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In the Forests of Serre

In the Forests of Serre by Patricia A. McKillip

Prince Ronan is being forcibly removed back to his father's castles, from the battles where he had been trying to kill himself since the death of his wife and infant child.  He accidentally tramples on the white hen of the witch Brume, and when her requests for recompense are too dangerous, she curses him to leave his father's castle and never find his way back until he finds her again.  After he is informed that he is marrying again, he sees a firebird and sets out to follow it in the enchanted forests of Serre.

Euan is a scribe,  One day, a little before Ronan's return, the wizard visits where he works, and when Euan spills ink over his work, the wizard, Unciel, conjures it away and chooses Euan to copy his stories for him, which ensures that he is there when the king comes for help with the Princess Sidonie, who is being sent to marry Ronan because the alternative is conquest.Unciel sends the wizard Gyre with her, because Gyre owes him a favor after Unciel saved him from his own folly with trying to steal the heart of a monster.  The resultant company stumbles on Ronan, unwittingly, as he goes through the forest after the firebird.

And this weaves into a tale of magic and sorcery, of Unciel's attempting to overcome weakness from a bitter battle, hearts outside of bodies, toads and frogs and foxes, attempts at magical theft, and rescues, and many adventures in enchanted forests.
Tags: fiction reviews: high fantasy, patricia a. mckillip
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