Synopses & Reviews
Theo Vilmos' life is about to take a real turn for the worse. Not that it was ever that great spending the last decade of his life as a singer in a succession of not-terribly-successful Northern California rock bands isn't exactly a dream come true. But what can Theo do? When his girlfriend Cat gets pregnant, it seems like it's time to give up his irresponsible dreams and settle down. Until now, Theo has always skated through life getting by on good looks and charm but short on accomplishments, never quite fitting in. The only place that he's ever felt truly right, the only world to which he's ever really belonged, was onstage, enveloped in music, singing his heart out. But isn't that a pretty immature way for a thirty-year-old to feel? Now Cat is pregnant and things are going to change big time. Theo will be forced to change, too. So maybe this is a good thing just what he needs.
But, as Theo discovers, he hasn't hit bottom yet, not by a long shot. He soon finds himself alone, heartbroken, and plagued by a recurring nightmare and he can't shake the feeling that these bad things are happening to him for a reason. When he comes across a mysterious old letter from his grandmother's brother, a man named Eamonn Dowd, and with it the key to a safe deposit box, he decides to investigate. What he finds is an old handwritten book.
Seeking solace and escape in a cabin in the woods, Theo begins to read his great-uncle's book and quickly becomes mesmerized. Dowd writes of another world the world of Faerie but it is nothing like the familiar fairyland of childhood stories. Caught up in the book's compelling tale, Theo begins to hear strange sounds and experience odd fears. Then one night, all his fears manifest when a horrifying thing tries to break through his front door a terrible hunting-spirit in the body of a dead man. Terrified and trapped, Theo is saved only by the intervention of a tiny, foul-mouthed, winged sprite named Applecore, who transports him through a surreal portal into the realm of Faerie. But this fairyland is even darker and more bizarrely modern than Eamonn Dowd had described, similar to the mortal world and yet dangerously different, and although he can't imagine why, there are creatures in it who intend Theo Vilmos serious harm.
Chased by corpselike cave trolls and even more frightening monsters, at the mercy of immortal creatures whose personal and political affiliations are bafflingly unclear, and with only the reluctant sprite Applecore for a guide, Theo begins a journey that will lead him from the palace-towers of the most powerful and treacherous of the fair folk to the camps of rebel goblins and still stranger places, on a search for the true meaning of his life before those who seek him can cut it mercilessly short.
"Travel into another dimension is a popular fantasy ploy, but rarely accomplished with such humor, terror and even logic....Williams's imagination is boundless, and if this big book could have been shorter, it could just as easily have been longer." Publishers Weekly
"Williams displays a deft hand, creating an addictive world with its own history, mythology, internal rules, and rich, intricate culture....The world of Faerie turns out to have everything a fantasy fan could desire....Even as he weaves his 'make-believe' world...Williams simultaneously delivers moments of grandeur and potency that fit snugly into a Tolkienesque tradition. But he does it with a modern sensibility imagine a Tolkien who listened to Metallica and he has more up his sleeve than thwarting the legions of doom....The evil fairy lords are appropriately nasty, the mystery of how the king and queen died in the Giant Wars several centuries earlier is acceptably intriguing, and the sidekick sprite Applecore is a sassy delight....[W]hile readers will relish a fantasy novel that belongs in the top tier of those currently being produced, that masterfully plays with all the tropes and traditions of generations of fantasy writers, they will also become absorbed in Theo's real quest, which has nothing to do with sword wielding or inner powers or 'greatness' by any commonly understood definition. His real quest is to become, basically, a good guy and a stand-up mensch." Andrew Leonard, Salon.com
"Williams has a supremely powerful, if not altogether disciplined, imagination, so that, like Theo, readers may feel they are encountering much that is dreary and dull on the way to the good parts." Roland Green, Booklist
"[A]n intriguing new twist on old legends. Strong storytelling and memorable characters make this standalone cross-world fantasy the author's best work to date and a priority purchase for fantasy collections. Highly recommended." Library Journal
Returning to the fantasy genre that made him a coast-to-coast bestselling phenomenon, Williams has written a new stand-alone contemporary novel set in Northern California, and in the strange parallel world that coexists in the farthest reaches of the imagination.
Returning to the fantasy genre that made him a coast-to-coast best-selling phenomenon, Tad Williams has written a new stand-alone contemporary novel set in Northern California-and also in the strange parallel world that coexists in the farthest reaches of the imagination.
Theo Vilmos is a thirty-year-old lead singer in a not terribly successful rock band. Once, he had enormous, almost magical, charisma both onstage and off-but now, life has taken its toll on Theo. Hitting an all-time low, he seeks refuge in a isolated cabin in the woods-and reads an odd memoir written by a dead relative who believed he had visited the magical world of Faerie. And before Theo can disregard the account as the writings of a madman, he, too, is drawn to a place beyond his wildest dreams...a place filled with be, and has always been, his destiny.
About the Author
Tad Williams has held more jobs than any sane person should admit to singing in a band, selling shoes, managing a financial institution, throwing newspapers, and designing military manuals, to name just a few.
He also hosted a syndicated radio show for ten years, worked in theater and television production, taught both grade-school and college classes, and worked in multimedia for a major computer firm. He is cofounder of an interactive television company, and is currently writing comic books and film and television scripts as well as novels.
Tad and his wife live in London and the San Francisco Bay Area. They spend their occasional microseconds of leisure time engineering world peace and making sarcastic remarks about their pets.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Goodnight Nobody
1 Clouds 7
2 The Silent Primrose Maiden 23
3 Descent 26
4 The Hungry Thing 44
5 Book 51
6 A Corruption of Moonlight 69
7 Woods 74
8 Runaway Capacitor 89
9 Visitors 95
Part 2 Last Exit to Fairyland
10 Larkspur's Land 111
11 A Disturbance in The Forcing Shed 127
12 The Hollyhock Chest 139
13 A Change in the Weather 160
14 Penumbra Station 179
15 The Plains of Great Rowan 201
16 Poppy 221
17 The Hothouse 240
18 Sidewalks of New Erewhon 246
19 A Holiday Visit 269
20 Among the Creepers 273
21 In Thornapple House 295
22 Status Quo Ante 302
23 The Shadow on the Tower 324
Part 3 Flower War
24 The Bus Stop on Pentacle Street 347
25 A Million Sparks 356
26 Losing a Friend 371
27 Button's Bridge 388
28 Goblin Jazz Bandwagon 411
29 The Hole in the Story 430
30 Family Matters 447
31 In the Bloom Years 458
32 Trendy Fungus 481
33 The Last Breath They Took 505
Part 4 The Lost Child
34 Interlude with Van Gogh Stars 523
35 A Sort of Reunion 534
36 changelings 550
37 The Ebony Box 565
38 The Broken Stick 579
39 Stepchild 591
40 Strawflower Square 605
41 The Cathedral 622
Part 5 Fairytale Ending
42 Farewell Feast 645
43 The Limits of Magic 665
Index of People, Places, and Things 677