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

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  518 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Herewiss, Prince of the Brightwood, decides to search other worlds for the secret of controlling the Power of the Flame in order to save his friend, Freelorn, exiled Prince of Arlen.
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 15th 1985 by Mentor Books (first published 1979)
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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...more
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...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
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
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
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...more
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!
Mary Holland
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Mar 01, 2011 Buckles rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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 teen...more
Chris Northern
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...more
Bunny Abbitray
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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...more
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...more
May 07, 2009 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: signal
Very traditional-fantasy story about the heroes fighting the evil monsters that are trying to breach the veil and take over the world. In this world, the prerequisite for using your magic power is that you first do a cutscene in which you come to terms with your Tragic Past; after you've done that, you learn your truename, which makes you awesome. There's also some sex.

Having written that plot synopsis, I'm really rather confused about why I gave this book four stars. But I distinctly remember r...more
I don't know that I can judge this book without reading at least some of the other books in the series; there was more exposition than I like, and not enough of some characters, but I assume the setup will pay off later, and that the characters will each get their turn to shine. I do like how it thought outside the box in terms of relationships, particularly with elementals and with deities.
Aug 30, 2012 Isis rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Isis by: Sineala
Shelves: ebook, fantasy, glbt
Basic swords-and-sorcery, plus strong pansexuality themes (same-sex relationships, different-species relationships) and the overarching theme of battle against Lurking Chaos. Gets a little caught up in its own grandeur sometimes, but a fun enough read.
The plot seems a bit random in the beginning, but it gets better towards the end. Also, the main character's relationship is a bit gushy and [spoiler alert] once Sunspark and Herewiss become an item their relationship loses some of its foe yay spark.
Feb 02, 2012 Michelle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: vf
Objectively, these books are probably terrible, but I love them anyway. So cheesy, so melodramatic, so 1985. So directly in my areas of highest vulnerability to bad books.
I read this decades ago when it first came out. It made Diane Duane one of my favorite authors. It was one of my go to books to re-read. I'm glad it has be re-released
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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
More about Diane Duane...
So You Want to Be a Wizard (Young Wizards, #1) Deep Wizardry (Young Wizards, #2) A Wizard Abroad (Young Wizards, #4) High Wizardry (Young Wizards, #3) Wizard's Holiday (Young Wizards, #7)

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