Things I remember:

  • One of the characters was a very very old wizard (magician?) who was married to a much younger woman. I think he had some kind of award that was "the Void of Something"?
  • She came from a culture with headhunting and had a collection of skulls. With the right drumming, she could communicate with the souls/spirits still attached to those skulls. I think one of them was her "best enemy". I seem to recall that she came from a culture where women had multiple husbands - I think she might have had several husbands before, but now there's just Old Wizard
  • There were at least two characters who came from a jungle where drumming was used for communication. I vaguely remember a boy and a girl who were maybe coupling off and might have been assuming a parental role for some other kids?
  • Their culture worshipped these giant trees and sacrificed people to them
  • It turned out that the people sacrificed to the trees were wrapped in some kind of cocoon and attached to the insides of the trees, still alive (I found this SO DISTURBING)
  • The Old Wizard and his wife were looking for a lost library or civilization or something which turned out to be in the jungle
  • They traveled in some kind of flying boat/ship, but I think the trees caused them to crash?
  • I remember that the Old Wizard dies at the end
  • It may have been the second book in a series
  • I think it was written by a woman
  • I think I read it somewhere between 1999 and 2006
  • 1
    While almost certainly not the answer, the first thing I thought of was Orson Scott Card's "Speaker for the Dead". No wizards involved, but people were (apparently) sacrificed to trees, and the trees involving still-living entities was an important part of the story (leaving it vague to minimize spoilers).
    – RDFozz
    Jul 20 '17 at 17:30
  • Not answered, so another (unlikely) option: Jack Vance's Son of the Tree. May 6 '19 at 4:51

Try the Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart, it has the elements you've described but not quite the way you've described, there's the Bloodoaks which eat people and a tribe that worships them, there's a race that makes cocoons which they hang from trees and live in them, there are flying ships that all crash because of a plague, there are several groups who take heads or other body parts and there at least one quest for forgotten things in the forest per book. It's a series of about nine main books with some attendant story collections from the same world.


That seems like one of the books in Xanth series, but there are so many and I might have mixed them together. There are man-eating trees and Magicians.

Each human character in Xanth is born with a unique magical ability, called a talent. With the exception of the curse fiends, the winged centaurs, and the child Surprise Golem (Daughter of Rapunzel and Grundy Golem), these abilities never repeat exactly in individuals throughout the entire history of Xanth (although nearly identical talents show up on occasion.) Though many talents are limited in scope (called the "spot-on-a-wall" variety), the series focuses mainly on individuals with "Magician" caliber abilities (one of the criteria for serving as King of Xanth).

In addition to the human characters, Xanth is populated by centaurs, demons, dragons, fauns, gargoyles, goblins, golems, harpies, merfolk, naga, nymphs, ogres, zombies, curse fiends, and other fictional beasts. Though initially introduced as obstacles to the human characters, some individuals from those groups become main characters in later books of the series.

Source: Wikipedia article for Xanth

  • 1
    While the Xanth books contain some interesting treatment of "magic as normal", they certainly don't fit the description in the question.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jul 27 '17 at 16:50

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