At seventeen, scholarly Paula embarks on an adventure a trip to Istanbul with her merchant father, Teodor, to purchase an ancient artefact known as Cybele's Gift. Paula's fervent wish to rediscover the mysterious Other Kingdom, the realm she and her sisters visited as children, has been replaced by a more practical ambition: to become a trader in ...
At seventeen, scholarly Paula embarks on an adventure a trip to Istanbul with her merchant father, Teodor, to purchase an ancient artefact known as Cybele's Gift. Paula's fervent wish to rediscover the mysterious Other Kingdom, the realm she and her sisters visited as children, has been replaced by a more practical ambition: to become a trader in books and manuscripts. But the ways of the Other Kingdom are never predictable. Clues and whispers soon convince Paula that she has been set a magical quest and that the person laying the trail may be her lost sister Tati. Competition for Cybele's Gift is fierce, and Paula and Teodor soon find themselves in deadly danger in the great Ottoman city. Their protector against worldly perils is their hired guard, Stoyan, a young man with secrets of his own. When the artefact is finally unveiled, Paula finds herself on a wild chase by sea and land, accompanied by an unlikely pair of companions in adventure. Puzzles, riddles, tests of strength and of loyalty lie before them, and the price of failure is death. Along the way, there are lessons to be learned in wisdom, trust and love.
Let me begin by saying that for me, nothing can ever compare to Marillier's glorious book: Daughter of the Forest. It is my favorite story and I believe Marilliers greatest work. That being said, this book enchanted me. My personal preference leads me to lengthy novels of adventure, romance, and fantasy of epic proportions. So with a nasty cold and no expectations, I cuddled up with Cybele's Secret, expecting an enjoyable read but nothing more. My brother once asked me this question: If you could live out a book, being its main character, and once the book was finished, return back to your reality, what book would you choose?
I have thought on this question for a long time. At first I thought it would be easy. It wasn't, for in most of my favorite books, the protagonist endures things I would never wish too. But then I read Cybele's Secret. Silly, I know, and call it girlish fantasy, but this story is astoundingly akin to my daydreams and fantasies as a young girl. I remember making up stories of being captured by pirates or opening a portal to another land full of fair folk. Reading Cybele's Secret made me feel 12 years old again. As soon as I finished the last page, I was eager to open the book up and read it once more. Warm and nostalgic. Certainly a favorite.
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