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Od Magic [Hardcover]

Patricia A. McKillip
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000EUKQZA
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Brenden Vetch found the Od School of Magic beneath a cobbler's shoe on a busy street in the ancient city of Kelior. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic will spring up where it wills 28 Dec 2005
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Because of the Harry Potter literary trend, there are a lot of "wizard school" books coming out. But Patricia McKillip turns that trend on its ear with "Od Magic," the most intelligent and exquisite "wizard school" book yet written. Don't expect flashy magic and goofy antics -- this is pure magic from start to finish.
Brendan Vetch has always had a way with plants, and that is why the ancient wizard Od asked him to come to her wizards' school in the city of Kelior. When Brendan journeys there, he finds that Kelior is ruled by a king who fears magic, and the cold-hearted wizard Valoren. Any magic they don't approve is immediately outlawed, and strict rules are wound around the wizards' school.
As Brendan arrives, other things begin to happen -- rebellious Princess Sulys finds out that she's been betrothed to Valoren. A mysterious masked wizard and his ever-changing daughter arrive in the forbidden Twilight Quarter. And when Brendan's powers suddenly show themselves, he flees to a strange mountain -- where the most powerful magic of all is hiding.
"Od Magic" follows the basic template of McKillip's past novels: Rich prose, primal and exquisite magic, and several storylines that don't seem to be connected, but come together by the end. And while that end seems a bit too easy, it's a glorious ride to finally get there.
The wizards' school is only a setting for magic that many fantasy writers can only dream of -- a magical maze, a girl who does illusions, and the veiled wildness of the Twilight Quarter. McKillip's velvety prose softens up the royal intrigues, with smoke, mirrors, ribbons, word games and illusions. Calling it intoxicating isn't much of a stretch; writing this lush and dreamy is something you can get drunk on.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another favorite from McKillip 7 Aug 2005
By humanitysdarkerside VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I almost hate to say this, but I would probably buy any book from Patricia McKillip without knowing didly about its contents. All of her books have been awesome. She makes me weep and laugh and tense up - and detains me until the last page is finished. This is yet another one of those books.
Cover:
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 punish any wizard who dares defy the law.
But unknown to the reigning monarchy is the power possessed by the schools's new gardener - a power that even Brenden isn't fully aware of - and which is the true reason Od recruited him.
And so the adventure begins.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conformity or odd individualism? 24 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback
Brenden Vetch is crippled by suffering and loneliness. A short while ago both his mother and father died of a mysterious illness that swept through his village. Next his brother, Jode, left to find his place in the world. Finally even Brenden's girlfriend, Meryd, finds she cannot stay with him any longer. Alone Brenden retreats into the forest. He has a gift with plants. He can mysteriously divine their uses. Even sleeping out of doors Brenden becomes one with nature. Then he receives an unexpected visit from a most unusual, tall lady. Her name is Od and she invites him to become a gardener at her school of magic in the great city of Kelior. But at the school Brenden is still in many ways lost. He will, however, become caught up in a train of events that will greatly disturb Kelior.

If you have been a fan of Harry Potter and are wondering what to read next this may be the book for you. This novel, like those books, is about a school of magic, however, unlike them, it is written for adults and deals with the lives of the teachers, other staff, patrons, and adult family members.

The story's main theme is conformity, and it describes how authorities, like governments, force people to act in limited, predictable ways, so they will not disturb order or threaten power. Many of us feel that schools should be places which encourage the imagination and creativity, but more often than not they are places that limit the horizon and crush the spirit. Individualism is of course at odds with all this, but to be true to ourselves we may have to live in fear.

A second, but related, theme is the change that come over an individual at critical times of their life, such as marriage or mid-life.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Magic will spring up where it wills..." 30 July 2005
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Because of the Harry Potter literary trend, there are a lot of "wizard school" books coming out. But Patricia McKillip turns that trend on its ear with "Od Magic," the most intelligent and exquisite "wizard school" book yet written. Don't expect flashy magic and goofy antics -- this is pure magic from start to finish.

Brendan Vetch has always had a way with plants, and that is why the ancient wizard Od asked him to come to her wizards' school in the city of Kelior. When Brendan journeys there, he finds that Kelior is ruled by a king who fears magic, and the cold-hearted wizard Valoren. Any magic they don't approve is immediately outlawed, and strict rules are wound around the wizards' school.

As Brendan arrives, other things begin to happen -- rebellious Princess Sulys finds out that she's been betrothed to Valoren. A mysterious masked wizard and his ever-changing daughter arrive in the forbidden Twilight Quarter. And when Brendan's powers suddenly show themselves, he flees to a strange mountain -- where the most powerful magic of all is hiding.

