Duncan Chalk is a monstrous media mogul with a vast appetite for other people’s pain. He feeds off it, and carefully nurtures it in order to feed it to the public. It is inevitable that Chalk should home in on Minner Burris, a space traveller whose body was taken apart by alien surgeons and then put back together again – differently. Burris’ pain is constant. And so is that of Lona Kelvin, used by scientists to supply eggs for 100 children and then ruthlessly discarded. Only an emotional vampire like Chalk can see the huge audience eager to watch a relationship develop between these two damaged people. And only Chalk can make it happen. First published in 1967
Deep inside a palace on the edge of the world, the orphan Nepenthe pores over books in the royal library, translating their languages and learning their secrets. At sixteen, she knows little of the outside world. But when a young mage gives Nepenthe a book that has defied translation – a book written in a language of thorns – it speaks to Nepenthe’s soul, and becomes her secret obsession. As the words escape the brambles they reveal themselves – and begin to reveal Nepenthe’s destiny …
Honor White Jackson was a human being. But his planet was not Earth, nor his time Now. His world was dominated by a giant Iron Thorn. Beyond the reach of this tower there was supposedly, nothing – except a frozen, airless desert where huge winged beasts called Amsirs roamed. The duty of Jackson’s caste was to hunt and kill the Amsir. And it was not until Jackson had made his first kill that he discovered the secret of his world. As the creature lay dying at his feet, Honor White Jackson partook of the fruit of knowledge. Forevermore he was committed to another life – and the bitter discovery of genius, cruelty and the human paradox.
Dumarest had learned in the hard school of experience and he came equipped with certain attributes. He had very fast reflexes, he carried a knife and knew how to use it, he wore travellers garb which, because of the metal mesh buried within the thermal plastic, gave him protection against the lash of a claw, the rip of thorns, the cut and thrust of edged weapons. Most important of all, he had an overriding determination to survive no matter what the cost. On Gath this wasn’t easy… (First published 1997)
Patricia A. McKillip is the author of a number of hugely acclaimed fantasies, including The Riddle-Master of Hed and its sequels, which have been compared to Gene Wolfe’s epic Book of the New Sun, and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and Ombria in Shadow, both of which won the World Fantasy Award for best novel. She has won the Mythopoeic Award three times and in 2008 was given the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement. This omnibus collects three of her later works: In the Forests of Serre, Alphabet of Thorn and The Bell at Sealey Head. IN THE FORESTS OF SERRE: In the tales of World Fantasy Award-winning author Patricia McKillip, nothing is ever as it seems. A mirror is never just a mirror; a forest is never just a forest. Here, it is a place where a witch can hide in her house of bones and a prince can bargain with his heart…where good and evil entwine and wear each others’ faces…and where a bird with feathers of fire can quench the fiercest longing… ALPHABET OF THORN: One of the most spectacular fantasists of our time, Patricia A. McKillip creates fairy tale worlds of wonder and magic. Now, she opens the page on a time and place where an orphan girl is haunted by thorns…a reluctant queen rules between sea and sky… and epics never end… THE BELL AT SEALEY HEAD: Sealey Head is a small town on the edge of the ocean, a sleepy place where everyone hears the ringing of a bell no one can see. On the outskirts of town is an impressive estate, Aislinn House, where the aged Lady Eglantyne lies dying, and where the doors sometimes open not to its own dusty rooms, but to the wild majesty of a castle full of knights and princesses.