The Flower War by Tad Williams

I have spent a long time trying to figure out what to say about this book. Nothing cohesive seems to stick in my brain.

The title sounds like a light parody fantasy. I can assure that it is not. Tad Williams doesn’t write that kind of story. From the first chapter he thrusts the reader into a dark and lonely place and then tears the world apart.

The opening chapters are possibly the most heartbreaking chapters for anybody with children to try to read. He succeeds also in turning the beloved children’s book “Goodnight Moon” into one of creepiest odes to loneliness ever. You will never read that book again with the same whimsical feeling that it initially imparts.

The main character, Theo Vilmos, gets dragged from a dead-end life into the realm of the fairy where he is suddenly caught between opposing sides in a war that he doesn’t understand and maybe can’t even comprehend. Meanwhile he’s hunted by a creature that can’t be killed or stopped, and the ruling power in fairy wants him dead.

Tad Williams is one of the old hats at fantasy and he shows all of his brilliance here. He seems incapable of placing a wrong word on the page. The strength of his prose is such that he can write anything and make the reader believe it is true, and interesting to read about.

The fairy world is so much like ours and yet so different at the same time that it feels both familiar and incomprehensible. The characters are memorable, the plot is impeccable and the writing superb. This is one book that I can find nothing to complain about.


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