A fantastic tale of music and magic and revenge.
Gripping fantasy novel with great descriptions and characterization.
Wow. It is rare to read a book that verges on perfect but more often than not, that book will be one by McKillip. Song for the Basilisk is definitely one of her best. In a pseudo-Renaissance setting, rivalry flares into violence, and House Berylon, whose symbol is the basilisk, overthrows and slaughters House Tormalyne, whose symbol is the griffin. However, unbeknownst to the Basilisk, the heir to House Tormalyne survives. His relatives find him, and secretly send the boy to a remote island music school, renaming him Caladrius, the bird whose song means death. Traumatized by his experience, the boy does not remember his heritage, and grows up with no desire to leave the island. He finds love, and has a son. But when, after years, both woman and son grow restless with his stay-at-home ways, and leave for the mainland, he begins to remember that he is Griffin Tormalyne and destiny (or a desire simply for revenge) draws him back to House Berylon, where he finds a place as a music librarian, cataloguing the items stolen from Tormalyne. His son also finds himself there and the musician and teacher Giulia begins to suspect there is more to these people than she might have guessed, as plots and intimations of revolution begin to swirl
McKillips writing is deeply symbolic and poetically beautiful, but always readable and also not without humor.