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The Door Into Fire (The Tale of the Five, #1)
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The Door Into Fire (The Tale of the Five #1)

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  672 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Herewiss is the only man in centuries to possess the Power of the blue Flame, but he can't use or control it -- not even to help his dearest friend, Freelorn, exiled prince of Arlen. Herewiss does have a talent for more mundane sorcery, and (aided by the unearthly creature Sunspark) he uses it to rout the armies besieging Freelorn. But now Herewiss faces a devastating choi ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 15th 1985 by Mentor Books (first published 1979)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,610)
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Jun 20, 2016 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, lgbt
This was a reread for me, since it’s been so long since I read it, and I want to get on and read the second and third book. (Although alas, I don’t know that the fourth book has progressed at all since I bought them.) It’s a refreshing world where, though people have a duty to provide an heir, sexuality isn’t tightly regulated and once you have provided a child, you can love whom you will — and polyamory is also an option. Despite that, it’s not idyllic: the characters don’t always accept their ...more
This is my third or fourth go at writing this review. I love this series, and I’m finding it incredibly difficult to put that love down in words. Every time I try to put something down, I end up thinking to myself, “But it’s not like this series is unique that way, so why do you love this one so much?”

This Is No MMORPG Sandbox, and That's a Good Thing

The setting, admittedly, is your fairly standard faintly Anglo-Saxon/Celtic medieval fantasy setting with mages (rodmistresses who wield Fire) and
Jul 27, 2013 Nikki rated it really liked it
I can't believe how long this has been lingering on my to read pile. I've had Diane Duane recced to me so many times, and I have a ton of her books. I guess I was partly saving it so I had something awesome to look forward to, part afraid it wouldn't be awesome.

Well, it didn't bowl me over. I do love the characters, that they have their flaws and get things wrong and love and struggle and share. I love the fact that they're openly pansexual and polyamorous as a society, and that's done realistic
Sep 23, 2015 Kat rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
I am rating this book based not on quality (it is soooooo delightfully shlocky) but on how much I enjoyed it, which was 5000%. A knight with Untapped Magic goes on a quest to save his best beloved, an exiled Prince? Everyone is bi? The goddess likes to show up and bang people for wisdom? There is also a fire horse? cats can talk? SIGN ME THE FUCK UP
Abi Walton
SO I know it too me a long time to finish this one but it wasn't hugely captivating and so other things got in the way. I really wanted this book to be like The Fire's Stone but it wasn't and that made me sad. This book was comfort food like Huff's but while Huff's work really dragged me in this book had me skimming pages and missing paragraphs so that I could get to the action. I understand that this is the first book to a series of three but for me this book just felt like world building and I ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Phaedra rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, re-read, 2013
I know I read this when I was young, possibly before I was 10. Was I really that clueless that I had no idea what was going on in the book? The only thing I remembered was a horse who wasn't a horse and the fact that at the end of the book it dawned on me that those two boys were in Love! From there my poor befuzzled brain spent weeks trying to figure out the logistics of boys and boys. It never did come up with anything remotely resembling reality, but this is the book that made me realize that ...more
[These notes were made in 1990:]. Not a Star Trek novel. This is a swords-and-sorcery tale, the first part of projected four-parter which appears to have been abandoned after Part 2 (presumably when Duane discovered she could sell ST).[2010 note: my cynicism was apparently unwarranted - I see there are sequels dating from the '90s] What makes it unusual is that the central relationship is unabashedly (and uncomplicatedly) homosexual. Herewiss, the sorcerer-warrior, has fire-powers he can't contr ...more
Mar 04, 2012 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Middle Kingdoms series has a bit of a reputation for "deviant sex", which might have been more true by 1979 standards, or perhaps in the later novels. Here, it boils down to everyone's bi, nobody's monogamous. Nothing's explicit, or even particularly suggestive, and for every page about sex there's about ten pages on relationship or religious implications. (The Middle Kingdoms religion is pretty sexual in nature.) Sex aside, this is straightforward personal story that ties into a larger arc, ...more
Not quite as cool as I remember (not enough Segnbora), but still pretty cool. As with Alanna: The First Adventure, I was surprised by how episodic the narrative was; in my memories, I smoothed it out into something more flowing. The plot itself is fairly formulaic, and this volume doesn't have quite the crowning moments of awesome as the sequels. But the characters, oh, the characters. They are prickly and imperfect and oh so human, and they love the way people really do: sometimes giving, somet ...more
Jul 02, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is a basic sword and sorcery quest, with a Patricia McKillip-style introspective main character. Herewiss contains powerful magic, but he cannot harness it, not even to save his beloved and best friend, an overthrown king. Two very interesting aspects of this book: 1)the culture accepts various sexualities without a blink of an eye (even fire elemental/human) and 2)readers of DD's later-written "So You Want to Be a Wizard" series will recognize threads of the same spiritual beliefs (most ob ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Ariel rated it really liked it
This was just a really fun read. Don't be fooled by the cover - it's actually an excellent fantasy novel, with original worldbuilding and likable characters. It was also an extremely fast read, and in the end it isn't as gripping as some other fantasy books I've read, but I heartily enjoyed it and I'll pick up the next two in the trilogy as soon as I can.
Apr 25, 2012 Chloe rated it really liked it
It's enlightening to read this book, having started with the Young Wizards series, and seeing the seeds of the themes that are fully fleshed out in that series being tentatively explored in this earlier novel. It is endearing –to me anyway, there are others who aren't of the same opinion– in its first novel naivete and desire to fix the issues in our world in her own universe. It is particularly interesting to read the author's perspective on the book thirty years later.

