readalong, Wyrd And Wonder

The Wandering Fire Read-Along: Week 1

It’s been a while, dear readers. My brain has had no blogging capacity since about mid-May, and though I managed to push through to the end of Wyrd and Wonder, I had to take a step back during June, and since then I’ve slowed my reading way down and actually started writing my own stuff again! I think I’ve finally found my character’s voice, which is exciting! But, of course, I had to make an effort for our readalong of book two in the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay: The Wandering Fire. I am very excited! Here’s a brief synopsis:

As the evil of Rakoth Maugrim threatens the very existence of Fionavar, the five from our own world must cross over once again to play out their given roles: Kimberly to summon the dead from their rest and the undead to their doom; Dave to take his place in battle among the Dalrei of the Plain; Paul, Lord of the Summer Tree, once more to weave his own bright thread through the tapestry; Jennifer to become the agent of a timeless destiny; and Kevin to discover finally the part he is to play in the struggle to save the Weaver’s worlds from the Unraveller.

Week one goes up to chapter 6, and the questions are hosted by the marvellous Imyril @ There’s Always Room For One More. This is a discussion-style post, not a review, and there will be spoilers!

What do you make of Jennifer’s decisions regarding Darien …and what do you think has happened to him?

First of all, Darien was quite the surprise! What a way to start things off… At the end of The Summer Tree I was worried Jennifer’s struggle and that horrible scene of Maugrim ruining her would have been glossed over, and I’m glad it wasn’t. I definitely didn’t expect there to be a child involved though, and I am incredibly curious as to how that develops, and astounded at the compassion Jen was able to have for the result of such a horrible experience. I think she made the best decision given the circumstances, though I would give a lot to see a fantasy story where one of the party has an infant and everything just has to carry on as normal, rather than conveniently vanishing the baby until it’s old enough to contribute to the story (edit: I have also now read most of section two of the readalong and can see GGK used another convenient trope when it comes to children in fantasy). 

As for what has happened to him, I really can’t say! I don’t think that Fordaetha got to the family because otherwise there would be bodies or other indications, and Finn obviously has some part to play. It might be that he or Leila had some sort of premonition and the family fled, but this seems like one of those plot points that will make me go, ‘wait, what??’ later on. 

From tapping the avarlith to tapping a source to the uncontrollable magic of the Baelrath and the erratic blessings of a God – What are your thoughts on the magic systems of Fionavar?

Do I understand the magic? No. Do I think it’s cool? Absolutely! In some ways, though, it seems a bit too convenient, at least the aspects of Paul and Kim’s magic, though I think both of them are as frustrated as me not to understand it. But I suppose as Peat said in his post, it’s not quite magic as much as most characters being vessels for something else’s power and whim. It’s still a bit convenient sometimes… What I do like is that there are multiple sources of power within the world, all working with their own purpose and sometimes an agenda. It makes for interesting storytelling. But I don’t think I understand any of them particularly, at the moment. Although my biggest confusion is: what is the avarlith?

Where The Summer Tree established the legends of Fionavar, The Wandering Fire is full of Celtic motifs. How do you feel about the blending of fictional and folkloric inspiration? First time readers – any predictions for what this may mean for the story?

I love it, and the fact that Fionavar is presented as the first world that all others come from means that I don’t mind the author borrowing these legends to insert in his worldbuilding. I suspect I may weep over Arthur Pendragon before the end, and it won’t be the first time. I was expecting Arthur, I think, from moments in the first book, but I can’t remember now if it was explicit of if I saw someone else mention it, or if I’m just an Arthurian nerd. And, I have to say, I love this tragic and tired, yet noble and brave Arthur. He is A Good Man™.

I am so excited to see what the cave of sleepers is about, and I think this readalong may set me off on a Celtic myth binge, because I don’t actually know too many very well. So, fellow readers, if you have any recommendations for other Celtic inspired books/books about myth let me know! I do have one collection of myths and I am excited for The Children of Gods and Fighting Men by Shauna Lawless that is coming out soon.

…and any other thoughts on our five, their friends in Fionavar, magical winters or other topics – dive in!

First of all I have to say this: whereas the opening of The Summer Tree threw me with how quickly the five friends accept the existence of Fionavar and all action starts, in The Wandering Tree it does fit, and reminds me charmingly of all the Narnia books after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where the Pevensies are longing for Aslan to call them back. I wonder if it was intentional… the magical winter also seems an obvious Narnia call-back, especially given as the five special people from another world seem essential to stopping it (okay maybe just Kim and Paul).

In other news, I really missed Dave, aka Davor, and his relationship with the Dalrei. I am a bit sad we haven’t seen much of Torc yet, but I’m sure all in good time. I do like that we start back in Fionavar with the Dalrei, who in a lot of ways are the group we know best as a unit/culture compared to the other two main kingdoms. I also, despite myself, missed Diarmuid and his weird mixture of frat boy and sly tactician. I may spend the entire series confused about my feelings for this strange prince.

I can’t think of too much else, but I’m sure there’ll be plenty to discuss next week! I’ll be providing the questions, and should get them to you soon! I have one more chapter to go!

5 thoughts on “The Wandering Fire Read-Along: Week 1”

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