In The Three Novels That Make Up The Fionavar Tapestry Trilogy Collected In This Omnibus Edition The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, And The Darkest Road , Five University Of Toronto Students Find Themselves Transported To A Magical Land To Do Battle With The Forces Of Evil At A Celtic Conference, Kimberley, Kevin, Jennifer, Dave, And Paul Meet Wizard Loren Silvercloak Returning With Him To The Magical Kingdom Of Fionavar To Attend A Festival, They Soon Discover That They Are Being Drawn Into The Conflict Between The Dark And The Light As Unraveller Rakoth Maugrim Breaks Free Of His Mountain Prison And Threatens The Continued Existence Of Fionavar They Join Mages, Elves, Dwarves, And The Forces Of The High King Of Brennin To Do Battle With Maugrim, Where Kay S Imaginative Powers As A World Builder Come To The Fore He Stunningly Weaves Arthurian Legends Into The Fluid Mix Of Celtic, Nordic, And Teutonic, Creating A Grand Fantasy That Sweeps Readers Into A Heroic Struggle That The Author Makes All The Memorable Because Of The Tributes He Pays To Past Masters The Trilogy Is A Grand Homage To JRR Tolkien S The Lord Of The Rings, But While The Echoes Of Tolkien S Masterwork Are Very Real, The Books Offer The Wonderful Taste Of A New Fantasy Writer Cutting His Teeth At The Foot Of A Master Kay Has A Very Real Connection To Tolkien As Christopher Tolkien S Assistant, Kay Was Invaluable In Helping To Wrestle Tolkien S Posthumous The Silmarillion Into Shape For Publication Kay Is Undoubtedly One Of The Canadian Masters Of High Fantasy, And The Fionavar Tapestry Is One Of His Most Enduring Works Readers, However, Should Also Check Out Kay S Tigana, A Song For Arbonne, The Lions Of Al Rassan, And The Sarantine Mosaic To Truly Experience A Master At WorkJeffrey Canton At first glance, this trilogy seems to be nothing than another Tolkien clone However, the author surpasses Tolkien on a number of points Firstly, the characters in this tale are three dimensional with real feelings and conflicts Secondly, the author s ability to make you feel alongside with the characters has touched me perhaps so than any other series I confess that I teared up at several points throughout the tale which is a rare occurrence for me The author s writing style, like Tolkien, is very poetic Lastly, the story itself is complex and feels real all the way around Good doesn t always triumph, and when it does it is laced with sorrow in this tale A great, if not under hyped, read. This is one of those times where borrowing the omnibus edition from the library because it s easier to get all three books that way is a bad idea I felt compelled to read the entire trilogy as a result, when I knew I should just stop after the first book The Summer Tree was painful The Wandering Fire was brutal I blacked out sometime near the beginning of The Darkest Road, so I can only assume that it was slightly better than the first two but not enough to redeem the trilogy.In case you haven t figured it out, I did not like The Fionavar Tapestry Fate dictates that I now compare it unfavourably to The Lord of the Rings, call it clich d, and consign it to the dustheap of subjectivity There are two problems with this tactic Firstly, I have only read The Lord of the Rings once, almost nine years ago My memory of the actual book, and not the mythical status it inhabits, is hazy, and I was very impressionable in grade six Secondly, even if I had just finished an exhaustive degree in LOTRology and re read that trilogy prior to reading this one, I would be in no better position As fans of The Fionavar Tapestry rightly point out, clich d fantasy is not necessarily bad fantasy It s difficult, and not always desirable, to be original in fantasy no less than in any genre And there are many heavily clich d fantasy series that I do like, so to take this tactic would be hypocritical No, I must do something infinitely harsher.I shall compare The Fionavar Tapestry unfavourably withThe Briar King , a book which I called, formulaic fantasy at its most derivative Nevertheless, there were tiny, inscrutable angels on the heads of pins moments in The Briar King where I thought the book might improve.Not so with The Summer Tree The characters here are flat They change, but not in any realistic sense of the word instead, the book takes them and forces them into new moulds as the plot requires Upon arriving in Fionavar, the five protagonists from our world quickly assimilate into the bizarre medieval fantasy land that is somehow the true world of which all other worlds are a reflection Kim just decides that, yeah, she s going to be a Seer Kevin hangs out with the Prince and his boys Paul is depressed and so naturally goes to hang himself on a tree but then gets resurrected and becomes a moody not quite powerful person Dave s mad basketball skillz automatically translate into mad axe wielding skillz Jennifer gets raped by the Dark Lord and his Dwarf minion because the