(1951- ) US writer, first notable for her essay "The Night Journey Motif in 20th Century English Fantasy" (Riverside Quarterly 1977) (see Night Journey). Her subsequent career has been taken up with the Kencyrath sequence: God Stalk (1982), Dark of the Moon (1985) – these two assembled as Chronicles of the Kencyrath (omni 1988 UK) – Bones (1993 chap), a previously unpublished sequence from God Stalk, Child of Darkness (1993 chap) and Seeker's Mask (1994). Further novels are projected, as is a volume of linked short fiction.
The protagonist is one of the more interesting in implicitly feminist Revisionist Fantasy, a classic Accursed Wanderer and Obsessed Seeker whose search for her own identity and whose growth towards status as champion of her people, the Kencyrath, against a Dark Lord, are constantly trammelled by sexism (see Gender). For much of the first book, she is active in two roles, as apprentice (in Gender Disguise) in the Thieves' Guild and as dancer in an Inn. Her subsequent journeys regularly involve her in conflict with the assumption universally made by her own people and others that she belongs in purdah, learning womanly arts. Her people – a subrace of magically gifted aristocrats, another of stolid yeomanry and a largely lost group of wise giant Cats – have fled from one Alternate World to another, creating Polders there. Their hereditary foe, Perimal Darkling, is at once a Dark Lord and a personified process of Thinning and Debasement.
PCH is among the most aware fantasy writers of the tropes and topoi of the genre and the extent to which the combination of story modules can of itself generate Story. [RK]
Patricia Christine Hodgell