War for the Oaks: A Novel Paperback – Jul 6 2001
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Emma Bull's debut novel, War for the Oaks, placed her in the top tier of urban fantasists and established a new subgenre. Unlike most of the rock & rollin' fantasies that have ripped off Ms. Bull's concept, War for the Oaks is well worth reading. Intelligent and skillfully written, with sharply drawn, sympathetic characters, War for the Oaks is about love and loyalty, life and death, and creativity and sacrifice.
Eddi McCandry has just left her boyfriend and their band when she finds herself running through the Minneapolis night, pursued by a sinister man and a huge, terrifying dog. The two creatures are one and the same: a phouka, a faerie being who has chosen Eddi to be a mortal pawn in the age-old war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Eddi isn't interested--but she doesn't have a choice. Now she struggles to build a new life and new band when she might not even survive till the first rehearsal.
War for the Oaks won the Locus Magazine award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Society Award. Other books by Emma Bull include the novels Falcon, Bone Dance (second honors, Philip K. Dick Award), Finder (a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award), and (with Stephen Brust) Freedom and Necessity; the collection Double Feature (with Will Shetterly); and the picture book The Princess and the Lord of Night. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
Originally published by Ace in 1987, this reprint of a minor fantasy cult classic should attract new readers with its appealing and unusual blend of the world of rock and roll performers with the coexistent world of Faerie. Guitarist and singer Eddi McCandry has just left a floundering band and is organizing a new one when a phouka, a man who at times is a talking dog, becomes her guardian at the behest of the Faerie Folk. Eddi soon finds herself involved with warring Faerie groups, the Seelie Court and its noble queen versus the Unseelie Court, ruled by the evil Queen of Air and Darkness. The Seelie Court has chosen Eddi because there's "power in a mortal soul that all of Faerie cannot muster." Eddi's tart humor helps lend reality. When the phouka says, "Forth to honor and glory," she responds, "Get stuffed." For many readers, the fey qualities of the wispy fantasy may be enough; Eddi even labels her new band Eddi and the Feys. The strength of the novel, however, is in the nonfantasy scenes. These demonstrate a sure knowledge of rock music and the field, and contribute to the climax, a struggle between Eddi and the dark queen at a concert. In an appendix of special interest to fans, Bull (Bone Dance, etc.) includes excerpts of a screenplay version of the book she and her husband, Will Shetterly, wrote. A film appears an unlikely bet, but the author's prose portrayal of Faerie infringing on the real world remains an imaginative triumph.
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Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, there is a decent novel hiding underneath all the garbage. Eddi McCandry is a rock chick who unwittingly becomes selected to be the mortal mascot for a war between the light and dark sides of Faerie. The scenes with Eddi and her friends and bandmates Carla, Dan, Willy, and Hedge are what make this novel tolerable. The music scene of Minneapolis is given some play and makes me want to visit.
But interspersed between these really cool scenes about a rock band on the make are purple patches of fairy-type creatures (each, it seems, with a different style of speech) and their silly little battles with each other. This war they're fighting seems like nothing more than a couple of egos playing "Yes I will; No you won't" over and over again. I didn't give a whit about it and tended to skim those scenes after a while.
A novel about Eddi and her friends would be a fun book indeed, but War for the Oaks was in many ways underwhelming. I don't regret reading it (at least now I know what my friends at Green Man Review are talking about), but I don't know if I'll search out any other Emma Bull novels to read any time soon. Specifically, the transition between different styles of speech hurt my head after a long time reading, and I would have to read something else to take my mind off it.
It's considered a classic of the genre, so if you like a combination of low and high fantasy, you'll likely find something to enjoy in War for the Oaks. However, if fighting fairies aren't your cup of tea, or if you prefer tightly-written fiction, stay far away.
Most recent customer reviews
I initially bought this book because one of my favourite authors suggested Emma Bull's novels as an example of good contemporary fantasy/sci-fi. Read morePublished on Oct. 27 2009 by Wooden Shoe
Some good writing interspersed with long boring sections of "deep and meaningful" lyrics when then band plays. Read morePublished on May 8 2004
the one that, when I have nothing new to read, I go back to the shelf and pick this one up again. And again. Read morePublished on April 19 2003 by C. S. Rambo
War for the Oaks is urban fantasy at its best. Her writing style isn't grandiose or epic the way Tolkien or Lord Dunsany's is, but it has a gritty, lyrical beauty. Read morePublished on Jan. 14 2003
I read this book about three years ago, back when it was still out of print, and I was very excited when I heard it was being reprinted. Read morePublished on Oct. 15 2002 by Stephanie Zuercher
Anyone who likes urban fantasy should go "back to basics" and pick up this defining classic of the subgenre. Read morePublished on Sept. 13 2002 by Kelly (Fantasy Literature)
One of the first and perhaps the best contemporary "faerie" story. I bought it when it originally came out many years ago and have re-read it often since then; each time... Read morePublished on March 1 2002 by Tia126
The premise of this book is great but the writer doesn't get to it until past the middle of the book. Many pages are spent describing the mundane daily life of the main character. Read morePublished on Jan. 23 2002 by William E. Warner