He is drawn from his home in Northern California into the parallel world of Faerie, for, unknown to him, he is a pivotal figure in a war between certain of Faerie's powerful lords and the rest of the strange creatures who live in this exotic realm.
|Sold by:||Penguin Group|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
THE WAR of the FLOWERS
By Tad Williams
DAW BOOKS, INC.Copyright © 2003 Tad Williams
All right reserved.
THEO felt a small flutter of guilt as he turned the cell phone back on, especially when he noticed he'd left it off for more than two hours, and was relieved to see that there were no messages. He'd only meant to flick it off for a few minutes, just to make sure there were no interruptions while they were tuning-the young guys, especially Kris, the guitarist, got really pissy about that-but things had started happening and he'd forgotten.
Johnny stepped over the guitar cases spread across the living room rug like discarded cocoons and slid open the door to join him outside. The fog had come down the hill while they had been practicing; the fenced patio seemed an island in a cold, misty sea.
Jesus, San Francisco in March. He should have brought his jacket out. Might as well be in Minnesota. "Hey," he asked Johnny, "got a smoke?"
The drummer made a face and patted his shirt pocket, then his pants pockets. He was small but he had long, strong arms. With his paunch and his shaggy but balding head, the chest hair climbing out of his T-shirt collars, he always made Theo think of the soulful chimpanzees in that Englishwoman's documentaries.
When Johnny found the pack at last, he shook out one for Theo, then one for himself and lit it. "Man, you never have your own."
"Never buy any. I only smoke when I'm playing."
Johnny shook his head. "That's so typical, Vilmos-you always get the easy road. I'm an addict, you only smoke when you want to-like, when you're around me. I'll probably be the one who gets cancer, too."
"Probably." Theo considered calling home, but he was going to be leaving in a few minutes anyway. Still, Cat was very deep into I'm-pregnant-and-I-want-to-know-where-you-are mode ... He felt another rippie of guilt and couldn't decide what to do. He stared at the phone, as perplexed as if it were an artifact of a vanished civilization.
"Your old lady leave a message?" Johnny was the only one in the band who was Theo's age but he talked like he was even older, unashamedly using words like "chicks" and "hip." Theo had actually heard him say "out of sight" once, but he had sworn later he was being ironic. Johnny was also the only one who'd even understand something as archaic as phoning home. Kris and Dano and Morgan were in that early-twenties stage where they just paged their girlfriends to announce when they were dropping by after practice to have sex.
"Nah. I gotta get going, anyway."
Johnny flipped his cigarette over the fence and out into the street, a tiny shooting star. "Just listen to the playback on 'Feast,' first. You don't want Kris's asshole to get any more puckered than it already is, do you?" He smiled deep in his beard and started peeling off the athletic tape he wrapped around his knuckles before playing because he bashed them against the rims so hard. Theo thought that he'd rather have scars than the pink, hairless patches that striped Johnny's hairy hands, but Johnny was a seemingly permanently single guy who hadn't had a date in months, so he didn't worry much about things like that.
Theo did. He was seriously considering whether it was time to cut his moderately long brown hair. It was bad enough to have turned thirty and still be singing in garage bands without looking like an aging stoner, too.
As it turned out, Theo spent at least another half an hour listening to the demo tracks they had recorded for "Feast of Fools," a sort of high-Goth processional that Kris had written, and over which the guitarist fussed like a neurotic chef preparing for an important dinner party. He had more than a few irritating things to say about Theo's vocal, wanting more rasp in it, more of an air of menace, the kind of melodrama that Theo didn't much like.
On their last listen, as Kris bobbed his close-cropped head to his own music, his expression oddly combining pleasure and pain, Theo had a sudden flash of insight: He's going to want to do the vocal on this himself-that's where this is going. And even though I'm a hundred times better, eventually he's going to get his confidence and want to do all the lead vocals himself And that'll be it for me with this band.
