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The Wandering Fire (The Fionavar Tapestry, Book 2) (original 1986; edition 1992)

by Guy Gavriel Kay

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Title:The Wandering Fire (The Fionavar Tapestry, Book 2)
Authors:Guy Gavriel Kay
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Rating:****1/2
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The Wandering Fire by Guy Gavriel Kay (1986)

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English (37)  Dutch (2)  All languages (39)
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Months have passed since Kim transported her Canadian companions back from Fionavar to our world, and Jennifer now carries the child of Rakoth Maugrim. She is determined, against her friends' advice, to bring the baby to term; to thwart her captor, and perhaps the Weaver herself, by bringing about an element of chance unforeseen. When Jennifer delivers her little bundle of defiance into the hands of a familiar loving family, Kim leads the group to England to summon once more the Warrior who has fought countless battles in penance for an ancient crime, and who will journey by their sides back to Fionavar -- which is held in the grip of an unnatural winter -- for the standoff against Maugrim's forces.

The second book of the Fionavar Tapestry is a smoother ride than the first, although its widening of scope and its need to lay the groundwork for the tour de force that is the final book lends a disjointed feel to the narrative at times. The prose is a little more restrained without losing either the lyricism that is the hallmark of most of Kay's writing or the melodrama that gives the trilogy its distinctive tone. One thing that immediately strikes me here is how much Kay's female characters have evolved, because I complained about their relative lack of three-dimensionality in the first book when compared to the menfolk. The previously shrewish Jaelle gains a convincing reason for her cold exterior, and in relating to some of the other characters, especially the women, she borders on likeable. Kim always possessed the greatest depth of any of the lead five except for Paul, but this book does a good job of highlighting her inner struggle over what she has become in donning the role of the Seer and of how to reconcile those doubts with the need to live up to the gravity her words are now accorded. And Jennifer... Jennifer is very much the heart and soul of The Wandering Fire, but in order to talk about why, I need to address one of the book's major themes.

Like The Summer Tree before it, The Wandering Fire deals with a major protagonist's powerful sacrifice, among all the other smaller but no less poignant sacrifices that line its pages. But it's the first book that I associate with sacrifice as a theme. When I think of The Wandering Fire, I think of destiny. The key sacrifice here is not so much a choice as it is a recognition of an inevitability. Characters lesser in role but not in heart march towards their fates with heads held high, though those fates are as clear to them as they are to the reader. The timeless love and heartbreak of the Warrior and his lady has repeated itself so unfailingly throughout the ages that they know the path of their reunion and their defeat before they even lay eyes on one another again. The choices to be made here, the moments that distinguish the noble of spirit, are in how they respond to the moments they know are coming. And this is where I talk about Jennifer, because in her will to bring about an element of randomness that cannot be controlled, no matter what it costs her, no matter what it risks for so many worlds, Jennifer is perhaps the character with the greatest power and agency. She isn't swinging a sword, she isn't foretelling the future, but I'd argue that she is the one fighting this battle on the most personal level, and perhaps with the greatest chance of winning. It's a way of reclaiming what was taken from her in Starkadh that does no disservice to her state of turmoil, and continues to be an excellent handling of a delicate type of plot.

Where the first book wove elements of Arthurian legend throughout the story, the second plunges us headfirst into it. Taliesin and Cavall and the like are names that might pass the memory by in homes that aren't lined with as many mythological books as my own, but Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot are as much the inescapable household love story, here at least, as Robin Hood and Maid Marian. There is a risk, when dealing with characters this weighty, of either failing to lend them appropriate gravitas or completely overshadowing your original creations. Kay deftly avoids both extremes. Every mention of Arthur Pendragon's star-filled eyes sends a chill down the spine, but one never loses sight of how much has been stripped away and worn down from these timeless, tragic people. The closing lines of the book are perfect in their weighty sense of the burden of so many different kinds of love.

