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War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
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War for the Oaks (1987)

by Emma Bull

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,185862,972 (4.09)229
Recently added byprivate library, mayaspector, Jon_Hansen, veredi, jonathankws, Owen.Tyler
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» See also 229 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
Yep, still excellent! With it's wit, warmth, great characters and a story that gets you hooked, instantly.
Faeries, a chosen mortal, a fight between good (of sort) and evil, a lot of Rock'n'Roll and one sexy, irresistible Phouka.

I love it!

b/w the book was written in the 80's. References, clothes, songs. A trip down memory lane :)

( )
  veredi | Mar 25, 2017 |
Wow. What an intense ride, a gentle slow beginning that just picks up pace and drama before the climatic end. Superb. So much worth waiting for, I'd been recommended this years ago, and failed to find a copy, it wasn't out in ebook, and 2nd hand copies were ruinous. But bless penguin who've released a new ebook version, finally. It is every bit as good as promised.

Before there was 'urban fantasy' before HP and before Twilight, the fantasy genre was almost exclusively 'other world' and occasionally 'portal'. The concept of having magic within our contemporary lives didn't sit well with the psyche and it was rarely, if ever, done. Emma Bull did it. Her debuet novel is powerful tour-de-force of things we take for granted in writing these days: Kick-ass women, mysterious creatures, battles of will, wits and illusion all submerged into and around a normal life.

Eddi is singer musician and guitarist in 70s Minneapolis, making a living, just about, in the days before mobiles (and Aids?) when you only heard about bands by seeing them live, and adverts for musicians went in the paper. She's just dumped a band and boyfriend and is not in the mood for shit from strange men lurking by fountains in the dark. But she doesn't get much choice, as the Poucha and the Glastag from Celtic faerie traditions cast glamours and beguiling words, although to their surprise she's almost able to shake them off. They inform her, that she has been chosen by the Seelie court of the Fey, to be their mortal token in their upcoming battle with the Unseelie, and that she has to be present on the battlefield for them to triumph. The price of their failing is the loss of all that makes Minneapolis bright and fun. The Phouka is to guard her night and day from the Unseelie who will seek to remove her from contention. Eddi is utterly nonplussed by such talk but has little choice than to accept. Her immediate attempts to lose the Phouka come to no fruition, and he is as annoying as the faerie sprite who leads travellers astray can be. Her biggest problem is the sudden realisation that it's impossible to find a job with a phouka (even if he's in an attractive human form) literally around you 24/7. Her friend to whom she's perhaps unwisely confided, urges her to start her own band, and they're surprisingly successful. But the Fey have not forgotten her, and battle's await.

There are, if you're picky, some problems with the plot and even the writing occasionally. All the characters are far too accepting of the supernatural; friends' with money and contacts are a lazy get-out for an 'ordinary girl' and not enough is made of the interactions with her ex-Stuart. I'm sure some people will object to the inclusion of song lyrics within prose - but they work far better than many poems that get introduced to other works. I found some of the intricacies of musical descriptions hard to follow, but the intensity and passion of the writing leaves so little room for such trifles.

This should only really get 4.5* for the minor niggles, and that it hasn't aged magnificently well, given how much society has changed since it was written. But it's so powerfully written and engages so deeply with that crossover between music, art , words and magic that it gets a full 5*.

Go and read it! ( )
5 vote reading_fox | Feb 23, 2017 |
I am not able to be unbiased for this book--it takes place in the parks, buildings, and streets of my home, Minneapolis.

It reads a lot like modern Urban Fantasy, but came out in 1987.

I'm definitely going to read this again. ( )
  adamwolf | Jan 4, 2017 |
First published in 1987, War for the Oaks is one of the pioneers of the urban fantasy genre. On the night that Eddi McCandry breaks up with her boyfriend and leaves his band, she has a run in with the fey. Turns out, she’s been chosen as a pawn in the war between the Seelie and Unseelie courts.

War for the Oaks draws upon what’s nowadays fairly familiar aspects of fairy folklore. The Seelie and Unseelie courts, the fey’s love of mortal musicians, creatures such as brownies and phoukas, and so on. However, the story focuses just as much on Eddie forming a new band as it does on her role in the fairy war.

Music plays a huge role in War for the Oaks. Eddi’s life revolves around music and creating music. I’m not much of a music person (to the point where I rarely listen to it on my own), so I think it’s a testament to the strength of Bull’s writing that I enjoyed these sections as much as I did. Let me be clear – I found War for the Oaks excellently written. The descriptions were lush and vibrant, and the dialog snappy.

I’m the wrong generation to have eighties nostalgia, but War for the Oaks did remind me of the eighties movies I’ve seen. Obviously, none of the musical references outdated 1987, but there were also a lot of descriptions of clothes that seem specific to the era. It’s not exactly specific to the time period, but there was also a bit of casual background racism, and Eddie just accepted that Stuart would react violently to the breakup.