He wasn't certain how he felt about that. On the one hand, much as he admired the young guys' playing and Kris Rolle's musical ideas, it wasn't anything like his ideal band. For a start, he hated the name-The Mighty Clouds of Angst. It was clumsy. Worse, it was a joke name, playing off a famous gospel group, The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Theo believed firmly that joke names equaled joke bands, the Beatles notwithstanding. Plus, it just irritated him. Kris, Morgan, and Dano weren't even old enough to remember The Mighty Clouds of Joy, so why pick that as a name to parody? It smacked a little of white suburban boys making fun of earnest, religious black people, and that made Theo uncomfortable. But if he ever mentioned it, he knew they'd just show him that fishlike stare they had perfected, the all-purpose defense against hopelessly uncool parents and teachers, and he would feel even older than he did.
So when dial I wind up on the wrong side of that particular line?
He eased on his ancient leather jacket and bummed another smoke off John for the road-or for borne, rather, since it was pretty hard to smoke while wearing a motorcycle helmet. He looked around, feeling like he was leaving something behind. Lead singers didn't carry much in the way of equipment. The mikes and PA belonged to Morgan and Kris. Theo could walk away from the Clouds as easily as he was strolling out the door tonight. If he was good at anything, it was leaving when things got too weird.
If he did get forced out, would Johnny quit too? Theo wasn't sure how he felt about that. This was the third band he'd played in with Johnny Battistini, following the obligatory should-have-made-it-big disaster in which they'd met and the horrible cover band in which they'd marked time until hooking up with Kris and company. Theo wouldn't mind the downtime of looking for another gig, and God knew Catherine would be happy to have him home some nights, especially with the baby coming, but o1' Johnny B. didn't have a lot else going on in his life. Besides his record store job and the Clouds, in fact, John was pretty much the kind of guy advertisers made fun of but who kept their clients in business-an amiable lump who lived on take-out food, rented porn movies in bunches, and watched wrestling by himself.
Kris looked up from yet another playing of "Feast of Fools" as Theo reached the door. "You going?" He sounded irritated. Kris had gray eyes like a sky before a storm, the kind of eyes in which teenage girls probably saw things that weren't really there at all.
No, Theo wanted to say. No, I'm going to hang around here and stay up all night smoking dope and marveling at my own brilliance, just like you guys, because I've got nothing better to do and nobody on my ass about when I come home.
"Can't stay," he said instead. "I've got a pregnant girlfriend, remember?" And for a self-righteous moment he almost forgot he had left the phone off for two hours.
Kris rolled his eyes, dismissing the entire unimaginably boring subject, then punched the buttons on the DAT deck with his long fingers, rewinding the tape to listen to his feedback-heavy solo again. Morgan and Dano bobbed their heads once each in Theo's direction, which he assumed was to save the energy of waving. John smiled at him, sharing the joke, although unlike Theo he was going to stay and hang out with these kids a decade younger than himself, sharing bong hits and loose talk about a hypothetical first album until one of two in the morning. "Stay loose, Thee," he called.
Theo's ancient Yamaha started on the first kick. It seemed like a good sign.
The bedroom light was out but the television was flickering behind the blinds, which meant Catherine was probably still up. Even though she hadn't tried to call him, he had a feeling she wouldn't be too happy with him coming in after midnight. Theo hesitated, then sat down on the porch steps to smoke the cigarette Johnny had given him. The streetlamps made little pools of light down the sidewalk that ran in front of the dark houses. It was a quiet neighborhood in the Western Addition, a working neighborhood, full of people who watched Letterman or Leno through the opening monologue and then switched off because they had to be up early. A wind sent leaves rattling and rolling up the street.
I'm dying here, he thought suddenly. I don't belong here.
He had surprised himself. If not here, then where? What was he going to find that was any better? It was true that he never felt quite alive except when he was singing, making music-he often had the disturbing feeling that in his job, his conversations, even sometimes being with Cat, he was just going through the motions-but he felt sure he was past the childish dreams of being a rock star. He would be happy just to play club dates in front of live human beings every few weeks. No, this was what he wanted, wasn't it-a house, a grown-up life? It was certainly what Catherine Lillard wanted, and he wanted her. He'd been with her for almost two years. That was nearly forever, wasn't it? Practically married, even before they'd received the test results.
Theo walked across the tiny lawn to the sidewalk and flicked his cigarette into the gutter, then went inside. The television was on, but there was only a tangled blanket in Cat's usual curling-up spot on the couch.
