[book report] Prince of the Godborn

Geraldine Harris's Prince of the Godborn is the first book of the YA fantasy series called The Seven Citadels Quartet.  While it was out of print for many years, it's currently available from Amazon.  (Sadly, the ebook options appear to have vanished.  Also, the covers are atrocious; I assure you that the books themselves are amazing.)  I discovered this series not with this first book but with the second, Children of the Wind, which captivated me when I found it in the public library in Houston.  While I couldn't follow all the ins and outs of the plot--I was somewhere in 5th or 6th grade--I was captivated, and determined to find the rest of the series.  Years would pass before I tracked it all down, and I have never regretted it.  For a while I used to collect sets from used bookstores so I could give them away.  To this day, the Seven Citadels remains my favorite fantasy series of all time.

Prince of the Godborn opens with the titular Godborn, rulers of the golden land of Galkis, in decline.  The Emperor has neglected his duties ever since the death of one of his beloved wives, Queen Taana, brought a slave from distant Erandachu.  His children squabble over power and betray the trust of their mystical powers, handed down from a god-ancestor, Zeldin the Gentle.  Now the outside forces threaten Galkis as well.  But there may yet be hope: Galkis's scriptures speak of a savior who may be found behind seven doors locked by seven keys.

The Emperor's son by Taana, spoiled Kerish-lo-Taan, seems to be an unlikely choice to quest for this savior.  But he is the best available.  And he has, at least for the moment, the loyalty of his half-brother Forollkin, a warrior born to one of the Emperor's concubines.

Still, the quest will be more difficult than they realize.  For each of the seven keys is held by one of the world's most powerful sorcerers, and the key is what makes each sorcerer immortal.  Kerish will have to be persuasive indeed to get them to relinquish their keys.  And more dangerous than the perils of the foreign lands they will have to travel to are the flaws that they bring with them.

I don't think I can really do this series justice.  Harris is an archaeologist with a deep sense of culture and time.  The nature of the savior is probably obvious to an adult reader; several years ago when I tried to get my husband to read this book, he figured it out immediately and quit.  But it really is about the journey, and the beautiful imagery, and the incredible characters, the best of whom is probably Kerish and Forollkin's sharp-tongued, ugly traveling companion Gidjabolgo, only introduced at the very end of this volume.  I try to reread this series every year; it's that important to me.

I hope any Americans among you had a great Thanksgiving.  Thank you for reading and for all your support, lovely patrons!