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War for the Oaks: A Novel [Paperback]

Emma Bull
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 6 2001
Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy.

Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But her boyfriend just dumped her, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk—and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point.

By turns tough and lyrical, fabulous and down-to-earth, War for the Oaks is a fantasy novel that’s as much about this world as about the other one. It’s about real love and loyalty, about real music and musicians, about false glamour and true art. It will change the way you hear and see your own daily life.

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From Amazon

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A good book got lost in all the waste July 8 2003
Books like this are the reason I tend to avoid fantasy novels. Emma Bull's War for the Oaks has everything I don't like about the genre: stilted fairy dialogue and a preponderance of overblown florid prose.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous piece of writing . . . June 7 2003
I first read this lovely, lyrical invention of urban rock ï¿n' roll fantasy when Emma was pretty much an unknown quantity, a California transplant in Minnesota writing and singing with Cats Laughing. While she has (unfortunately) never quite hit the Big Time, she spawned a number of imitators. But she still does it better than anyone. Eddi is a full-time rocker, a rhythm guitarist with the gift of musical poetry. She's also just the mortal the forces of Faerie need to bring death to their hidden wars, fought in the parks and by the streams of Minneapolis. To protect her between battles from their equally magical opponents, the Seelie Court sends a phouka, a tricksy sprite who moves into her life and eventually into her heart. But this is more than just a fairy tale: It's a story of art and the people who create it, the band Eddi builds with the help of two fey musicians, and the magical power she herself acquires. The characters are richly drawn and fully realized and Emma's ability to put the reader into the process of making music is truly spine-tingling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars At last, a reprint! Feb. 22 2003
I can not highly recomend this book enough, assuming you like 'urban fairie'. It's funny and sweet and sad and pulls you in. Its hard to put into words, and there are many other reviews that describe more. Vaguely it has some similarities to DeLints urban fairie but with more humor. Yet its a serious book, not a comedy. I do love a book where the lead female a has a good case of 'smartmouth'. But for while it was out of print, the average price on the used market was [$$good}! And that is for a plain ordinary unremarkable book in no more then average condition. Is THAT a clue? It took me two years before something came up for less, and thats using some special internet firms that search THOUSANDS of books sellers lists and notifiy you when there are matches. Im not sure why Emma Bull is rather unknown, but her style is unique. This is the lightest of her books, many of them are deeper, so perhaps not everyone enjoys reading them. THIS book though is as close to 'universally popular' as I think something can get,(except for evanovich's mysteries). If i tried to describe the wardrobe thing I think it would detract, but I can say that I never looking at picking my clothes without a giggle now. And I notice that books that DONT describe what people are wearing gets a down from me. I did notice that Charlene Harris (?) of the southern vampire series does this very well too! But someone else might make it tedious. its the WAY she does it, not what she does.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Urban Fantasy/Mythic Fiction, Just read it Nov. 28 2002
This is the book which began it all for me. I loved this book, and though I am now addicted to authors like Charles de Lint and Terry Windling (check out her web page for some amazing explorations and essays about mythic fiction), no other book has quite touched Emma Bull's in my opinion, extremely biased as it is on this score. I'm completely in love with Eddie and her puck (nothing like Eddie and the Cruisers, trust me). This is one of the few books I can remember reading where the female character stays strong and certain of herself throughout the entire work (check out Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown for another one, and another of my all-time favorites). Yet, the book never for a second gets mired down in self-pity or movie-of-the-week woman-as-doormat melodrama. Okay, I'm going to put down the keyboard and walk away now, 'cause I could list more reasons why I love this book and risk boring you into not reading it for yourself. Did I mention the main character plays lead guitar in her own band? How cool is that!!
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Irritating
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 more
Published on Oct. 27 2009 by Wooden Shoe
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not something I'd read again.
Some good writing interspersed with long boring sections of "deep and meaningful" lyrics when then band plays. Read more
Published on May 8 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars This in my "go-to" book....
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 more
Published on April 19 2003 by chandeeregreen
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books I've Ever Read
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 more
Published on Jan. 14 2003 by "ladylylia"
4.0 out of 5 stars Fey, death, and Rock 'n' roll . . .
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 more
Published on Oct. 15 2002 by Stephanie Zuercher
4.0 out of 5 stars Rockin' in the Sidhe World *grin*
Anyone who likes urban fantasy should go "back to basics" and pick up this defining classic of the subgenre. Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2002 by Kelly (Fantasy Literature)
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic.
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 more
Published on March 1 2002 by Tia126
3.0 out of 5 stars slow and pondering
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 more
Published on Jan. 23 2002 by William E. Warner
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it!
War of the Oaks is another great spin on the world of the Fey. The story, character development was right on. Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2002 by "hr2go"
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