R.I.P. II Challenge #1
Aubrey’s great desire is to learn as much about the art of wizardry as he can. To that end, his teacher Cyril dispatches him to the famous shape-changer Glyrenden, to learn how to alter his form at will. But when Glyrenden finally returns to his dust-laden castle in the forest he seems disinclined to teach Aubrey much of anything, and frequently leaves him to his own devices while he travels the kingdom in the service of wealthy patrons. During these times, he is left alone save for his master’s strange servants and equally odd wife. Lilith puzzles him: she obviously dislikes her adoring husband, speaks little, barely eats, never shows any sign of emotion and is petrified of fire. She is not like other women and is strangely insistent on this fact. Long after he has given up on being taught what he wants to know, and joined the other residents in dreading Glyrenden’s return, Aubrey stays that he might work out why she is so different to anyone else, and why she will not leave. For Aubrey is in love with the wife of another man - of a powerful wizard he knows will crush him if given half a chance.
It’s a shame I have so much else to do and read, otherwise I’d be tempted to read this again before returning it to the library. Once Lilith’s secret was revealed a lot of things made sense, and I’m sure there were more clues which I overlooked. The whole thing carried the air of an ancient legend, from the setting at some indeterminate time in the past in an unspecified location to the epilogue giving the alternate theories of what had happened afterwards. At first I thought it was some version of England, since Aubrey’s former master resided at a place called Southport; but further geographical references dispelled that notion. Aubrey was a great characters; it was refreshing to meet a wizard and scholar who didn’t live for dusty tomes and magical experiments, but loved getting about and socialising. I also liked the way he didn’t wait around for the answers to be provided by other people, but actively went out to try things for himself. Although he is initially enthralled by Glyrenden, it doesn’t take him long to share the dislike of him held by the other members of the household. The faintly gothic atmosphere made it perfect for the R.I.P. 2 challenge, just as I’d hoped; even the setting was perilous, with the constant threat of being entangled in ivy or suffocated by dust. (Made me feel much better about my own domestic skills - or lack thereof.)
There was only one problem with this book: I wanted more!