Dark Lord is horny after spending 1000 years beneath a mountain, even though he knows that if he has a son it will be his undoing apparently the true world has no contraceptives But it s OK, because Jennifer is actually Guinevere and will spend the next two books randomly having flashes of insight that tell her exactly what to do to get out of trouble Oh wait, that happens to all the characters.I levelled this charge against The Briar King, and it resurfaces in The Fionavar Tapestry to much debilitating an effect Whenever one of the protagonists gets in a tight enough spot that they might not make it, something inexplicable happens to save them None of the conflicts faced by the main characters feel compelling because none feel dangerous.Few things annoy me than when a book puts its protagonists in mortal danger only for a god to suddenly come along and save them, or for one of the protagonists to realize how to use his or her untapped power, or for one of them to simply stand up and say, Dude, no I m, like, Lord of the Summer Tree, so you, like, can t do that to me Once or twice is fine, because this is fantasy after all But these deus ex machina rescues are routine in Fionavar, even though the gods aren t supposed to interfere and love to say, Oh, I m going to pay the price for this Related to this problem is the mutability of the main characters powers responsibilities identities I picked on Paul, Lord of the DanceSummer Tree, above for a reason he is the paradigm case Out of all of them, his powers are the least well defined and hence the most subject to authorial abuse or licence if we want to be generous here It s not that I oppose to taking the reader on a journey with the character as he comes into his power I just oppose introducing a serious threat only to have a new power appear to beat it back That doesn t even count the random threats the manifest from time to time, such as Fordaetha of R k, Ice Queen of the Barrens, who shows up in a tavern for one scene so that Paul can banish her There are so many extraneous mythological elements to Fionavar that it makes my head spin.The trouble is, I don t know who any of these people are I never do find that out Even as some of them, like Jennifer, discover past identities or, like Kevin, destinies involving sacrifice, the only sense of difference they manifest is that they suddenly know what to do and tend to speak in highly stilted, formal language Jennifer in particular tends to inhabit the Guinevere persona infrequently, and when she does, her diction suddenly switches gears Yet it s the former phenomenon, this sense of knowing that Paul has when he sees Fordaetha or Kim when she decides to help Aileron, that undermines the entire story If the characters just know what to do, because it s part of their destiny or because they re fighting their destiny, the book becomes boring Crystal dragon Psshaw Kim knows what to do about it Spawn of the Dark Lord might go over to his father No problem Jennifer knows what to do Kevin feeling out of place because he s not getting horny on Maidalan, the orgiastic festival of the Priestesses of Dana Don t worry, Kevin knows how to find a sacred grove and knows he must sacrifice himself to the goddess there It s a good thing he did, because I didn t know this Foreshadowing should be used sparingly, but it should be used.Speaking of Maidalan, the women in this book are Promiscuous with a capital P I m not a prude lowercase P nor a Puritan uppercase this time I just noticed that a large percentage of the unmarried female characters in this book sleep around, and that in general the various societies of Fionavar seem to condone this After a hunt in the camp of a band of the Dalrei, Dave willingly entertains the many women who visit him over the night And, of course, the religion over which female priests of Dana preside requires an orgy festival called Maidalan, where men get irresistibly aroused and some of the priestesses emerge from the temple That is than clich d that is just stereotypical.It doesn t help, either, that Kay insists on referring to such acts as making love and lovemaking Though a handy euphemism, it also connotes feelings that aren t really present on the part of most of the parties involved in these acts in The Fionavar Tapestry This is a symptom of the stilted language that pervades all three books Remaining ever so true to the high fantasy form, Kay ensures that his language, both in description and dialogue, is formal and poetic in diction and tone This can, and did, get annoying after a while, but I suppose it s a valid stylistic choice However, all of the characters, even the main characters, who began the story living in Toronto, talk like this And that is a problem, because it means that the individual characters lack their own voices, further hindering my futile attempts to connect and empathize to any of them The Fionavar Tapestry is 774 pages of the same person talking, albeit through