Read-along: The Wandering Fire by Guy Gavriel Kay (week 3)

And too quickly we come to the end of this second volume of The Fionavar Tapestry (even if I am late in posting my responses). This read-along has been led by the marvellous imyril of There’s Always Room for One More, and the final week’s prompts have been supplied by the impeccable Peat from Peat Long’s Blog.

I don’t have to warn you there will be SPOILERS, right?

OK. Onwards!

 

Five questions for five friends seems right, and the first concerns Darien. We’ve seen a lot of the young and slightly less young andain as he goes through a rapid and terrible coming of age. Would you have handled it differently? Do you think he’ll be alright?

This poor kid! So much seems to sit with him, and while he may have suddenly grown up physically, I don’t believe for a minute that he will have mentally matured as well. I think it’s said somewhere (or someone has said it in a post?) that because of his parentage he is perfectly balanced between the Dark and the Light. Which suggests that whichever way he falls, eventually, will decide the whole fight.

I know this is easy to say, but I’d have dealt with everything differently! I’d have talked to him about the loss of Finn. And not in riddles or oblique statements. I’d have tried to give him some way of expressing his feelings about this loss, so massive for him, and about how to keep Finn alive in his memory. I’d also have told him who his mother and father are. Whether he’s a child or not, his knowing from the get-go is far preferable to the shock of finding out later. Finding something out when you’re young seems so tied up with secrets and taboos and I feel like too many hang-ups are caused by this kind of thing. And I’d have talked to him about the things he can do. Maybe asked a few questions.

Basically, I’d have acted in completely the opposite way to a 1980s Fantasy novel character. Do excuse my lack of imagination! I did like the way Brendel was with Darien though. Maybe he should go to the lios alfar for help.

But, NO, I DON’T THINK HE’LL BE ALRIGHT! I have a bad, bad feeling about where his path may take him next. Bad, I tell you!

 

If one thing has dominated the thoughts of the four survivors in this final part, it is the memory of the fifth. Are there any reactions to Kevin’s sacrifice that particularly caught you? Any reactions you might have expected, but didn’t see?

I was most interested in Jennifer’s reaction to Kevin’s sacrifice and that she comes back to herself after it. I especially liked Matt’s words to her, at Aideen’s grave:

“We are not slaves to the Loom. Nor are you only Guinevere – you are Jennifer now, as well. You bring your own history to this hour, everything you have lived. You bring Kevin here within you, and you bring Rakoth, whom you survived.”

I found it interesting, too, that while each of the friends grieves for Kevin, it’s a kind of weary grief. A lot has happened, and there’s a lot still to come, and it feels as if they don’t have the time to lose themselves in sorrow.

 

Maugrim’s reaction to the defeat of General Winter is predictably violent and it is the Dalrei – and their unlooked-for allies – who take the brunt of it. And give the brunt of it too! Tell us of your reactions to the Battle for the Plain.

Holy cow! I don’t normally think much of battle scenes because I feel like they go on too long and I get bored of all the sword swinging (unless it’s done really well), but this was brutal! It helped a lot that we saw it mostly from Dave’s POV – of the five friends he’s become my favourite: of all of them he’s the least … *snaps fingers searching for word* … mystical, if that makes sense? He’s still Dave. While Kim’s having visions, Jennifer’s caught up in her newly discovered past-life, and Paul’s being all mysterious and puzzled by turns, Dave is still being Dave. More comfortable in his own skin and less inclined to sulking, but still Dave.

And the lios alfar joining with the Dalrei to fight gave me delicious shivers. So few against so many made my heart hurt. When Avaia and her brood joined the battle, I despaired. And when Dave called Owein and the Wild Hunt I was oh-so-briefly ecstatic, and then horrified.

I need to know who has survived and who has fallen. Sod Dave’s mucking about in the grove with the goddess! Who’s alive and who’s dead Kay?

 

But there are other battles too when you sail north into the north wind. The Soulmonger! The Cauldron! Yet more sacrifice! How much of this did you see coming? How much surprised you? Would you have made Matt’s demand, or Arthur’s choice?

It all surprised me, pretty much. The only thing I kind of expected was some sort of beastie or magical guardian at Cader Sedat, but not the form it would take. And holy cow! None of the lios alfar have ever made it to their resting place because of the Soulmonger? That’s harsh. Sheesh.

What Metran was doing with the Cauldron was awful too. And then what Matt had Loren do to defeat Metran … oof. In fact, this last section was just one awful thing after another.

As for Arthur’s choice: Arthur’s an idiot. The whole ‘I killed the children and therefore must suffer’ thing has gotten old really quickly and I don’t see why he couldn’t just leave Lancelot where he lay, go back to Jennifer/Guinevere and just be happy for a bit before Maugrim eats the whole world. Would it be so very wrong to make a selfish choice for once? (Yeah, yeah, I know – It’d be terrible).

I suppose I’m glad Lancelot isn’t someone we already know. But I really hope he doesn’t put a spanner in the works. It was actually a huge relief to see Jennifer open herself back up to love after everything she’s been through. I don’t want her story to end in the usual way, (*whispers* come on Kay, don’t let me down here).

 

And so concludes The Wandering Fire. It has struck, and it has kindled great pain and suffering. Looking back over the whole, are there any moments of foreshadowing you particularly appreciate? Book arcs you love or hate?

I’m so bad at picking up on foreshadowing. I can’t think of anything I noticed in particular, I’m afraid, (although I admit my reading of this last section has been very broken up). I hate that Lancelot has shown up, (blooming love triangles – ugh!), but I love what happened between Loren and Matt right at the end! That right there, that’s what I’m talking about. More surprises like that, please, in The Darkest Road!

Random thing: I really liked the whole Cader-Sedat-at-the-centre-of-all-the-worlds thing. That was cool.

I am also dying to know: Who’s the bald dude who attacked Kim and Brock in the mountains? What does he and his people have to do with the Paliako? Are they the ones who’ve been smoking the Paliako out and eating them? When will we see more of the Paliako? Are Kim and Brock OK? Also, where will Darien turn up next? Will Maugrim find out he has a son? Is Gereint dead after helping Paul? Who has survived the Battle of the Plain? Who’s going to tell the remaining lios alfar that none of their predecessors made it to their place created by the Weaver? And what does it all mean?

 

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH…

 

5 comments

  1. It’s not so much a cliffhanger as dropping us on top of a mountain in the middle of an ENORMOUS range and seeing just how afraid we are of heights, y’know? AAAAAAAH.

    And I think your approach to Darien is rather more sensible than Paul’s. Poor Darien. He needs to be loved and he needs help processing grief (…aaaaand I guess Paul really isn’t the best person to help with THAT, is he?) and he needs time, which is a luxury that nobody has. Your point about how none of the four can really indulge in their grief because the hits just keep on coming is spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Paul as a grief counsellor?! Nope. 🤣

      And yeah, still screaming from the fall of that ending, like arghhhhhhhh *takes a breath* arghhhhhhhhhhhhh…

      Like

  2. I forgot about Gereint!! I also want to know if he’s still alive and WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER DALREI???

    I like how harsh you are about Arthur, and honestly you’re right, he’s an idiot for making himself suffer!

    Liked by 1 person

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