The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Peter S. Beagle’s The Innkeeper’s Song is a fantasy novel that follows the exploits of a number of characters who attempt to assist an old, dying wizard (called “The Man Who Laughs,” “My Friend,” and “Tafiya”) as he engages in a duel of sorcery with his most talented student, Arshadin. The danger of this battle of sorcery lies in the fact that if the dying wizard fails to win, he will be transformed into a grigaath, a seemingly omnipotent, evil entity who will kill anything in his path. Even though the old wizard is extremely powerful, Arshadin’s powers are at least equal to his, and the old wizard can barely ward off Arshadin’s incessant attacks.

The major characters include two of the old wizards friends, Lal and Nyateneri. Lal is a dark-skinned woman who excels both in storytelling and in battle. Nyateneri is a tall, mysterious woman who appears to be a refugee from a fanatical monastic order. Along with Nyateneri comes a fox who possesses the magical capability of shape-shifting into the form of an old man. Before Lal and Nyateneri meet on the road, Lal comes across a dead woman, Lukassa, who has just drowned in a river. Lal resurrects Lukassa and takes her along on the trek to find the dying wizard. Another character, Lukassas fiancé, Tikat, pursues Lal, Lukassa, and Nyateneri all the way to The Gaff and Slasher.

At the inn, these wayfarers meet Karsh, the bellowing, bullying proprietor, as well as Rosseth,...

(The entire section is 525 words.)