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Gossamer Axe (1990)

by Gael Baudino

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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438956,901 (3.75)1 / 43
When her lover is imprisoned, Christa--a centuries-old harper--must set her free using the greatest weapon she possesses: music In ancient Ireland, Chairiste Ní Cummen, a harper, was trained in the secrets of music and magic, but her curiosity and pride trapped her and her lover in the realm of the fairy folk, the Sidh. Chairiste alone managed to escape, and now, living in the modern world as Christa Cruitaire, a quiet harp teacher, she is all but resigned to her inability to win her beloved's freedom . . . until she discovers that the volume and violence of the electric guitar and heavy metal might prove brutal enough to forcibly breach the barriers between the human and fairy worlds. With the aid of her bandmates--who must themselves overcome inner demons of abuse, addiction, and prejudice--Christa is determined to use her newfound musical power to rescue the woman she loves. Audacious and heartfelt, Gossamer Axe is an entirely original hero's journey, an ode to the power of music and the human spirit alike, charged with rapier-sharp social commentary.… (more)
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 Name that Book: help IDing a fantasy book7 unread / 7spoiledfornothing, October 2008

» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
It's one of the books that changed the way I look at life, and I wanted to pick it up and re-read it for the umpteenth time. This is the 3rd copy of this book that I have, since I kept giving it away to friends to read. Never heard back about their take on it, though.

So the premise is that a young woman with a harp lives in Denver in the 1980's teaching harp lessons, but she is really from 6th Century Ireland and her harp is from the immortal lands of the Sidh. She took it with her when she escaped their lands, but sadly, her lover, Suidb (Judith) did not get out with her. Chairste has been living a half-life of despair, wondering how to bring Judith back when the gates between our world and the Lands of the Sidh are growing ever more fragile.

Enter one of Chairiste's students, a bass player, who introduces her to the world of the hair bands of the 80's, and guitar teacher Kevin, and Chairiste finds out how she can open up the gates, rescue her lover, and overcome the Master Harper who would keep Judith enchanted forever. Gael Baudino does a masterful job telling this story, interweaving threads of the dark side of Catholicism, women's efforts to make their mark in rock music, and how men can come to revere women as Goddess. The interweaving of music and magick is extraordinary. ( )
1 vote threadnsong | Aug 12, 2019 |
As soon as I read the back cover I knew I had to read this book. It is such an interesting, fun premise and I really enjoyed the book. I liked the characters, I liked the relationships between them, and it made me want to listen to some heavy metal. However, I felt the ending was a bit rushed and anti-climatic. Overall, I liked the book, and would recommend it to anyone interested in a unique fantasy book. ( )
  queenofthebobs | Jun 2, 2019 |
I can't give this less than three and a half stars because it is fully realized and decently written - but I veered here and there between almost hooting at the delightful ridiculousness of it and a sense of enough already. It is a feminist/lesbian (or if it makes you more comfortable, bisexual) piece of fantasy fiction and while I have no doubt the sexism of the heavy metal scene is accurately described it's sometimes like having someone let all the air out of a souffle...... oh well.... Anyhow Chairiste and Suidb (just say Judith) were kidnapped 14 centuries ago by the Sidh, Chairiste gets away and lands in 18th century England, but Judith is stuck. Nothing changes in Sidh-land. Chairiste (Now Christa) stole the #1 harp when she left, Ceis, who can talk a little and is really a sort of universal spirit who lives in the harp, and Ceis keeps Christa young eternally with his healing mojo. OK so it's all about rescuing Judith and the story unrolls from that premise. It's fun, it's readable. I like the dynamics between the characters and I scurried to YouTube over and over to refresh myself about various songs they were playing
As a harper, I have to say, I am sometimes embarrassed by how dewy-eyed people get about the instrument - so I kind of loved the main character making the switch to electric guitar - point being, music is music! ***1/2 ( )
  sibylline | Sep 2, 2013 |
this tale made me want to take up metal - the subculture sounded completely unappealing but the intensity and devotion of the participants...compelling.

red-haired superwoman discovers the power of heavy metal music just as she's about to give up hope, takes on faerie to win her lover back. a teenaged Emma probably would've loved this in her early days of identification with Vanyel et al. ( )
  EhEh | Apr 3, 2013 |
This one took me by surprise. I've been passing over it on my friend's speculative fiction shelves for years now, then for some reason picked it up the other day and got hooked a couple of chapters in.

Christa is a bisexual woman who escaped from the Celtic Otherworld 200 years ago, and is still trying to figure out how to free her inamorata from that unchanging, sterile place. She puts aside her harp and picks up an electric guitar to achieve her aims.

Certain elements are predictable: the antagonists, particularly, are uninspired. But the way Baudino handles the musical aspects, the world of rock and how it is for women, magic, cultural distress (for Christa), community and friendship--it's textured, fascinating, very well done.

As for authenticity (for the ancient Celtic part), she gets a lot right. My main complaint is that the Celts didn't celebrate the solstices and equinoxes as she has them do--Christa really is more modern Wiccan than ancient Celt in some ways--but regardless, the book holds together nicely. It is what it is.

A very pleasant surprise. ( )
1 vote thesmellofbooks | Apr 15, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gael Baudinoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wilson, DawnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When her lover is imprisoned, Christa--a centuries-old harper--must set her free using the greatest weapon she possesses: music In ancient Ireland, Chairiste Ní Cummen, a harper, was trained in the secrets of music and magic, but her curiosity and pride trapped her and her lover in the realm of the fairy folk, the Sidh. Chairiste alone managed to escape, and now, living in the modern world as Christa Cruitaire, a quiet harp teacher, she is all but resigned to her inability to win her beloved's freedom . . . until she discovers that the volume and violence of the electric guitar and heavy metal might prove brutal enough to forcibly breach the barriers between the human and fairy worlds. With the aid of her bandmates--who must themselves overcome inner demons of abuse, addiction, and prejudice--Christa is determined to use her newfound musical power to rescue the woman she loves. Audacious and heartfelt, Gossamer Axe is an entirely original hero's journey, an ode to the power of music and the human spirit alike, charged with rapier-sharp social commentary.

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