If there's one storyline that continues to grate on my nerves, it's everything to do with Diarmuid and Sharra. Diarmuid is a fantastic character when paired with people like Paul or Loren; when he's around Sharra or his brother, I want to slap everyone involved. The scene with Shalhassan's arrival in Brennin was so contrived it was painful. I felt like I was being told in the most heavy-handed of terms, rather than shown, that Diarmuid and Aileron had accomplished some legendary feat of statesmanship out of what seemed to me like the cursory level of political awareness I would expect of characters of their rank and status, and that Sharra was some sort of femme fatale instead of the petulant brat and liability to her kingdom she was coming across as. Although the dialogue is generally a step up from The Summer Tree, this is the clunkiest moment in the entire trilogy.

That moment aside, I find myself light on criticisms for this book. It suffers a little bit from middle book syndrome, in that there's a fair bit of setup for what's to come and it's light on resolution, so the first and third books stand out more in my memory. Perhaps paradoxically, the disjointed nature of some of that setup left me thinking that a few storylines got short shrift, and the book could possibly have benefitted from another 50 pages to round them out.

On the whole, though, The Wandering Fire is a beautiful work of fantasy and a moving tribute to legend -- and the best is yet to come.

Review from Bookette.net ( )
  Snumpus | Sep 20, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

It’s been 1½ years since I read The Summer Tree, Guy Gavriel Kay’s first novel and the first in his Fionavar Tapestry. I mentioned in the review for that book that I’m an adoring fan of Kay’s later stand-alone novels but that I found The Summer Tree derivative and heavy. I would have happily skipped its sequel, The Wandering Fire, but I had already purchased it at Audible, so I thought I’d give it a chance to win me over. Simon Vance, the narrator, is one of my favorites and his bad Canadian accents were toned down this time, which made him pleasant to listen to, as usual.

In this installment, the five college students are back home in Toronto after Kim whisked them out of Fionavar when she heard Jennifer being tortured after being raped by the dark lord, Rakoth Maugrim. Jennifer became pregnant and has refused to get rid of the baby. Will the son of the dark lord be evil? Are genes destiny, or might love overcome their effect? Meanwhile, the unnatural winter grinds on in Fionavar. The people are starving and the minions of the dark lord are attacking, so Kim goes to Stonehenge to summon Arthur Pendragon and takes him and the rest of the gang back to fight evil in Fionavar.

I felt pretty much the same way about The Wandering Fire as I did about The Summer Tree. Here we get to know our heroes a little better, but they still remain rather shallow even though we spend plenty of time viewing events from their perspectives and watching them act and speak with an abundance of emotion. The villains are similarly thin. The story advances, though not much has been accomplished by the end, and I had the familiar feeling that The Fionavar Tapestry could have been done in two books instead of three.

The story, though derivative (there are so many Tolkienesque elements here), is intriguing, but the addition of King Arthur (and the foreshadowed love triangle with Jennifer and Lancelot) is strange and seems out of place. There are bright patches of humor and wit, especially in the blossoming romance between Sharra and Diarmuid, which has been my favorite plotline in this series.

My main problem with The Fionavar Tapestry is that it’s so unrelievedly heavy and histrionic. The characters, even those from modern Toronto, express almost every thought in intense turgid prose. Everything that happens — every conversation, every fight, every sex scene, every meal — is treated as if it’s the climax of the story. It’s often beautiful, but frankly, it’s exhausting. This is an area where GGK has markedly improved over the years. His later novels are still full of passion, but in these earlier books, each character feels as if he’s likely to explode at any moment if the temperature in Fionavar ever gets above freezing.

Overall, then, The Wandering Fire is a rather conventional high fantasy that suffers from excess weight and pomposity, but it’s easy and exciting to see the early stages of Guy Gavriel Kay’s later greatness here. Fans who are interested in this author’s evolution will want to be familiar with The Fionavar Tapestry, especially since its mythology is alluded to in his later novels. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
En mi opinión el mejor libro de la trilogía, en comparación con los otros dos.
Es el más entretenido y con mayor cantidad de sucesos inesperados. El misterio es mayor y la historia se vuelve más atrapante que en [b:El árbol del verano|13610210|El árbol del verano (El tapiz de Fionavar, #1)|Guy Gavriel Kay|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1334943950s/13610210.jpg|3238632].

