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  1. #1
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    The Fionavar Tapestry

    Has anyone read this book by Guy Gavriel Kay? I thought it was rather good if not overstuffed with ideas at some points. I am starting it again and I was just wondering your opinion of it.

  2. #2
    Give me liberty! Ouroboros's Avatar
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    I think it's much underappreciated... a really solid trilogy.

    A lot lighter and more 'fun', IMO, than Kay's other work.

  3. #3
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    The Fionavar Tapestry was one of the first fantasy series that I read. I would definately recommend reading it. It is a contrast to his later books in which "magic" becomes part of the scenary.

  4. #4
    I eat fish. Bear's Avatar
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    As I've said before, I didn't like the "Summer Tree" at all and I didn't continue reading the series. Kay's later work is good, but I'm glad I didn't read this series first, or I may have written him off. Poor characterization was my major complaint.

  5. #5
    Lord of the Wild Hunt Mithfânion's Avatar
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    I thought it was excellent, one of the best of many Fantasy books that I have read. I'd elaborate if you like.

  6. #6
    Illustrious Gambler saintjon's Avatar
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    Good good good good good good (like my vocabulary)


    man, nobody paints a verbal picture and loads it with weight like Kay.

  7. #7
    Inter spem metumque iacto Julian's Avatar
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    Re: The Fionavar Tapestry

    Originally posted by Stewart
    [B]Has anyone read this book by Guy Gavriel Kay?
    Of course. The Fionavar Tapestry is one of the finest fantasies ever to have been published.

    I can understand Ouroboros's comments, but don't agree with him totally. Whereas "Fionavar" does start out almost "lightly", it is, ultimately, a profound and very moving trilogy. Beautiful, but very sad in parts. Not light. Not really "fun" either.

    As an aside: I think, nowadays, we tend to judge the "depth" of fantasy too readily by size. By this, I mean simply its length on the one hand and its tendency to megalomania on the other. By megalomania I refer (for example) the now almost ubiqitous habit of not just having a battle or two, but, instead, endless huge slaughterfields, where countless thousands are more or lesss summarily executed for the would-be sake of achieving some semblance of grandeur. I refer (to give another example) to the fact that, nowadays, it is not sufficient to focus upon just one or two characters, but to impose a host of them in an attempt to convince the reader that the story must therefore be not just complex, but also intelligent. And to do all this by producing volume after volume of at least 700 pages apiece, which is where the size issue comes into play.

    At heart, this is no more than a "bigger is better" approach.

    "The Fionavar Tapestry", however, was written before this tendency emerged. It was written before we had all these huge (and, let's be honest, often rambling) "mega" series. In my view, though, that doesn't make it any less good. It doesn't even make it any less "epic". If anything, it makes it better.
    Last edited by Julian; September 2nd, 2003 at 05:50 PM.

  8. #8
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    *applauds for Julian*

  9. #9
    Lord of the Wild Hunt Mithfânion's Avatar
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    The huge Fantasy book sizes of the last years is a mixed blessing. For instance, I would hope that the new Kay stand-alone is near to 700 pages, simply because I want as much Kay I can get, because it will be another two years at the very least before we see anything from him again.

    Take for instance Hobb. Every page counts with her. It's not bloated, it's red-hot story all the way. Fool's Fate is almost 800 pages (in Dutch translation anyway). But there are also authors who package 500 page books as 800 page books, and then it's rather unpleasant.

  10. #10
    Give me liberty! Ouroboros's Avatar
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    Re: Re: The Fionavar Tapestry

    Originally posted by Julian

    I can understand Ouroboros's comments, but don't agree with him totally. Whereas "Fionavar" does start out almost "lightly", it is, ultimately, a profound and very moving trilogy. Beautiful, but very sad in parts. Not light. Not really "fun" either.
    Crucially, I made my comments in comparison with Kay's other work.

    Given that it includes elements of extreme violence and rape in parts, I'd agree that 'light' was probably a poor descriptor. But I regard it as being more pulpy, fun and accessible than something like Tigana.