different mouthpieces.When there are flaws in a tapestry, do you blame the thread or the loom Neither, of course you blame the weaver It matters not which clich s one uses but how one weaves them Despair not, gentle reader I do have one compliment to pay The Fionavar Tapestry it would make a very good 774 page public service announcement about why you shouldn t take up a mage on his offer to transport you and four of your friends to another world simply so you can be guests at a festival This will inevitably a not be the whole truth of the matter, and in fact pitch you into the middle of the resurgence of a millennium old struggle between good and evil, and b void the warranty on your smartphone. I will only rarely write a review, but for this I will I love books like treasured friends, so I prefer to accept the enjoyment they give me without analyzing them too closely I love all kinds of books, but the ones that hold the most special place in my heart are the kind where people struggle against a seemingly insurmountable evil and yet find a way through to the light.The Fionavar Tapestry is such a story It is told with such majesty and grace that any description I give here would fall so far short that I won t even try Instead I will say that I am going to find a second set of these books so that when I have worn my current copies out from numerous re readings, I have another set to fall back on I prefer reading actual books to electronic versions, but I will purchase the electronic versions also so that I have another fall back option Finally, I will search out audio books for this wonderful trilogy so that when I am old and grey and if my eyesight has failed me, I will still be able to enjoy this amazing story I truly think I would weep if this story was lost to me.I have found a lot of gems through GoodReads, but this is the best by far So thank you to the people at GoodReads for making this App, thanks to my sister for finding it the App and the books , and thanks to one of the best reviewers, Stephen, for praising it so highly that we took notice and read them My most heart felt thanks to the author, Mr Guy Gavriel Kay, for creating a world I would want to live in if I could Brightly woven indeed An incredibly epic tale Kay is a natural storyteller and he shows it in this tale There are so many facets to this story and Kay manages to balance them all and keep them active and interesting With all the various situations occurring and escalating, Kay manages to keep the story moving forward in such a way that the excitement escalates As a reader, I found myself drawn into the world of Fionavar and its struggles, in its people and their lives Good doesn t always win a win isn t always without bitter sweet elements The story rates 5 The writing though is early Kay and it shows There are flaws and they do distract from the reading The language is very flowery and the conversations are stilted, using somewhat archaic language our 5 heroes are from modern times, so it seems awkward However, by the third book, Kay has grown as a writer and these flaws start to disappear it s interesting to see the change between the second and third book in terms of character development, language and impact In the first two books, the characters are somewhat flat in that with all that s happening to them they feel no surprise or wonder or amazement They are faced with out worldly experiences and yet they aren t surprised, they just know what needs knowing as the situation arises But by the third book Kay has learned to bring depth to his characters They grow, they see the wonder of what s happening and they aren t so sure of themselves any they feel for those the world around them With the new depth of the characters comes deeper, significant, conversation and situations Kay hones his story well and brings all the elements together in a phenomenal way There s a lot of repetition in regards to the roles each character plays ie Paul Twiceborn , the Seer and constant references to The Weaver It does perhaps keep these roles in the forefront but it can get somewhat tedious although the magical implications of The Weaver and the tapestry and the interconnections are central and relevant and add a mystic that s undeniable All in all, a highly recommended book but be aware of some flaws, especially in the beginning of the tale Kay s style has a poetic and mystical feel to it and he manages to pull this trilogy together and tell a marvellous tale The Summer TreeA decent story of 5 people transported to a mystical land of legend and magic at a time when all hell is about to break loose They seem to unquestionably accept their situations There s no wonder at what s happening, at what they re seeing or experiencing The Wandering FireWell, if there s a myth or legend, it s added to this novel The story is a pretty decent one, though It s interesting just not magical or wonderous There s a lot of unnecessary sex not that sex is unnecessary