A fantasy tale from McCloskey that fleshes out the archetypal hero’s journey with interplanetary travel, fearsome nemeses and one delightfully logical wizard.
The Crescent Knight nears the completion of his quest to the storied Far Coast. However, no sooner does he look upon the floating, magnificent House of Yeel than a winged, cat-bodied, snake-tongued beast viciously bats him off his precipice. Jymoor, a scout, tries next. Where many travelers have failed, she successfully enters the otherworldly house in the sky to request Yeel’s help for her people—and she offers herself as a sacrifice if necessary. A jabbering, self-described alchemist, Yeel only agrees to help Jymoor’s war-torn nation of Riken when he learns that enemy forces are burning their libraries. Unbeknownst to his houseguest, Yeel is a tentacled alien who wears the disguise of an elderly sorcerer. Early in the journey to Riken, Yeel neutralizes the curious keeper of harapins—one harapin besieged the Crescent Knight and many have long enforced Yeel’s home-imprisonment. When Yeel raids the keeper’s abode for artifacts, he discovers the Crescent Knight, who’s been a slave to the keeper for years. After slaying a supernatural serpent and thereby freeing its victims—ages-old Riken citizens who had turned to stone—Yeel defends himself from the Crescent Knight, who actually approached the Far Coast with a goal, not of supplication, but murder. When Yeel gives Jymoor slumber-replacement pills, she is able to tirelessly realm-hop and quickly refine her battle skills. These traits add interest for the reader. The entire party reaches Riken without a single lapse into the tedium of the cookie-cutter quests of fantasy. Having arrived, Jymoor introduces Yeel to the skeptical King Aruscetar and helps Yeel convince the king that an interrealm alliance is expedient to Riken’s freedom. Again calling on the structural and stylistic creativity that kept the arduous road trip to Riken engaging, McCloskey invigorates the closing three-pronged battle sequence with elements of intrigue, humor and surprise.
A fairy tale for discerning adults who appreciate solid story structure, compelling human characters and inventive fantasy.