In the three novels that make up the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy collected in this omnibus edition (The Summer Tree
, The Wandering Fire
, and The Darkest Road
), five University of Toronto students find themselves transported to a magical land to do battle with the forces of evil. At a Celtic conference, Kimberley, Kevin, Jennifer, Dave, and Paul meet wizard Loren Silvercloak. Returning with him to the magical kingdom of Fionavar to attend a festival, they soon discover that they are being drawn into the conflict between the dark and the light as Unraveller Rakoth Maugrim breaks free of his mountain prison and threatens the continued existence of Fionavar. They join mages, elves, dwarves, and the forces of the High King of Brennin to do battle with Maugrim, where Kay's imaginative powers as a world-builder come to the fore. He stunningly weaves Arthurian legends into the fluid mix of Celtic, Nordic, and Teutonic, creating a grand fantasy that sweeps readers into a heroic struggle that the author makes all the more memorable because of the tributes he pays to past masters.
The trilogy is a grand homage to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, but while the echoes of Tolkien's masterwork are very real, the books offer the wonderful taste of a new fantasy writer cutting his teeth at the foot of a master. Kay has a very real connection to Tolkien--as Christopher Tolkien's assistant, Kay was invaluable in helping to wrestle Tolkien's posthumous The Silmarillion into shape for publication. Kay is undoubtedly one of the Canadian masters of high fantasy, and The Fionavar Tapestry is one of his most enduring works. Readers, however, should also check out Kay's Tigana, A Song for Arbonne, The Lions of Al-Rassan, and The Sarantine Mosaic to truly experience a master at work. --Jeffrey Canton