"Od Magic" follows the basic template of McKillip's past novels: Rich prose, primal and exquisite magic, and several storylines that don't seem to be connected, but come together by the end. And while that end seems a bit too easy, it's a glorious ride to finally get there.

The wizards' school is only a setting for magic that many fantasy writers can only dream of -- a magical maze, a girl who does illusions, and the veiled wildness of the Twilight Quarter. McKillip's velvety prose softens up the royal intrigues, with smoke, mirrors, ribbons, word games and illusions. Calling it intoxicating isn't much of a stretch; writing this lush and dreamy is something you can get drunk on.

There are a few flaws -- the stuff about the "faces of magic" comes in rather late in the story, and the ending seems rather sudden and a bit too neat. It's a relief from endings that cannot be understood, though. However, she'll keep you guessing about what's going to happen until the very last pages. She even harkens back to her classic Riddlemaster series, with those ancient magical shapeshifters.

Though "Od Magic" has the odd flaws (od flaws?), Patricia McKillip's enchanting writing and imaginative story make this a thing of beauty. Beautiful, deep and rich.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic, Indeed 8 Jun 2005
By Matt Berger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There are few writers in the fantasy field these days whose work is so consistently good as Patricia McKillip. OD MAGIC, while perhaps a notch short of her fluid, near-flawless best (see: OMBRIA IN SHADOW, SONG FOR THE BASILISK), is among the best fantasy novels I have read so far this year.

Moreso than many of McKillip's recent novels, OD MAGIC weaves together a diverse group of characters and storylines, more loosely tied together than I'd expected--her previous novel, ALPHABET OF THORN, was a marvel of synthesis that wove what felt like two completely distinct books into a single, multifacted story; here, the four or five principals exist side-by-side in the same time and setting, but some are less integrated and less integral than others, and most part in much the same way they were drawn together in the first place. It feels odd (no pun intended) when an author noted mostly for the creation of a strong cast of characters changes the focus somewhat, but it works, and the characters that rise highest from the group--the story telegraphs none of this, and that's a knock-out--are more than worth waiting for.

As always, McKillip's artistry envelopes the novel in a mood and feel far brighter and deeper than any McFantasy can reach. OD MAGIC is a fine book, and deserves a place in any collection of traditional and literate fantasy fiction.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magical Gardener 12 Nov 2006
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Od Magic (2005) is a standalone fantasy novel. In the Kingdom of Numis, all magicians are trained at the Od School of Magic in Kelior. The school was started within an abandoned cobbler shop in the shadows of the King's Palace, but has been slowly absorbed into the Palace over the past four hundred years.

In this novel, Brenden Vetch has been invited to the school by Od herself to replace the gardener of magic plants. He has been listening to the plants for a few years, but feels frustrated by certain plants. He is also carrying a huge load of guilt for the death of his mother and father, despite his attempts to save them. His brother Jode, whom he managed to save, has tried to talk him out of his fugue, as had his lover Meryd, but to no avail. Both had eventually left him to travel to Kelior.

Now he is in Kelior himself, looking for the door under the shoe. After entering the door, he feels magic around him. A tall darkly robed man melts out of the air in front of him and Brenden states his name and then his purpose. The man seems surprised at his presence and story, but takes him to someone who will show him the garden and his room.

Yar Ayrwood has been at the school for nineteen years. He too had entered by the door under the shoe (most have never seen that door, having been admitted through the main entrance). When he finds Brenden in the vestibule, Yar takes him to Wye, who takes care of the administrative tasks. They are both troubled by the great reserve of magic in the gardener, but Od has sent the man, so they say nothing to the King or his advisors.

Ceta Thiel is writing a history of Od, telling of her disposition of enemy forces seeking to conquer Kelior and the subsequent founding of the School of Magic. Ceta has found a few odd references to powers hiding on Skyrgard Mountain, which she passes on to her lover Yar. She also wants to see the labyrinth in the school basement.

Princess Sulya is the King's daughter and the sister of Enys, the heir to the Kingdom. Neither have listened to her comments and questions since her mother died. Fortunately, Lady Dittany, her great-grandmother, still talks to her and shares her secrets.

Tyramin is a purveyor of magic, creating astounding displays of color and form that fascinate all who see them. Mistral is his daughter and assistant, who sometimes turns into a flock of doves. His magic show has just come to town and is holding nightly performances in the Twilight Quarter.