"Hey, honey? Cat?" The kitchen was dark, but it smelled like she'd been cooking: there was a weird, spicy scent in the air, something both sweet and a little sickening. The windows were open and it was a nice March night, but the air inside the small house felt as close as if a thunderstorm were moving in.
"Cat? It's me." He shrugged. Maybe she'd gone to bed and left the television on. He wandered down the hall and saw that the light was on in the bathroom, but that was nothing unusual-Cat hated fumbling for the switch when she was half-awake of barking her shin in the dark on something left in the hall. He took little notice of the bundle on the floor against the far bathroom wall. It was the red smears on the side of the tub that caught his eye instead, weirdly vivid against the porcelain. He pushed the door all the way open.
It took perhaps two full seconds to realize what he was seeing, the longest two seconds he had ever experienced, a sideways lurch of reality as disorienting as a hallucination. Blood was smeared across the bathroom floor behind the door, too, screamingly scarlet under the fluorescents. Cat's terrycloth bathrobe, rolled somehow into a huge lump and flung against the wall near the toilet, was soaked in it as well.
"Oh my God ..." he said.
The bathrobe shuddered and rolled over, revealing Catherine's pale face. Her skin was like a white paper mask except for the bloody fingerprints on both cheeks-her own, as he found out later. But for a moment he could only stare, his chest clamped in crushing shock, his brain shrilling murder murder murder over and over.
He was right. But he didn't find that out until later, either. Much later.
Cat's eyes found his face, struggled to focus. A parched whisper: "Theo ...?"
"My God, my God, what happened? Are you ...?"
Her throat convulsed so powerfully he thought she was going to vomit-he had a terrible image of blood gushing out of her mouth like a fountain. The ragged sound that leaped from her instead was so horribly raw and ragged that he could not at first understand the words.
He was down on his knees in the sopping fingerpainted mess of the bathroom floor, the slick, sticky scarlet-where had it all come from, all this red wetness? He was trying to help her up, panicking, an idiot voice telling him Don't move her, she's an accident victim, but he didn't know what had happened, what could have possibly have happened, did someone get in ...? Then suddenly he understood.
"I lost it!" she moaned, more clear now that there was almost no air left in the cry. "Oh, Jesus, I lost the baby!"
He was halfway across the house to the phone when he realized his own cell phone was in his pocket. He called 911 and gave them the address while simultaneously trying to wrap towels around the outside of her bathrobe, as though she were some immense wound that needed to be held together. She was crying, but it made almost no sound.
When he had finished he held her tightly against him, waiting to hear the sound of the paramedics at the door.
"Where were you?" Her eyes were shut and she was shivering. "Where were you?"
Hospitals were like T. S. Eliot poems, somehow-well-lit wastelands, places of quiet talk that could not quite hide the terrible things going on behind the doors. Even when he went out to the lobby to stretch his legs, to walk off some of the horrible, helpless tension, he felt like he was pacing through a mausoleum.
Cat's blood loss had not been as mortal as Theo had felt it must be. Some of the mess had been amniotic fluid and splashed water from the hot bath she had taken when the cramps first started becoming painful. The doctors talked calmly to him of premature rupture of membranes, of possible uterine abnormalities, but it might have been Byzantine religious ritual for all his poleaxed brain could make of it. Catherine Lillard slept most of the first ten hours, face pale as a picture-book princess, IVs jacked into both arms. When she opened her eyes at last, she seemed like a stranger.
