The fulfillment of a dream.
The loss of a lifetime.
The redemption of a land.
Eiden Myr: a realm of jeweled plains where the wind keens in eerie song, of nightstone mountains veined with whispers, of dark wet woods and marshes where weird lights burn and weeping trees are older than memory. It has been protected for generations by the practice of magecraft: wordsmiths, illuminators, and binders working in triads to render castings with illuminated manuscripts. At its storm-swept head is the fastness of the highest triads—the Ennead. On this exquisitely textured canvas is painted a vivid tale of subversion and salvation.
When a young illuminator’s magelight inexplicably deserts her on the night she receives her mage’s triskele, she petitions the Ennead for healing. Instead they give her a task: to find a rogue wordsmith who has cruelly perverted their craft. Only if he is redeemed will they be able to free her magelight. Cut off from her light, she is the one mage who can get close without being twisted to his dark purposes. Soon he will have the power to destroy the Ennead; if she fails, the gentle peace of Eiden Myr will be shattered forever.
Illumination, by Terry McGarry
Tor Books, ISBN 0-312-87389-1
Jacket art by Gary Ruddell
Jacket design by Carol Russo Design
Book design by Ellen Cipriano
Map by Ellisa Mitchell
Hardcover, August 2001
Paperback, June 2002
“A wonderful new voice and a different vision.” —Robert Jordan
“Terry McGarry makes a brilliant splash of color on the fantasy landscape with Illumination. A fresh, unique take on magic by a true word artist.” —Elizabeth Haydon
“Illumination is unique, a fantasy as richly complex as the sutures of an ammonite’s shell. Quite marvelous!” —David Drake
“Ms. McGarry’s characters are most interesting and the idea of lost magic and the need for triads to work successfully intrigues the reader. This is a new branch-off from the fantasy quest which will appeal to those liking the against-all-odds tale.” —Andre Norton
“Recommended without reservation to those who take their magic—and their relationships—seriously.” —Gene Wolfe
“Terry McGarry’s Illumination (Tor) is another mages-and-magic fantasy that’s a cut above other books of the type. It is the first of a projected series, imbued with a fine sense of mysticism.” —Terri Windling, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror
“Another first novel. Another vastly superior first novel that shows a maturity of approach that most ‘veteran’ novelists don’t approach.” —John Savage
“McGarry’s first novel demonstrates a powerful skill at storytelling and a creative approach to the metaphysics of magic. Strong characters and surprising plot twists make this tale of high adventure and personal discovery a solid addition to any fantasy collection. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal
“A strong debut by a writer not afraid to subvert the dogma of magic or plumb the depths of the human soul.” —Faren Miller, Locus
“McGarry’s first novel is a beauty, with an exciting plot and characters that capture the heart.” —Paula Luedtke, Booklist
“It’s McGarry’s brilliant world-building that makes this author so noteworthy. Her world of Eiden Myr is a realm as vivid and fully realized as Feist’s Midkemia or Silverberg’s Majipoor. It is a place filled with mystery, legend, and ancient magic. … Illumination is an impressive debut novel. I’m very interested to see what this great new novelist does next.” —Paul Goat Allen, Barnes & Noble’s Explorations
“With the lines blurred between what is ‘good’ and who is ‘evil,’ the reader must delve deep into the powerful, emotional narrative. Ms. McGarry provides strong, earthy characters whom we cheer for when they lose their artificial magical constraints and reach their potential.” —Kelly Rae Cooper, Romantic Times
“Terry McGarry is a wonderful writer with the soul of a poet—a true mistress of language.” —Vera Nazarian
“What made Illumination work so well for me, where perhaps the Deryni and Dragonriders don’t anymore, is McGarry’s literary prowess. She combines the evocative prose of a Ray Bradbury or Geoff Ryman with the richness and complexity of a Dumas or Tolstoy, Orczy or Sabatini. This is a more challenging read than the average Epic Fantasy doorstop, and all the more rewarding for it. As for world-building, this is a superior example, rivaling the best in the business. Think ‘Zelazny.’ Think ‘Eddison.’ Think ‘Silverberg at his best.’ If you’re into Jordan and Goodkind, you can think about them, too. Their skill is matched here. You won’t be disappointed.” —Kurtis Roth
“Illumination is more than a coming-of-age story, it’s an intriguing tale of a land where magic reigns and chaos threatens. It’s a tale of morality, of black and white and shades of grey, and the light which can obscure the lines of differentiation. . . . Give this one a shot if you like fantasy, but are tired of the same old same old.” —Michael M. Jones, Green Man Review
“Terry McGarry’s first book is a gem, a beautifully written story of one woman’s search for truth, redemption, and identity. Her characters are complex and real, her storytelling deft and compelling. The world she has created is a fascinating place, filled with wonders and rich textures, yet utterly convincing. In a genre that too often relies on tropes and formulas, McGarry has written a book that delights and surprises at every turn. What sets her work apart, however, is the clarity and quality of her prose. Terry McGarry writes the way Yo Yo Ma plays cello, the way Tiger Woods plays golf. To open her book is to place yourself in the hands of a master wordsmith. This is a book to be savored, to be appreciated not only for its excitement and romance, but also for its language and artistry.” —David B. Coe
“. . . a challenging tale about the nature of knowledge, power and creativity. . . . McGarry slowly turns our view of her world inside-out, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next.” —Renee Stern, Talebones
“McGarry does not prop up her world with magic, making every sword have a will of its own or every ring grant omnipotence. The magic of the triad and the Ennead sits as a background, as natural as our belief in science–so much a part of everyday, and yet hardly given a thought. The magic of McGarry’s world consists of no more than song, bookbinding, and illumination, and yet the influences the magic has on the daily life of her characters is so important that the reader is compelled to see the world of Eiden Myr through their eyes. From the colors of their clothing to the their view of the lay of the land, the author thought through the ramifications of her world so well, built such believable structure and richness in detail, that the reader can almost reach out and touch the soil of Eiden Myr.” —Rob Stauffer
“It lends itself to the long read venue quite nicely, for folks looking for a story to occupy more than a fast and furious few hours of stress-paced plottings. . . . It’s a character study of a mind in the ‘making’ and our imaginations get to go on the ride as well.” —Eva Wojcik-Obert, Fantastica Daily
“By all means, take the journey to Eiden Myr!” —Books ’n’ Bytes
“Illumination is a rich and complex stand-alone epic fantasy that mesmerizes the reader. The society that Terry McGarry describes feels so real that audiences will believe she has visited that world. The characters are so complex and colorful that nobody could doubt that these people once lived, loved and laughed. Thanks to the author’s skill, we have a variation of the Atlantis legend subtly adapted for this fabulous fable.” —Harriet Klausner, BookBrowser
“Terry McGarry’s debut novel, Illumination, has an interesting, likable heroine, a magical system that’s intriguingly different, a quest that’s tangled with heroes and villains, and writing that is beautifully lyrical at times. An enjoyable read.” —Anne Bishop
“A great first fantasy novel. It has a unique approach to how magic could/should work and how important history can be in maintaining it.” —Adventures in Crime & Space
One of Library Journal’s five Best SF & Fantasy Books of 2001
Locus magazine’s Recommended Reading: 2001, First Novel
John Savage’s Award Recommendations (2001)
Nominee, Barnes & Noble Maiden Voyage Award