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