Excerpted from THE WAR of the FLOWERS by Tad Williams Copyright © 2003 by Tad Williams
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
|Part 1||Goodnight Nobody|
|2||The Silent Primrose Maiden||42|
|4||The Hungry Thing||67|
|6||A Corruption of Moonlight||96|
|Part 2||Last Exit to Fairyland|
|11||A Disturbance in The Forcing Shed||166|
|12||The Hollyhock Chest||180|
|13||A Change in the Weather||205|
|15||The Plains of Great Rowan||254|
|18||Sidewalks of New Erewhon||307|
|19||A Holiday Visit||334|
|20||Among the Creepers||339|
|21||In Thornapple House||366|
|22||Status Quo Ante||375|
|23||The Shadow on the Tower||402|
|Part 3||Flower War|
|24||The Bus Stop on Pentacle Street||429|
|25||A Million Sparks||439|
|26||Losing a Friend||456|
|28||Goblin Jazz Bandwagon||503|
|29||The Hole in the Story||526|
|31||In the Bloom Years||560|
|33||The Last Breath They Took||614|
|Part 4||The Lost Child|
|34||Interlude with Van Gogh Stars||635|
|35||A Sort of Reunion||648|
|37||The Ebony Box||685|
|38||The Broken Stick||702|
|Part 5||Fairytale Ending|
|43||The Limits of Magic||804|
|Index of People, Places, and Things||817|
What People are Saying About This
"A big, involving adventure...an accomplished and ambitious fantasist."—San Francisco Chronicle
"An addictive world with its own history, mythology, internal rules, and rich, intricate culture."—Salon
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Minor league California rocker Theo Vilmos feels he is at the bottom of the food chain when matters turn worse when he loses his pregnant girlfriend. Thirty, alone, and his music going nowhere, Theo feels down. He decides to get away to relook the direction of his life that seems to be in free fall. At his mother¿s remote cabin, Theo finds an ancient looking tome handwritten by his weird Uncle Eamon about another realm, that of Faerie. Soon Theo is shocked to learn Faerie exists when the sprite Applecore arrives at his abode. She escorts the reluctant musician through the gate to a magical land that quickly seems quite dismal to the visitor. War appears everywhere so much so that Theo feels his home planet seems relatively peaceful. While Theo begins to learn secrets about his gene pool, he falls in love, but this is a land in which life is not precious so he must show caution to survive especially when bombardier dragons attack. This stand-alone fantasy is a great satirizing of current conditions on planet earth as seen through a looking glass mirror. The story line is extremely dark and grim yet often humorous as the plot shreds anything and everything of proud filled boasts about our compassionate great society. Theo is a fine character who serves as the center of the myriad of subplots, but it is the cantankerous, nasty Applecore who steals the show with her tinkering and editing of words of wisdom. A tad wordy, perhaps, but fans of Tad Williams, which probably includes Jonathan Swift, will appreciate this cutting faerie tale. Harriet Klausner
I had this book sitting around for literally years, and had tried starting it once or twice previously before getting into it this time. It doesn't have to do with the writing itself, I think; it was probably because of the mood I was in at those times. The beginning of the book, like the first 150 pages or so, are also quite bleak; you get a sense of and empathize with how trapped the lead character, Theo, feels in his life, and it's not a fun place to be.Then the scene moves to Faerie, where there's a lot of world-building and character development, chases and lulls, etc. The story comes alive there, and since Theo is on the run for a lot of it, it's good that Williams gets across a real sense of urgency. Faerie as a place with its own rules that Theo isn't really aware of comes off nicely, and the main supporting cast is generally quite good. I liked the plot, and how it played out. The falling apart of a fairly feudal society seen through the eyes of someone who doesn't really know the problems with the system is pretty interesting.I had some problems with the pacing at points, though; there are lulls in the book, and there's a part which is ultimately like one conversation with bricks of exposition for a couple of chapters that really, I think, could have been better spread out over a couple of chapters. Which isn't to say I didn't like the exposition-giving character (to name who it is would be a spoiler); in fact, I think that's the most interesting character in the book.Stylistically, Williams is quite good, I think, and as I said, I liked most of the characters. I didn't really like the love interest subplot; it wasn't tacked on, but I didn't really buy it, either.The book is a fairly quick read once you get into it, especially for a 800+ page novel, but the beginning isn't fun. If you know that going in, I think it's better, so if you're in the mood for it, it's worth a try.
This is a great book, I love it. Wonderful characters and a great story...one of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It's not your cookie cutter fantasy novel. I was pleasantly surprised with his twist on what we expect the world of fairy to be like. There is a touch more reality than is common among fantasy works and it worked for me. I loved the way he writes the story partly in the real world. The fairy world has problems of its own. If you wish to avoid reality when reading fantasy, it might not be the book for you. It found it to be a very satisfying read.