Eso si:
Cuando entra en la historia El Rey Arturo al que apodaron "Asesino de niños" casi revoleo el libro al demonio. Toda esa parte de "leyenda artúrica" (no me alcanza la ironía para decir eso) es sencillamente mala, casi diría, una falta de respeto. ( )
  outlanders22 | Sep 21, 2013 |
This one I liked better than it's predecessor. The beginning was rough and really had nothing more than tidying up loose ends from the last, creating a time line jump, and then getting everyone back where they had to be.

I still find myself only interested at all in two of The Five, Paul and then Jennifer, but I am massively in love and rapt with a whole lot of the secondary characters and large swags of certain Finoavar races. I do feel that the first book portrayed the Evil vs. Good sides more clearly and evenly, while this one had a whole lot on what was happening on The Good Guy's Side.

There's a whole lot of loose ends in this one. Where the first book could stand alone, so much is left unattended to, or pushed to the side, that I feel I wanted to see more of, whether person or place or event or happening. And certain other things happens so fast looking back I wonder if they were supposed to have mattered more to me.

Of course, you know I loved it when they brought Arthurian Legends into it. (Finally. Something to cling to hard until Ysabelle.) I really, really like what they are doing with that legend here, how it blurs, how everyone loves everyone, and hopefully book three won't have me eating these words. ( )
  wanderlustlover | Jul 24, 2013 |
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

I was frustrated during certain parts of this book. First of all, I didn't realize how much I was missing due to a lack of knowledge of mythology. At one point I went out to look up the book on Wikipedia, to see how much I needed to know about King Arthur to get by, and was blown away by all of the references I hadn't picked up on. Secondly, it was a little slow and almost on the boring side during some parts. I loved [b:The Summer Tree|104086|The Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry, #1)|Guy Gavriel Kay|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171506609s/104086.jpg|3238632], so that was a little disappointing.

But Kay always seems to redeem himself. He's so damn romantic. The relationships and romance in this book had me swooning left and right. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that this is romancey at all... But when he did write some romance in, it was damn good. Just... Beautifully done. If a man ever talked to me romantically like the men in his stories talk to the women in them.. Damn. I'd be a puddle.

And the ending.. Beautiful and emotionally moving.. He definitely redeemed the slower parts with the last third.

All in all, it wasn't quite as good as [b:The Summer Tree|104086|The Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry, #1)|Guy Gavriel Kay|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171506609s/104086.jpg|3238632], but I still really liked it. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the last book of the trilogy. ( )
  breakofdawn | Jun 11, 2013 |
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Guy Gavriel Kayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Springett, MartinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Wandering Fire is dedicated to my wife, LAURA, who came with me to find it.
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Winter was coming.
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"Vous voulez votre propre malheur" murmura Paul.
Arthur se tourna vers lui, avec un sourire plein de compassion : "C'était voulu depuis longtemps."
Et le visage d'Arthur Pendragon était empreint en cet instant d'une noblesse plus pure que ce que Paul avait jamais pu voir de toute sa vie. Plus encore qu'en Liranan ou en Cernan des Animaux. C'était la quintessence de la noblesse, et tout en Paul protestait contre le fatal destin qui découlerait de ce choix effroyable.
Diarmuid s'était détourné.
"Lancelot !" dit Arthur à la silhouette étendue sur la pierre.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451458265, Paperback)

The Wandering Fire is the second novel of Guy Gavriel Kay’s critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Fionavar Tapestry. A mage’s power has brought five university students from our world into a realm where an ancient evil has freed itself from captivity to wreak revenge on its enemies…

The ice of eternal winter has reached out to enshroud Fionavar, the first of all worlds. For the Unraveller has broken free after millennia enchained—and now his terrible vengeance has begun to take its toll on mortals and immortals, mages and warriors, dwarves and the lios alfar, the Children of Light.

Only five men and women of our own world, brought by magic across the Tapestry of worlds to the very heart of the Weaver’s pattern, can hope to wake the allies they so desperately need. Yet none can foretell whether even these beings out of legend have the power to shatter the Unraveller’s icy grip of death upon the land…

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:37 -0400)

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Continues the adventures of five young men and women from our world caught in a war between the forces of good and evil.

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