The War of the Flowers

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{{#if: War of the Flowers, The |
}}
{{#if: Tad Williams |
Author }}

{{#if: 0-7564-0181-X |

ISBN }}

{{#if: 2003 |

Published }}

{{#if: 816 |

Pages }}

{{#if: 2006.12.27 |

Date read }}

{{#if: 7 |

Rating /8|}}|}}


Very readable and had some interesting ideas. Maybe not a great book, but still entertaining.

Synopsis

Theo Vilmos is a thirty-something lead singer in a marginally successful rock band. Hitting an all-time low, he seeks refuge in an islolated cabin in the woods and reads an odd memoir written by a dead relative who believed he had visited the magical world of Faerie. Before Theo can disregard the account as nonsense, he too is drawn into a place beyond his wildest dreams. more

Review

I call this one an "Outsider Novel". An Outsider Novel is a novel in which a new society is created by the author and the reader comes to discover that society along with someone in the story who comes to that society from the outside.

The problem with a lot of outsider novels is that the author tends to occasionally forget that everyone else in the story is an "insider" and thus has the knowledge the audience/main character lacks. As an example of where this can go awry, consider an outsider novel in which a caterpillar has been raised by wolves. (Work with me here.) Suddenly the caterpillar is thrust into the society of other caterpillars and butterflies. With a lack of knowledge, the caterpillar is envious of the butterflies who can fly and thus starts inciting a riot. "Let us destroy the butterflies because they can fly and we can't! They supress us and keep us as slaves! They keep the secret of flight for themselves alone! Death to all butterflies!" Now, anyone from the caterpillar/butterfly society would just say "Just wait a few weeks and you'll be able to fly too." However, the author forgets that everyone in that society knows this fact, so he has all of the caterpillars joining in with our Outsider and rioting against the butterflies. Now any 2nd grader would tell you that that was just bad storytelling, even they know a caterpillar will become a butterfly in time.

Maybe all heroes are basically cowards like me, he thought, and it's doing whatever you have to do anyway that's important. I mean, if you aren't scared, if you're just completely oblivious to danger, how heroic is that?.
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This book is no exception. The "startling revelation" Theo has on the last page of the novel is something that any of his friends should have been able to tell him once it was discovered what he was. (i.e. midway through the book, when even I deduced this conclusion.) The fact they do not tell him every time he whines about it indicates that the author forgot that the rest of the characters were Insiders.

This is a minor quibble with the story as it really has "nothing" to do with the main plot except that his driving goal throughout the book is to do this thing, which he realizes he cannot do in the end. (And that's probably giving away too many spoilers if anyone is going to read the book, but, as I said, it's bad storytelling if I realize this half-way through the book. So it's not much of a spoiler.)

The second issue I have with the book is not the story itself, so it's not Tad Williams's fault. It was bad publishing. Basically, in my copy of the book, pages 320-353 were moved to after page 384. That's just annoying and the publisher should have caught it.

Finally, the third minor complaint I had was that anyone who has a little knowledge of fairy lore was able to guess what Theo was even before he went to Fairyland with all of the hints dropped. The fact that the author drags it out to be revealed mid-book was just a little tedious. I think it should have been revealed as soon as he dropped in.

A major issue I had with the story was that Theo's music didn't play a larger role, since it was hyped throughout. OK, so him humming to himself helps him keep himself together to resist the bad guy... that's it? Humming? That's why his singing ability was so hyped throughout the book??? Humming???

Khasigian squinted at him, gnawing his pencil. He had a shiny bald head like an ancient tortoise, but the rest of him was fit for his sixty-something years.
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Other than those minor complaints, I did enjoy the book. It was hard to put down at times and I was left wanting more of the universe at the end. Particularly, I enjoyed the treatment of magic / science between the lands. It was an interesting concept that in their land, our science was to them as we view magic, and vice versa.

I still like Greg Bear's Songs of Earth and Power better, but this was still an enjoyable read.

--Tometheus 12:11, 25 January 2007 (CST)

See Also