My favorite character by far is the phouka, a shapeshifter who turns from man to dog. He’s exuberant and flamboyant, and his dialog for some reason reminds me of a Shakespearean play. I realize only now that I never became strongly attached to Eddie herself, although I did like her friendship with Carla, the drummer in her band. Maybe it’s because so much of Eddie’s life revolves around her music that it’s hard to get a sense of her outside of that?

The climax of the book felt like it was over with very quickly. It was also a lot more vaguely mystical than the rest of the book, in a way that reminds me of Robin McKinley’s writing.

I’d really like to know more about the influence War for the Oaks had on the genre. I know it was one of the very first urban fantasy novels, and I can clearly see it’s touch in books like Holly Black’s Tithe. If anyone ever comes across some sort of essay on the subject, I would love to read it.

I don’t think War for the Oaks will feel particularly novel to anyone familiar with fairies in today’s urban fantasy. However, I’d still suggest it as a well written example of the genre and to anyone interested in a fantasy book centering on music.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
2 vote pwaites | May 4, 2016 |
A solid 3 stars. I was hoping for more after hearing so much about this book and its importance to the genre. It was fun and captivating, but a few things got under my skin that kept it from being a truly exceptional story.
Even though music was a big part of the story, I thought the descriptions of it took me away from what was going on. Maybe just a little too technical for my taste?
A large part that I thought was lacking was the history and/or the description of the Fae/magical realm. The beginning time that Eddi spent with the phouka seemed far too accepting on Eddi's part. I really thought she would have had many more questions about this newly found magical realm. I know I did.
I'm glad I finally read it. It was enjoyable, but I don't think I would have continued if there were more titles that followed. ( )
  beertraveler | Feb 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
Whenever I describe my Tufa novels, The Hum and the Shiver and the upcoming Wisp of a Thing, to potential readers, they immediately mention two literary antecedents. One is the Silver John stories and novels by Manly Wade Wellman, which I discussed here. The other is Emma Bull’s 1987 novel War for the Oaks. ... As with the Silver John stories, I now understand why people make the connection to my Tufa books. In this case, there are both musicians and faeries, and a sense that magic resides in music. But also as with Silver John, I think that similarity is mainly a surface one. Which, again as with Wellman’s tales, actually delights me, because it means I can enjoy War for the Oaks with a clear conscience.
added by legallypuzzled | editTor.com, Alex Bledsoe (pay site) (Apr 29, 2013)
 
In short ... I just can’t imagine anyone not liking War For the Oaks. It has everything you could possibly want in a book except pirates and space ships - and the phouka wears a sort of piratey ruffled shirt at one point so that partially covers the pirate angle. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s thought - provoking, and did I mention that it is sexy as hell? With all those significant glances and enigmatic statements and, oh yeah, some really hot, if not extremely explicit, sex? Just go read it; if you combine it with some good coffee and some good songs in the background, I can almost guarantee you the perfect day.
added by legallypuzzled | editsmart bithces, sb sarah (pay site) (May 2, 2011)
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Emma Bullprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dringenberg, MikeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eshkar, ShelleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayden, Patrick NielsenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patrick, PamelaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Regina, Jane AdeleDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Windling, TerriEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
This book is for my mother,
who knew right away that the Beatles were important,
and for my father, who never once complained about the noise.
First words
By day, the Nicollet Mall winds through Minneapolis like a paved canal.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But her boyfriend just dumped her, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk - and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0765300346, Paperback)

Emma Bull's debut novel, War for the Oaks, placed her in the top tier of urban fantasists and established a new subgenre. Unlike most of the rock & rollin' fantasies that have ripped off Ms. Bull's concept, War for the Oaks is well worth reading. Intelligent and skillfully written, with sharply drawn, sympathetic characters, War for the Oaks is about love and loyalty, life and death, and creativity and sacrifice.

Eddi McCandry has just left her boyfriend and their band when she finds herself running through the Minneapolis night, pursued by a sinister man and a huge, terrifying dog. The two creatures are one and the same: a phouka, a faerie being who has chosen Eddi to be a mortal pawn in the age-old war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Eddi isn't interested--but she doesn't have a choice. Now she struggles to build a new life and new band when she might not even survive till the first rehearsal.

War for the Oaks won the Locus Magazine award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Society Award. Other books by Emma Bull include the novels Falcon, Bone Dance (second honors, Philip K. Dick Award), Finder (a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award), and (with Stephen Brust) Freedom and Necessity; the collection Double Feature (with Will Shetterly); and the picture book The Princess and the Lord of Night. --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:11 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Eddi McCandry, an unemployed Minneapolis rock singer, finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk.

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