but this is casual, non meaningful sex where the participants feel gratitude afterwards and nothing , which makes the book seem a bit juvenile The Darkest RoadWow What a turn around Kay manages to bring it all home in a seamless and awesome way The characters gain depth, they gain feeling and a sense of awe and wonder, the story pulls together in a multi layered and intricate telling that keeps the reader in suspense This is an awesome ending to this tale I m sad on many levels for the ending of this trilogy and glad I read it The tapestry is woven as it is meant to be woven with all its colours and textures. The Fionavar Tapestry is among the dwindling numbers of portal fantasy stories I can t help but feel that if people read it, then this particular sub genre would make a roaring comeback beyond the realm of fanfiction Literary, expertly crafted mythology and worldbuilding, and that incredible Kay ability to create a host of beautiful characters have made for a series that may be as dear to me now as Lord of the Rings.University of Toronto students Kim, Kevin, Jennifer, Paul, and Dave all attend a lecture by Lorenzo Marcus and find themselves invited for a private drink with the mysterious academic and his assistant Marcus wastes little time in revealing himself as a mage named Loren Silvercloak from another realm Fionavar, the first world created by the Weaver who has been sent to collect willing travellers from our world to attend an auspicious anniversary of the Kingdom of Paras Derval in Fionavar Kim, Kevin, Jennifer, Paul, and Dave agree in quite short order their few qualms explained away by Marcus or by each other There is little time spent with these characters in their own world, and the reader is destined to learn about them in the grand and unfamiliar world of Fionavar.Kim, Kevin, Jennifer, Paul, and Dave are held together by varying degrees of friendship Kim and Jennifer are close friends and roommates Kevin and Paul are close, but there has clearly been some recent tear to their relationship that they are both still navigating And Dave feels himself the outsider in any group, including his own family These relationships continue even in the wild adventures they find in Fionavar, and strengthen, morph, and break on deeply personal levels.A major point of my admiration for Kay is that he has always created stories that have an epic scope, but with intensely personal stakes In the overwhelming battle between Light and Dark, it s individual happiness any reader of Kay s works becomes most attached to I never just want the world as a whole to survive I want Kim to find some solace in the burden of her destiny, I want Kevin to find someone who will be as unfailingly kind to him as he is to everyone else, I want Dave to find somewhere to call home I want to give Paul a hug And I feel completely emotionally unequipped to give Jennifer any sort of comfort for the multitude of pains she has faced This caring character creation doesn t end at our fellow earthlings A whole cast of good and strong and brave characters bloom from all the turnings that befall Fionavar, a fellowship of mages, princes, dwarves, Elf like lios alfar, horse lords, and demi gods.It is no surprise that Loren s selection of his earthly travellers was far from random Among them are destinies that the realm of Fionavar desperately needs Despite the celebrations at hand, Kim, Kevin, Jennifer, Paul, and Dave discover a world on the brink of not only drought and strife, but a darkness that has not been known there in over a thousand years A darkness that could threaten all of the Weaver s creations, including their own world.Spirituality, romance, friendship, and bravery have as much a pull on the characters as destiny and war, often with painful dilemmas to be navigated every fortunate turn of the tide comes with a price While I certainly enjoy the occasional piece of grimdark fiction, it s the goodness of characters that often has the biggest effect on me I like having someone to root for, characters to care about not just in spite of their faults and their transgressions, but because they are good people trying to do the right things to fix their broken relationships, offer help where it is needed, and triumph over evil.I don t mean for this to descend into the tired comparison of this book is like Lord of the Rings because discussion, but Kay was an editor for The Silmarillion, so I think if any author bears comparing to Tolkien, it s Kay And he s one of the few fantasy authors who doesn t suffer in the comparison The Fionavar Tapestry is about a world facing a battle of good and evil, but it s also about the individuals who find themselves being drawn deeper into that fight than they may have ever imagined A king stepping out of exile to claim his destiny not only for his ambition, but for the people who need someone to follow Immortal beings of light facing what it means to be part of the world of mortal men, to not flee