Patricia McKillip is a writer of beautifully crafted words. She is a story teller who does not write for her readers, but for the sake of the story, if that makes any sense. And because the story has such a life of its own, sometimes the reader gets a tad confused (ie, a lot of her books have confused the heck out of me, although not as much as Diana Wynne Jones' Fire and Hemlock). But the rich, dense, imaginings she offers are worth the confusion. I especially love The Cygnet and the Firebird, which I think is much the stronger of the two books, possibly because I was less confused. This one should perhaps be read first if the reader is Doubtful about the whole thing. It has some of the most beautiful descriptions of dragons I know of, and my favorite two pages of romance in a fantasy book (so much nicer to read than all the torid romance in the recently read fourth book of the travelling pants (see below)).