Awful book. No real story and the story that's there is kind of boring. The plot goes nowhere, the protagonist stays very flat and not likable. There is not much good to say about this book other than it's
First let me say, I like Tad Williams. This is the second book of his I've read (the first was Tailchaser's Song, also a good read) and I did enjoy it. As another reviewer once said, Tad Williams' books breathe. His descriptions are vivid, his characters are real. That being said, this book ain't perfect.The book starts out introducing us to the great under-achiever Theo Vilmos. Theo Vilmos is a musician in yet another in a long line of "not terribly successful Northern California rock bands," as the cover blurb put it. His bandmates are kids a decade younger than his thiry years and his pregnant girlfriend Cat thinks he's irresponsible. When Cat loses the baby, Theo's life is on the rocks. She dumps him from her hospital bed leaving him with a feeling like his world is falling apart and a mouthful of nasty words. So Theo moves back into his mother's house and gets a 'real' job, but life isn't done giving him little surprises as he finds out his mother has cancer. After her death, Theo finds himself a cabin in the woods and that's where life gives him the biggest surprise of all.After an incident in his cabin with an undead corpse and a sprite, Theo finds himself in the realm of Faerie and in a whole lot of trouble. He's in a world he doesn't understand and there don't seem to be too many people looking out for his safety, the foul-mouthed fairy sprite Applecore being the reluctant exception. The book becomes pretty fast paced after Theo's arrival and we begin to learn all about this new and dangerous Faerie and the government corruption that pervades all major political machinations and makes the lower class fairies resentful.When you think fairies, you usually start thinking cutesy little flying people named after fruits and pretty flowers and you think it's all fairy dust and happiness. The author does a good job with overcoming that popular association and making the fairies seem amoral, alien, ruthless, and in some cases very sinister.The players are all well characterized and represented, the villains included. It's a common disappointment when I'm reading traditional fantasy books to come across villains that are evil simply to be evil and that have no real motivation to want to destroy the world other than because it seems like a good idea at the time. The villains here have motivations for their actions and some part of me thought as I was reading this that were I in their position, I might have seriously considered doing what they're doing. The means they use make you a little less sympathetic to their cause as the book goes on however and this might be a good time to mention that if you were personally deeply affected by the tragedy of 9/11, you may want to skip this one. As the author states in his acknowledgement in the very front of the book, he tried to avoid any uncanny similarities to 9/11 after the fact, but the event in the book that resembles 9/11 had been a major plot point in drafts predating the tragedy. It's a very grim part of the book and a major event in the plot, so be aware of that before you decide to read this.The things I didn't like - the fact that the protagonist changes throughout from a shallow, irresposible sort of loser to a more grown up kind of guy is really shoved into the reader's face as though to make sure we didn't miss it even as obvious as it was. That bugged me. Also, when Theo arrives in Faerie, the way the natives reacted to him and treat him really angered me. Some of the things that ocurred seem to go along the lines of proving to us again how shallow Theo was, but his actions didn't strike me as anything other than what a normal human being in that situation would do. The things that were dubbed shallow by the other characters were understandable reactions to people and things Theo had no experience with and didn't understand. I found this an annoyance rather than anything that added to the story.Specific things I liked - Applecore, for one. She's my favorite character from
Best half book I've ever read. First half was amazing, 2nd half couldn't live up to it
Overall, a good solid fantasy read. Who doesn't like the "get tossed into a fantasy dimension and have an adventure" story?
Although the story starts a little slowly, it eventually picks up speed until it almost becomes frantic. There were enough plot twists to keep it interesting, but a few things were a bit predictable.I enjoyed the depiction of Faerie as something refreshingly real, with its own problems, politics and prejudices. The characters were well-developed, although I am not a big fan of the "unhero" as the main character.All in all, I enjoyed this book, and I think it would make a great movie.
Okay. This wasn't my favorite TW, but it had the most interesting setting.I think my main problem here was that, at 800 pages, IT WASN'T LONG ENOUGH! A lot of plot threads that, with more length, could have played out into something beautiful and strange, but had to stay as asides due to space restrictions. The beginning was slow but fascinating, the ending faster and more like the normal TW rush. I wanted more about the uncle, in the end.