The Door into Fire is a s
Feb 09, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing
This book deserves being a classic.
The story-weaving is excellent, the characters are balanced, and, most importantly, are mysterious enough for many books to come.
The author had formed a world which is believable, and perhaps, in many aspects, is not too different from ours.
Freedom is mostly represented by almost all of the characters being sexually active perhaps a tad more than needed, while love and fear, anger and hatred are paired to further enrich the story.
Strongly recommended!
Aug 27, 2010 Estara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary Holland
Jul 20, 2012 Mary Holland rated it it was amazing
This book published in 1979 and is pure fun fantasy, with marvelous memorable characters. I can't remember if this was the first fantasy I read where the lovers were two men, but it was definitely the first one that took the relationship for granted as normal and acceptable. There's a magical horse, a sword with problems, and a nifty and very sexy Goddess. This is volume one of The Tale of the Five, although I suspect it wasn't conceived as a series book originally. I've read all the others - th ...more
Jul 15, 2008 Miriam rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I was pretty young when I read this and my main memory is of the awful cover, which was really badly drawn and had some anatomically incorrect, inexplicably blue person on it (not the cover shown here). Otherwise I just recall it being about some people on a quest, with some bisexuality and goddess stuff thrown in. Duane does a good job eliding gender roles and depicting non-gendered/alternative behavior in a natural-seeming way, but I don't think I much cared about the characters or what they w ...more
An enjoyable and distinctive read. It's wonderful to see issues of gender and sexuality explored in a fantasy novel this way (most characters are openly bisexual, and society as a whole is overwhelmingly positive about that sort of thing). Duane's Goddess-based mythology here is also a breath of fresh air. It manages to celebrate femininity in a way that doesn't feel limiting or overly stereotypical, which is unfortunately rare in the world of fantasy novels.
Jan 24, 2009 Wile rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blurb-reviews
This opening to a series of excellent fantasy novels had a rather profound effect on me when I was growing up. Not only is it an excellent fantasy adventure with great story and dialog, but it also painted a world where such things as bisexuality, polyamory, and paganism were one with the characters and the culture, as natural as the seasons. All and all, a great read with a deep message that I've come back to many times.
I was looking for a good fantasy novel with bisexual, polyamorous characters and this one definitely fulfills my criteria. As far as I can tell, all of the characters are bi and poly and it's totally accepted by society and not a source of angst for the protagonist. Hooray!

The main character, Herewiss, is a 28 year old prince and sorcerer who has the potential to become very powerful if he can master the Flame, which no person of his gender has done in time immemorial. His inability to do so cau
Mar 01, 2011 Buckles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any (open minded) fantasy reader
Recommended to Buckles by: My mother
Shelves: favorites
I own a very old copy of this book, and used to get in trouble in school for the cover. I think I've re-read this book over 100 times over the course of my life. Incredibly described world and characters. The Tale of the Five series is one of my all time favorite book series.
Mar 30, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
If only there were more than 5 stars. One of my favorite fantasy books EVER. The sequel is even better. I've read the 3 books in this series more times than I can count.
Kathryn (Nine Pages)
Edited from a review originally published on my blog, Nine Pages . The original includes links.

