, the House’s distant relatives remember, and try to plot for the day when they can take revenge. It so happens that Tourmalyne’s greatest gift to the city is a school of music, which even the House of Pellior cannot close down.
When Rook’s own son has grown, Rook finally remembered his own name, and the terrible night that killed his family. He’s ready to journey to the Hinterlands, to come into the power of a bard, and then return to Berylon. The story from there is a bit of a dream, set within an opera staged for Pellior’s birthday. It’s a dreamy story, and I’ll admit, the end came quickly, and not quite as expected. Another fascinating McKillip book.