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War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

War for the Oaks (1987)

by Emma Bull

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,379924,320 (4.05)257
Eddi McCandry, an unemployed Minneapolis rock singer, finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie filk.
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    Herenya: Both are set in the late 80s, about artists trying to make a living from their art. There the similarities between the two books end, perhaps... but I can imagine Greg and friends going to listen to Eddi's band.
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» See also 257 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
76 points/100 (4 stars/5).

Eddi McCandry is a musician, and when coming home from a gig one night, she runs into the fae. Now they want to use her in the war between Seelie and Unseelie. She is just a musician, what possible use could they have for her?

I really enjoyed reading this book. I'm reading this for the r/urbanfantasy book club. I typically avoid older urban fantasy, or older anything really. I could really tell this was an older book. The word choices are completely different than what we would choose today. The story itself have remarkable similarities, though. I amused myself while reading this by coming up with all the ways this is similar to other series I have read in the genre. There are many of the tropes we have come to know and love (or hate), but this is the precursor to many.

Eddi is an okay main character. For urban fantasy, she is different than what you see today. She isn't a detective, she isn't a vampire slayer. She didn't stumble into some grand adventure she just couldn't stay away from. She is just a chick with a guitar and a really good voice, and was chosen for a goal. Eddi has normal, everyday worries like how is she going to make money, transportation, and her friends. Then there is the added stress of what the fae want from her. She isn't the best character in this book, that would be the Phouka. She is full of flaws, but she is the one the fae chose.

This book surprised me with how much the romance subplot took up. It shouldn't have, perhaps. It has just as much romance as modern urban fantasy does. However, I haven't seen as much hate on for this book as I have for others in the genre regarding the romance. But, that is another long drawn out randt, and this isn't the place. It is, perhaps, a bit of a obvious romance from the start. I liked it, it was cute and fulfilling. It is the romance that most of us, perhaps, want in our lives.

I'll confess that I didn't give one lick about the band and music aspects of this story. I was rather bored by it all, honestly. It isn't really anything that personally interests me. I find it weird that song lyrics are in a book, anyway. Maybe I'm not.. knowledgeable about late 80s music, but I could not even tell if those were real lyrics or not. I just didn't care enough to bother even look them up. I will give her props if she made it all up though, that isn't easy.

I loved the fae. You may not know this, but I absolutely love fae in my series. They're my favourite urban fantasy creature. This book did not disappoint me. I'm often disappointed with fae in urban fantasy. They're always written so poorly. I loved the way Emma Bull wrote these fae, so much. It is my favourite part of the entire book. Every bit with the fae in it was a bit I was hanging on to every word on.

The ending, though. Wow, was I caught off guard by that ending. The book is very serious the whole way through until that ending. It felt like an anime ending. I seriously stopped and laughed for five minutes solid when I got to that proposal. It felt so cheesy. I was not expecting that at all. I was expecting a more... tragic ending than I got. Just, this is such an old book, how does it have an anime ending? I'm still in awe of this fact.

This was definitely worth reading the once. I enjoyed the story, but I don't believe I'll read it again. I may check out more of Emma Bull's urban fantasy works, though. Especially if it will give me more good fae. ( )
  keikii | Jan 23, 2020 |
This book is listed on some "must read" lists for fantasy as the first urban fantasy. Now I am not an urban fantasy reader but had a copy. I wasn't enamoured of it. In fact around about page 100 I nearly gave up. The beginning is really boring. I then skim read for a bit and the novel picks up a bit once the war begins. So I did finish it and the end is much better than the beginning but my reaction was still "meh". I just don't like urban fantasy much and a lot of this book was like treacle to read. ( )
  infjsarah | Jan 13, 2019 |
I bought this book back in 2005 at the Mall of America, before I knew how to pack enough reading materials into my bags so I didn’t run out halfway through a road trip. I don’t think I knew what urban fantasy was back then, but I liked the cover and I had enough of my allowance left so hey! Why not, right? I think the blurb from Neil Gaiman helped me decide, too, though it’s probably the least useful blurb I’ve ever seen.

So this was my intro to Emma Bull! And I think it’s a pretty darned good one. It’s no longer my favorite urban fantasy book, but I still definitely enjoy reading it. Sure, there’s some dated stuff (the clothing, mostly) and a really depressing event near the end that makes me scream “WHYYYYYYYY” every time I read it, but it’s still an excellent urban fantasy book. It’s got rock n’ roll and scary violence and an interesting cast of characters. I like especially that it’s set in Minneapolis– the “flyover” states still don’t get much love in fantasy nowadays, and I have a fondness for Minnesota-set stories anyway (I lived there when I was little).

My favorite Emma Bull book (so far) is still Freedom and Necessity, but if you’re more into modern fantasy than historical fantasy, War for the Oaks is a worth a read for sure. ( )
  doctorsidrat | Dec 9, 2018 |
Eddi McCandry is in a band that’s going nowhere and in a relationship with the band’s leader that’s heading the same way when after their latest gig ends badly is accosted on her way home after quitting from both. There’s a war brewing between the Seelie and Unseelie courts of Faerie that would lack meaning without a mortal’s involvement and it appears Eddi has just been drafted. Until the conflict begins in earnest she is assigned a protector in the shape of a phouka and despite Eddi’s best efforts won’t leave her side. Needing something to occupy her time and take her mind off upcoming events Eddi, at the urging of Carla (best friend and drummer from the band she just quit), starts a new band and sets about recruiting members. The phouka will act as roadie. Can she live to see the end of the conflict and even make a success of both sides of her new life?

This accomplished debut novel is regarded as a forerunner for the urban fantasy genre that blends the world of magic with the one we know as real. It also deals heavily with the life of a musician and all that that entails with occasional song lyrics being inserted into the story. It’s very firmly set within the time period it was written with the culture, music and fashion all being late 80’s. There’s a good sense of place with the Minneapolis backdrop to the story featuring prominently. My copy of the book includes a couple of scenes from a screenplay written by the author and her husband and a few notes about why and how they wrote it. An enjoyable early work of the genre. ( )
1 vote AHS-Wolfy | Oct 14, 2018 |
Readable, but not my cup of tea. Romantic contemporary urban faerie tales simply don't appeal much to me. I did manage to finish but thought about putting this one aside several times along the way. At the conclusion, it was all rather predictable. ( )
  ScoLgo | Jul 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (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

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bull, Emmaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alderman, NaomiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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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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