  11. #11
    Inter spem metumque iacto Julian's Avatar
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    Re: Re: Re: The Fionavar Tapestry

    Originally posted by Ouroboros


    Crucially, I made my comments in comparison with Kay's other work.
    I understood that. I'm still not really sure I agree. But having said that, I read both works pretty much when they came out. Which meant I was rather a bit younger - a teenager - when tackling "Fionavar" and undoubtedly more easily impressed. Perhaps because of this, it had a relatively large impact at the time (in relation to "Tigana", even though it was just a few years later).

    Be that as it may, I don't think we're really at odds here. I love and admire both works (and all Kay's books, in fact).

  12. #12
    Witch of the Woods Miriamele's Avatar
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    I just finished reading The Fionavar Tapestry. On the whole I enjoyed it very much. As others in this thread have pointed out, this trilogy is a lot different from Kay's other works. While I am a big fan of just about everything he's written, in some ways I liked Fionavar better than his newer stuff.

    The main reason I liked it better than his later works is that magic plays a huge role in the story. (Magic is fun; it's the main reason I read fantasy.) Dragons, unicorns, elves (in the Lios Alfar), giants, dwarves, mages, gods and goddesses, a magic cauldron, a sorcerous ring, and an enchanted dagger are all present. And a lot more, too much to mention. When all of the wonder and enchantment are added to the emotional intensity (and often great tenderness) of Kay's writing style, the result is quite compelling.

    I also like that the books aren't too long, but still a lot happens and the characters change in great ways.

    Like in Kay's other books, some things happen that are quite unpredictable (to me, anyway). For example I had no idea until it was revealed what the outcome of Darien's story would be.

    My only complaint would be the Arthur thread. It really seemed so old, so cliched, even though he wrote the characters beautifully. But there was enough original material in the books that the Arthur stuff didn't bother me too much.

    All in all, a very entertaining and often poignant read (I cried several times near the end.) I thought The Darkest Road (#3) was by far the best book, followed by The Summer Tree (#1) and The Wandering Fire (#2).

  13. #13
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Loved the series myself, and I had the toughest time finding the full set when I wanted to read it. I later found out the publisher was in the process of letting the Mass Market version go out of print and was going to reprint them as the larger paperbacks on the shelves now with the amazing Wurts/Maitz artwork.

    Julian did a fine job of summing up the series.

  14. #14
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    I liked it, except Kay's writing style (at least then) seemed very focused on dialogue and internal monologue, and lacked a bit elsewhere.

    Also, it was slightly over-melodramatic, but that was typical of the time.

    Great feel however, and you get the sense that his characters are real people with faults and facets.

  15. #15
    et in arcadia ego Calandra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miriamele
    I just finished reading The Fionavar Tapestry. On the whole I enjoyed it very much. As others in this thread have pointed out, this trilogy is a lot different from Kay's other works. While I am a big fan of just about everything he's written, in some ways I liked Fionavar better than his newer stuff.

    The main reason I liked it better than his later works is that magic plays a huge role in the story. (Magic is fun; it's the main reason I read fantasy.) Dragons, unicorns, elves (in the Lios Alfar), giants, dwarves, mages, gods and goddesses, a magic cauldron, a sorcerous ring, and an enchanted dagger are all present. And a lot more, too much to mention. When all of the wonder and enchantment are added to the emotional intensity (and often great tenderness) of Kay's writing style, the result is quite compelling.

    I also like that the books aren't too long, but still a lot happens and the characters change in great ways.

    Like in Kay's other books, some things happen that are quite unpredictable (to me, anyway). For example I had no idea until it was revealed what the outcome of Darien's story would be.

    My only complaint would be the Arthur thread. It really seemed so old, so cliched, even though he wrote the characters beautifully. But there was enough original material in the books that the Arthur stuff didn't bother me too much.

    All in all, a very entertaining and often poignant read (I cried several times near the end.) I thought The Darkest Road (#3) was by far the best book, followed by The Summer Tree (#1) and The Wandering Fire (#2).

    I agree with most of what you said above.

    At first I wasn't sure about it - I'm not usually a huge fan of "cross-over" fantasy, and I thought that the "real world" characters adapted pretty quickly to a very strange situation. I then grew to like it also, until the King Arthur stuff, which I found a bit contrived. But those criticisms aside, I thought that it was a great read, and came into its own in the final book.

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