for their own protection, but to stand shoulder to shoulder and fight Ordinary people stepping forward into terrible and dangerous positions just because it was the right thing to do.Any of this sound familiar And for all the feelings Lord of the Rings gave me, The Fionavar Tapestry gave me tenfold There s an extra twist of the knife to a few of Tolkien s painful themes, and Kay is much ruthless I word I hesitate to use, since the heartbreaking moments of Fionavar are far from manipulative, but there are a lot of heartbreaking moments I cried twice, and was left in shock many times yet the moments that perhaps hurt the most were the ones that seemed inevitable, long roads that could have only ended in tragedy.Portal fantasy is one of those things that, as a longtime fantasy lover, I have practiced in my head since I was eight years old I wanted to insert myself into Jim Henson s Labyrinth I wanted to go to Middle Earth I still hope that every time I visit an old house I might find an inauspicious wardrobe that is not what it seems The Fionavar Tapestry was everything I could have wanted in an adult weaving of these childhood fantasies.Read book reviews on my blog This is a great read a totally consuming fantasy novel with all the typical light against dark themes The creativity in this book lies less in its newness but rather in its skilled borrowing and weaving Let s be straight here Kay knew how much he was borrowing from Tolkein and I think the matching arcs of the books were quite intentional But like some of the best folk music, I cannot help but love when a familiar story is enriched by a new kind of telling one that adds a different perspective We ve been telling these kinds of stories as long as we ve known how, and Kay draws on that fact by including strands from Tolkein foremost, but also the King Arthur stories, Greek mythology, Norse mythology, and so Wikipedia tells me though I did not know, Chinese literature But this gets a mere three stars because despite my love of the classic stories, I do prefer magic and myth with a little realism, as you might find in George RR Martin indeed even in Tolkein with the struggle in our hearts over the love of power In Kay s book, everyone gets redeemed and the bad guys are uncomplicated and so have to die No character is allowed to stay a mixture of good and evil, and love conquers all Hell, even the good guys have an inner nobility which allows them to discriminate between good and evil confusion is not a part of Fionavar The themes about destiny and freedom are unclear and some major events in the story don t make sense when looked at through this explanation the Greek fates Great Weaver and the Wild Hunt Randomness in universe polarity didn t quite flesh out in my opinion , and though the redemption theme is powerfully written its use is also inconsistent I m not going to say why or this would be a spoiler but feel free to ask me why I think this is if you do read these books And really, I do appreciate a good love story, but this book has nothing but cupid s arrows, love at first sight and happy ever after Hard to relate to, eh Though on the flip side despite a lack of actual sex scenes, the characters do have a lot of sex that seems recreational and light in one of the tribes it is the women who seem to do all the partner choosing indeed I might even call it a theme of this book Written from 1984 1986, it seems pretty understandable that women have big roles and a lot of power in this world.For lovers of a good yarn, this is your cup of tea For discriminating readers looking for complex characters, pick up Martin, though it remains to be seen if that deadbeat will ever finish his series Folks, if you haven t read this trilogy, you can t say you ve covered the basics of high fantasy Level One contains Lord of the Rings, and this No, really Kay gets one star simply for daring He postulates an original world from which all others, including ours, are derived Then he populates it with about 80% of all the gods and magical characters that western literature has ever known And some elves and orcs and dwarves, because you have to have those Clumsily drop in five people from our world, so we can identify with them, and away we go There is, of course, a Really Bad Guy, because that s a given in high fantasy So shake all the characters together, and every once in a while someone is going to Know that something Noble needs to be done, and go do it Someone might very well die, and there will be mourning but mostly it s about how Noble it was, and you know that in a few pages it will be someone else s turn Kay has totally mastered the required style, in which shall we say Rob Ford would become High Councillor of the Realm of Etobicoke, home of the steadfast suburbanites and their mighty TTC buses, bright was the day he was elected Thankfully, there s very little low fantasy which to me is all inns and stew and lutes There are a few annoying tropes that