It took me almost 11 months to finish Diane Duane’s The Door Into Fire, first in The Tale of the Five series. I found a reference to this adult series by Duane on her blog, Out of Ambit, and not more than a few days later, found the first two books in a local used bookstore. It seemed fated and being already a big fan of Duane’s middle-grade/teen series, Young Wizards, and being more an adult than tee
Chris Northern
Nov 02, 2013 Chris Northern rated it it was amazing
From the opening pages it is clear that this is a book about relationships. Herewiss has a son and a father who appear briefly though don't figure in the story. A call for aide from his loved (DD's choice of word) kicks off the story.

The travel action seems almost incidental, but the incidents are all about relationships... Sunsparks urge to dominate, another's desire to control. Those themes come back again when Herewiss and Freelorn and the gang travel on together. Even in seemingly good relat
Bunny Abbitray
Mar 14, 2013 Bunny Abbitray rated it really liked it
Like many fantasy novels, this was an enjoyable romp in a different world. Part of the appeal of this book is in the world Duane creates, actually. While her characters are real and believable, part of what makes them believable is that they fit seamlessly in this alternate world she has created, a world where the Goddess takes a particularly active role in human affairs and one where magic works, but not easily or without sacrifice. Sadly, perhaps the most significant difference between our wor ...more
Rena McGee
May 19, 2013 Rena McGee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Tale of the Five, is an early fantasy series by Diane Duane which isn’t complete yet. It is the first series I read that had homosexual and bisexual characters who were just characters instead of stock humor characters, hateful villains or Afterschool Special-style protagonists where we learn important lessons about accepting others. Herewiss, Freelorn and Segnbora are three of my favorite characters in the series, followed closely behind by Sunspark (a fire elemental) and Hasai, a Dragon.) ...more
Jun 06, 2010 Juliana rated it it was ok
Shelves: sff, glbt, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 13, 2015 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read this book when I was a teenager and it was recently chosen by my book group again. I love the gender dynamics and poly stuff, but other than that it is a pretty average fantasy book. Good ideas, good writing, too much goddess and earth and poetry. And I just can't take a description of an attractive man with a mustache seriously.
Nov 13, 2014 Sean rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read this so many years ago I don't remember when, so I can not write a review of it now. But I can say that a few passages have stuck with me all these years, and I can even quote a line of dialogue. And that is saying something for a book after all.
Oct 29, 2014 rivka rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really, really wanted to like this book and its sequel. In general, I love Duane's work, and in the last several years I've been trying to read more of what I'd missed of the non-SW/Spiderman/X-men/etc. stuff of hers, instead of just ST and the Wizards books.

And some of the ones I've read were just lovely, like Omnitopia and Stealing the Elf-King's Roses.

Not these two, though. From where I sit, they have the same plot (at least until the point where I gave up, about 50 pages into the second) a
Nov 16, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, m-m, f-f
I like most of Diane Duane's Wizardry series (minus A Wizard Abroad and the books about the cats), so this has been on my To Read list for a very long time. I finally decided to ILL it. And I do like it. It only seems slightly dated, for having been written in the 70's. Gotta love those drugged up 70's.

It's interesting to see the world of her wizardry books from a different perspective. Not a child, not a cat, not our world. This reads more like fantasy than the other books, which I tend to read
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Diane Duane has been a writer of science fiction, fantasy, TV and film for more than thirty years.
Besides the 1980's creation of the Young Wizards fantasy series for which she's best known, the "Middle Kingdoms" epic fantasy series, and numerous stand-alone fantasy or science fiction novels, her career has included extensive work in the Star Trek TM universe, and many scripts for live-action and a
More about Diane Duane...

Other Books in the Series

The Tale of the Five (4 books)
  • The Door Into Shadow (Tale of the Five, # 2)
  • The Door into Sunset (Tale of the Five, #3)
  • The Door Into Starlight (The Tale of the Five, #4)

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