Some of you may be familiar with Patricia A. McKillip and some of you may not. To those who are familiar with the name, then you probably know The Riddlemaster of Hed and probably wondered if the author wrote it drunk or half-asleep. To those who do not know this masterpiece, then I advise you to read it just so I could ask you what the experience felt.
I have gracefully summarized the contents of the book for you. I emptied three ice trays while making this post, you could imagine the stress in figuring out this damn book.
Okay, we first meet a running boy who appears to be the main character of the book, but actually, he is not. He is there just to send a message, which contents the author will never share to us. The boy is quickly dismissed despite his promise as a protagonist to show us the enjoyable trade of wine and beer and our main character who is interested in them.
Morgon, our hero, is a farmer who owns a castle. He has several peasants he could scold but instead he commands his sister to do things that women ought to be doing and that is to set the dinner table. Mind you, dinner tables are a heavy task. One dinner table, at this time and age, could befit a whole neighborhood for all we know so it’s quite understandable that the sister is in bad spirits upon hearing this.
Not too long, the sister mentions a crown that leads off to an intense debate about crowns and kings, and what a fucking crown is.
“It’s a crown,” Tristan said. “I saw one in a picture in a book of Morgon’s. Kings wear them.”
Morgon’s brother suddenly punches Morgon and the reader is completely confused on what on earth is going on. Thankfully, Morgon’s sister stops the fight by dumping a bucket of milk on their heads. Thankfully, again, Morgon spares us the details of his riddle-battle against a dead person, a man called Peven, not too many months ago and his prize, a crown. We have no idea of what it means to win a crown but it seems heavy indeed when all the people you know starts punching you for keeping it under your bed.
We meet important character number two, Deth, harpist of the High One, at a ship. They talk about harps and Deth’s apparent immortality and Deth even sings a tune about Belu and Bilo. The readers are subjected to Morgon’s quick intro of his life as a nobody and the precious crown that he carelessly stashed under his bed. It appeared that someone else wanted the crown, only to discover it was taken by a complete nobody who no one knew. Now, everybody is trying to find the man who won the crown because of territorial dispute and reasons.
“It’s been under my bed,” Morgon said blankly. “The only private place in Akren…”
Deth explains the prizes Morgon gets along with the crown. Morgon shall get a lady, of course, because women almost always come hand-in-hand with crowns won from dead people. Morgon obviously wants this lady in question but he is aghast to imagine she could marry a farmer like him. At this point, the reader is aghast as well because Morgan is perhaps the richest farmer ever. He owns a fucking castle, for heaven’s sake and people call him a prince. If a farmer is called a prince, I can’t imagine what a peasant is called in these places.
Morgon visits his university and meets an old friend named Rood, who gives a slightly classist and rood (get it?) statement, because a farmer couldn’t possibly visit a friend without throwing a sack of rice on his doorstep.
“Morgon.” Rood heaved himself up, walked off the bed, trailing a wake of books behind him. He hugged Morgon, the cup in one hand, the letter in the other. “Join me. I’m celebrating. You are a stranger without your robe. But I forget: you’re a farmer now. Is that why you’re in Caithnard? Did you come over with your grain or wine or something?”
We learn that Morgon is an awesome riddle-solver back in his days and he had so much promise to answer riddles in a lifetime until he decided to be a farmer. Rood explains to Morgon, in case he had forgotten, that he aims for Peven’s crown as well so he could free his sister (the promised lady) from the Get the Crown, Take A Lady promo of the ghost. When Rood learns that his dear old pal Morgon was the one who won the crown, he screams and it literally causes an earthquake. Wizards do that.
The book skips again where Morgon is telling the
wizards riddlers masters that he won the crown and he knows shitless what to do about it. He simply wants to marry his promised lady and do his farmerly duties but no one seems to understand this. Apparently, Morgon has a three-star birthmark on his forehead and everybody knows what birthmarks mean (certainly not a prophecy). They all try to persuade Morgon to wear a robe but fails. Morgon now must set to Raederle, his supposed future wife.
As Morgon and Deth prepare their journey to Raederle, they are attacked by… nothing. But there is something but this book doesn’t explain anything so… yeah, nothing. Morgon falls off the ship and is swept to some beach. And guess what. He loses his memories! And his voice! Plus an eye!
Morgon is found and tended by a guy named Astrin. He teaches Morgon the life of a hermit though they occasionally get stabbed by wandering strangers. Sometimes, Astrin kills people but no one really minds. After a couple of wasted pages, they are paid a visit by the rulers of the land and we discover Astrin’s more noble lineage. Morgon’s memories return upon seeing a harp inside Ymris’s castle. We’re not even half of the book yet, guys. What the hell is going on?
Morgon sleeps and has this weird dream and the first thing he mentions upon waking up and seeing Deth are pigs and roofs, as if his amnesiac episode, assassination attempts and long absence couldn’t be more alarming.
The harpist put a hand on his arm. His brows were drawn. “Are you ill?”
“I don’t think so, no. Grim Oakland thinks I should get another pigherder, but Snog would die of uselessness if I took his pigs away from him. I’d better go home and fix his roof.”
Astrin strolls in and we discover that Hureau, his brother, married a doppelganger. Or a demon, I don’t know. His real wife, Eriel, died before their wedding. The details of her death is a bit abstract, like this whole book is, but she apparently murdered a bird that lead Astrin to believe that she is dead. Astrin believes that Morgon is an important person in this story. Of course, Morgon does not give a crap because he still had to fix a roof back at home. Astrin earnestly offers his help to fix the damn roof.
After sleeping some more, Morgon wakes up and goes to his magical harp. While stroking it, he is confronted by Eriel and they start to talk about each other in third-person. Arya could learn a thing or two from these guys.
“The wise man can give a name to his enemy.”
“The wise man knows he has enemies,” he said a little bitterly. “What is it? Is it the stars? Would it help to tell you that the last thing I want to do is fight you; I simply want to be left alone to rule Hed in peace.”
“Then you shouldn’t have left your land to begin weaving riddles at Caithnard. The wise man knows his own name. You don’t know my name; you don’t know your own. It’s better for me if you die that way, in ignorance.”
Eriel demands the answer to the unanswered riddle and Morgon attacks her with his harp. It probably sounded like a rock concert to Eriel. The scene skips to Morgon trying to get up and guess what:
He nodded. “It was a dream, then.”
Nothing impresses me better than a dream scene, I mean, really, you can’t get any more creative than that.
Morgon sleeps a bit more again, and I think I forgot to mention that he is high on drugs atm, then he wakes up. He announces that he thinks Eriel is trying to kill him and he’d better bat out, which is a sensible thing to do, but Deth says he still looks pretty sick. They talk about destiny and Morgon’s hero status. I have to admit that I love Morgon. While everyone believes he’s a very special human being with a special be-Jesus mission in life, Morgon just wants to farm and get laid like any normal human being.
And that’s a wraaaaap! Have you read book? If not, then you really should~ If yes, then let’s talk about it! Either way, just leave a comment below if you have any thoughts about this book~