continue, notably that in fantasy the archers on the good side always get an instant kill with every arrow, no matter what Or that at some point our heroes will have to fight an overwhelming ground force, there will be pages and pages of hacking and slashing, and just when things look bleakest well, you know Things roll out almost incidentally At one point the Bad Guy uses winter and snow to thin out the opposition, and not much later he s using killer rain In the last book, three major encounters end in very similar ways Somehow it s OK, because epic as those confrontations are, they aren t what the series is about It s about the people, how they change, how they handle responsibility and love and power and magic Which is why Kay can even stir in King Arthur and Lancelot and Guinevere without seeming silly, and even change the loop of fate they re caught in, just as he does for some other characters If this seems like an insanely complex plot, it is But Kay pulls it off with style Remember that thing that happened on page 80 of book one and was never mentioned again On page 400 of volume 3, it will turn out to have been very important I would really, really like to see some photos of Kay s desk as he developed the plot I m thinking heaps of papers, Post it notes all over the walls, mythology texts everywhere, and a typewriter or maybe a crude word processor I d call this required reading Once you ve put this in your brain, you can read some of Kay s later work, which is less vast but perhaps even better written And then you can read some other attempts at high fantasy, and see how far short some of them fall. Wow, I am in awe of the breadth and scope of this extraordinarily layered masterpiece.A true epic fantasy not to be missed.Often compared to LOTR and not in a bad way though, I must confess that as much as I loved LOTR, The Fionavar Tapestry far surpasses it on so many levels This is a case of the pupil exceeding the master Know that I do not say this lightly The Fionavar Tapestry now holds my 1 top spot of Best Epic Fantasy Trilogy of All Time A unique blend of Celtic mythology and Arthurian legend woven into a rich tapestry all it s own, populated with accessible and very human characters I grew to love, intensely For a short time, I resided in Fionavar with them in their monumental struggle of Light against Dark Much happens in Fionavar, though I cannot say without giving spoilers If you choose to read it, you ll want to experience it as I did, fresh and with no foreknowledge of events, let it unfold naturally What I can say is there were some excellent battle scenes, though not a military play by play The profound beauty of the last kanior is something I will never forget In truth, there s isn t anything in this story that I m likely to forget There s so much to it, so full of depth and emotion The best part is that while you think you know what s going to happen, you don t when you think it s over, it s not To paraphrase There were so many things warring for a place in my heart joy and deep sorrow, pain and infinite relief This sums up how I felt upon completion of this most exceptional story In the end, I cried tears of sorrow, tears of joy Brightly woven, Mr Kay, master storyteller extraordinaire Thank you for the gift of Fionavar, The First of All Worlds. The Fionavar Tapestry was Guy Gavriel Kay s first venture into fantasy he got his start in the genre helping Christopher Tolkien edit his father s unfinished Silmarillion, and to an extent, that shows in The Fionavar Tapestry The story begins when five college students are invited by the mage Loren Silvercloak to journey to his world of Fionavar, the first of all worlds, of which all other worlds are but a shadow Fionavar has many echoes of Middle Earth there are elves the lios alfar , who are perilously beautiful and journey westward over the sea when they die there is a great and evil power who breaks free of his prison and threatens the land The Tolkien elements are well mixed with other borrowings, largely from Celtic mythology, as well as fantastic beings like dragons and unicorns.This sounds as though The Fionavar Tapestry is nothing but a pale imitation of other fantasy, but that s the last thing it is Kay adds his own inventions to the older elements and creates a gorgeous tapestry that s the only word for it of a world Although his writing isn t as polished yet as in later books, the emotional power of his language is stunning perhaps stunning than in some of the later books, in fact I ve read these books several times, and they never fail to enthrall me the world and the characters feel vividly real to me Perhaps Kay s later books surpass Fionavar in craftsmanship, but none of them surpass its depth of feeling.
Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy, though the author himself has expressed a preference to shy away from genre categoriz
- 792 pages
- The Fionavar Tapestry
- Guy Gavriel Kay
- 08 January 2019 Guy Gavriel Kay