That rarest of things: a work of fantasy fiction complete in one volume. Not so much an interesting premise, the back and forth/give and take between faerie and the "mortal" world has certainly been done to death BUT the way faerie is handled here as an oligarchy with an underclass of goblins, sprites, etc., quite interesting. Also the way faerie echoes the "modern" world of drones working in offices. What was not so good were some of the decidedly insipid characters and rather lame dialogue. We're talking straight from central casting. Plus the ending. Lame.Still, better than average, though I was riveted to the text at page 200, wearied by page 400 and irritated by the last 30 or so pages.
This is a bit of a different take on the idea of a faerie world in parallel to our own. A human from our world, a bit of a loner and failure, ends up in the world of Faerie in the middle of a war between different factions. Most of those factions hate humans and want them all dead, including those in our world. With powers capable of destroying whole cities, this one lone human, must find allies and try to prevent the destruction of our world. Imaginative, well written and creative. If you've read other Tad Williams books, you know what to expect, and you won't be disappointed.
I was enthralled and delighted by this novel from Williams. Spun with a cast of quirky, fun, courageous characters against a backdrop of feud and conflict, it¿s nothing less than an adventure in pleasure to read. The setting is full of imagination, and the characters, though common in the land of faerie, are given such alluring personalities, they¿ll remain with you long after the last page is turned. A story of alternate universes, Theo Vilmos, a down on his luck musician, is drawn into a parallel world of gnomes, and faeries, and dragons and duels. The plotting is at times slow and detailed, but overall, the story keeps its own momentum and draws the reader ever forward with the protagonist. There¿s nothing new here in the way of fantasies which draw on parallel universes, but Williams¿ clever imagination makes almost every page offer up a tidbit of wonder and, just as often, a chuckle. There¿s a romance bound between the covers and it adds its own appeal and drive to the story. At 700 plus pages, it¿s a great winter book to curl up by the fireside with.
The only reason I am giving this 4 instead of 5 stars is because Tad Williams characters are so often whiney. A little slow at the beginning but got much better. I would love to see more of Theo and friends. What happens next? Are the king and queen alive? Please revisit Faire !!!!!!
I enjoyed reading this book although found some aspects of it to be overly tacky and annoying. Sometimes I felt the speech to be contrived, forced and irritatingly 1990's or 80's. Why so much cursing? In the fairy, now and then, it's endearing. The plot though is very enticing and although the main character irked me, I did want to see how everything turned out. I read this book because I read Tailchaser's Dream. The author's first book is his best, fantastic for its simplicity, and ironically, humastic nature. I loved the spiritual explorations too. Not unlike the hobbit of the cat world. Lovely. Thank you.
The War for the Flowers is a modern fantasy about a washed-out singer named Theo Vilmos. Theo doesn¿t believe in magic; he doesn¿t believe in anything. But when a monster crosses the border between worlds and tries to kill him, Theo realizes that it may be time to reconsider his beliefs. With the help of a Barbie-sized sprite named Applecore, Theo manages to escape with his life, only to find himself in a world that he had never dreamed existed: Faerie.
The author uses a lot of detailed similes and metaphors to describe Faerie, which are necessary for readers who are unfamiliar with it, such as: ¿The towers of Faerie were like the ones back home in Santa Fe,¿ and ¿Her skin was porcelain of the finest craftsmanship.¿
He also uses many onomatopoeias in the action-packed book to describe everything from the clanging of swords to the sound of a hovering pixie¿s wings, like ¿whoosh¿ and ¿clang¿.
The best part of The War for the Flowers is when Theo meets Applecore, because she is by far the best character in the book. He had always pictured sprites and faeries as being like something from a Disney movie. Applecore immediately changed that. Despite the fact that the sprite was only about six inches tall, she had more attitude than a stampeding rhino. She has the largest vocabulary of dirty words that Theo had ever heard and could consume almost as much alcohol as he could. But she was Theo¿s first and most loyal friend in Faerie, and without her, he wouldn¿t have made it very far.
The worst part of The War for the Flowers is when Theo¿s girlfriend miscarried their baby, because it¿s the part of the book where he¿s at his lowest. Even after being chased across a strange, mythical land, Theo never felt as badly as he did that night. To make matters worse, that was also the night that his girlfriend broke up with him, claiming that they had only still been together because of the baby.
I would strongly recommend The War for the Flowers to anyone who likes fantasy or science fiction, because the book is packed with everything from elf sword fights to time travel.
Rating: ¿¿¿ out of 5