cover image The Innkeeper's Song

The Innkeeper's Song

Peter S. Beagle. Roc, $20 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-451-45288-7

In a multifaceted fantasy told from various points of view, Beagle ( The Last Unicorn ) plumbs the nature of life, death and love. When three strange women (one black, one brown, one white) arrive at a wayside inn called The Gaff and Slasher, the innkeeper Karsh takes them in much against his better judgment. Two of the women--Lal, a fabled adventurer, and Nyateneri--are searching for the powerful magician who was once their mentor and who has summoned the women to save him from destruction and worse at the hands of his most powerful pupil, Arshadin. The third, Lukassa, is a village girl whom Lal resurrected after she drowned and whose childhood love, Tikat, pursues the three, intent on regaining her. When these blighted souls converge on the inn, life there is forever changed as powerful forces wage ungodly battle for possession of the magician's soul. In elegant yet simple prose Beagle illuminates the shifting relationships among the various major and minor players (including an irascible shape-changing fox) who people this affecting tale. (Nov.)