Last night, I began reading Patricia A. McKillip’s The Throme of the Erril of Sherill and I went to bed enchanted.
Selecting a New Book
I had just finished an author biography the previous day, so it was time to select a new book. I consulted my reading list. Ah. Time for a fantasy. The first book I picked up was not The Throme of the Erril of Sherill. It was however, the next book behind the bookmark on my fantasy shelf. Delighted to be reading a fantasy, I sat down to enjoy.
Within five pages, I had decided this was not the book for me. So disappointing, but that did not mean I couldn’t read a fantasy. Back to the bookshelves I went, and McKillip’s The Throme of the Erril of Sherill was next in line.
I have been enjoying Patricia McKillip’s books for more years than I am willing to confess. Suffice it to say, I started out with the Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy and went on from there. However, somewhere along the way I had bypassed The Throme of the Erril of Sherill.
Within the first three sentences, I knew this book would be a delight. McKillip begins:
The Erril of Sherill wrote a Throme. It was a deep Throme, and a dark, haunting, lovely Throme, a wild, special, sweet Throme made of the treasure of words in his deep heart. He wrote it long ago, in another world, a vaguely singing, boundariless land that did not exist within the kingdom of Magnus Thrall, King of Everywhere. The King had Cnites to come and go for him, and churttels to plant and harvest for him, but no Cnite had ever looked up into the winking morning sky and seen Sherill, and no churttel had ever looked at the rich clods of earth between his boots and seen the Erril’s world. Yet the Erril, long, long, ago wrote a Throme of singular and unsurpassed beauty, somewhere in his own land called Sherill, and the dark Kind of Everywhere desired that Throme.
At first, it may strike you as odd that this captivated me, considering its weird, undefined words (Throme, Sherill, Cnites, and churttels) and repetitions, and yet, it was the very first words and repetitions that enthralled me.
My first thought was, “Jabberwocky!” It reminded me of Lewis Carrol‘s famous nonsense poem. The most obvious connection was the made-up words, however that was not all.
Although written as prose, this first paragraph is quite poetic. How?
First, it’s in the use of internal rhyme, for example, “Erril of Sherril.”
Furthermore, Mckillip uses repetition in a poetic way: “It was a deep Throme, and a dark, haunting, lovely Throme, a wild, special, sweet Throme made of the treasure of words in his deep heart.”
McKillip also employs alliteration (my particular favorite!): “a wild, special, sweet Throme…” The “wild,” “special,” and “sweet” just whisper to me like someone telling me a fantastic secret.
Furthermore, she did all this with complete confidence and authority, trusting her readers to understand and join in the journey.
And of course, there was the content itself:
- The mysterious, yet decidedly haunting and musical Throme
- The ideas of a boundriless land and a land literally named Everywhere
- The curious citizens of Everywhere, Cnites and churttles, who have never seen Sherill
- And, of course, the “dark” King Magnus, who desires the Throme.
The stage is set for a magical adventure.
I only read Chapter One last night, because it was a work night, and I am still recovering from a cold and needed rest, but, WOW, I am looking forward to reading more tonight.
Have you ever read a novel or short story that cast its spell over you with the very first words? Please use the comment space below to share the title and author, and the reasons it instantly grabbed hold of you.
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