Valeren Grayle is the King's wizard, who sees threats to Numis on every side. Learning of Brenden and Tyramin, he immediately discerns great dangers and tries to discover more about them. Of course, his efforts generate fear in all whom he uses to investigate these risks to the Kingdom.

Arneth Pyt is the son of Murat Pyt, the High Warden, and is the Quarter Warden for the Twilight Quarter. Thoroughly bored with his administrative job, Arneth leaps at the opportunity to search out Tyramin and discover whether the man is a mountebank or a wizard. He has trouble finding Tyramin, but locates his daughter and falls in love with her.

Elver is a new student at the Od School of Magic. He is full of questions and mischief. He follows Yar around everywhere, even into the Twilight Quarter, and gets into a great deal of trouble.

In this story, Od sees great potential in Brenden and sends him to Kelior as a catalyst to bring new life to the study of magic. When Brenden arrives, the school is stirred into a delightful confusion.

Highly recommended for McKillip fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of the origins and evolution of magic and wizards.

-Arthur W. Jordin
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, readable, but a bit inconsequential 12 May 2006
By Richard R. Horton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Patricia A. McKillip's latest novel, Od Magic, is not part of a series. But it is one of a consistent set of novels that she puts out, pretty much one per year, tidily sized (about 90,000 words in this case), tidily shaped. In Od Magic there are no bad guys, just temporarily misled people. Which isn't a bad or dishonest thing, really. But in this particular case it does sort of dull the edge of the book.

Od is a legendary female wizard, very long lived but hardly ever seen. Centuries earlier she founded a school of wizardry in Kelior, the capital city of the Kingdom of Numis. Now she appears to a young man in the North named Brenden Vetch, and asks him to go to her school to be the gardener, and to look for the door under the shoe.

I confess I expected a story about Brenden, but this isn't what McKillip was after. Instead she follows a variety of people: Brenden of course, but also the influential wizard of Od's school, Yar; his politically connected lover Ceta; the High Warden's son, another Warden (that is to say, policeman), Arneth Pyt; the King's daughter, Princess Sulys, who is about to be married to a man she doesn't know, a priggish but powerful wizard; and the small-time wizard (small-time? perhaps!) Tyramin and his enigmatic daughter. The story revolves about the King's concern about the potential abilities of Tyramin, who is not under his control, and about Sulys's desire to actually have a chance to know her husband, and moreover her desire to use certain small powers she possesses, and about Yar's concern that his school -- Od's school -- may have become hidebound, too much a tool of the King (even though the King seems for the most part a pretty good King). And also about Brenden Vetch, and his quite remarkable powers, and his connection with certain beings that have long secretly inhabited the kingdom.

It's all a very nice novel, and always readable, and full of characters you like and root for -- but at the same time it seems a bit inconsequential -- or perhaps the term is "easy". In a way I found this refreshing -- the people really are all trying to do their best, they are just often misguided -- and in all honesty that seems truer than the common evil/good divide. But that said there really isn't much tension in the novel -- or much risk. I enjoyed it, and I think most readers will. But it didn't stay with me.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wizardy of Od 22 Jun 2006
By E. A. Lovitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Od is a gray-haired giantess who wanders the land of Numis, healing animals with her magic. When her wizardry saves the life and throne of the king, she asks only that she be allowed to set up a school of magic in an old cobbler's shop, in the Royal City of Kelior.

The school expands and thrives, and Od wanders off into the world. She is sighted so infrequently that succeeding generations of students believe she is a legend. The kings of Numis keep the magic in their kingdom under strict control and the school becomes very conservative in its teachings.

Of course, 'conservative' is not a state of affairs that will last very long in a McKillip fantasy. The School of Magic's new gardener, a teacher-wizard, a new student, a street magician, and the king's daughter combine in Od ways to shake the stodgy foundations of the school and the kingdom of Numis.

As always, McKillip's characters seem a bit dazed by life, dazed even by their own good deeds. The bad guy is only a villain-manqué and never really gets a chance to commit evil before he is swept up in the movement to bring wild magic back to the Kingdom.

Unfortunately this author's books need an honest-to-satan slime-ball villain to bring them into focus. Otherwise the reader is inclined to wander through the plot, hypnotized by McKillip's strange and beautiful settings, until the novel glides to an end and he or she says, 'Huh, did I miss something?"

Beautiful surfaces, matched by a very beautiful jacket illustration by Kinuko Y. Craft, but not much depth to "Od Magic." I'm hoping for a sequel that brings all of the characters together against a much more formidable villain. Even the wild magic comes tamely to the denouement, about as threatening as someone's collection of pet rocks.
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