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Gossamer Axe

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  410 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
When her lover is imprisoned, Christa—a centuries-old harper—must set her free using the greatest weapon she possesses: music

In ancient Ireland, Chairiste Ní Cummen, a harper, was trained in the secrets of music and magic, but her curiosity and pride trapped her and her lover in the realm of the fairy folk, the Sidh. Chairiste alone managed to escape, and now, living in th
Paperback, 351 pages
Published August 7th 1990 by Roc
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 965)
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Jeff Bower
Jan 02, 2009 Jeff Bower rated it it was amazing
First I should say that I'm a guitarist and that I love rock and blues.

This is the best music-themed fantasy novel I have read, no others are even close in my estimation (though I did enjoy Stasheff's Warlock Rock--a festival express of puns, and liked The Gutbucket Quest by Leming and Anthony). It's the story of a Celtic harper who lost her lover (who happens to be a woman, but that's not the focus of the plot or story) to the land of fairie, where she is kept captive. The harper, Christa, has
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]The premise of the book sounds, frankly, awful. Christa, born in sixth-century Ireland but exiled to 1980s Denver, assembles an all-female heavy metal band (called "Gossamer Axe") to blast open the mystical portals and rescue her girlfriend from the twilight realm where she is imprisoned. To do this she reincarnates her magical harp as an electric guitar.[return][return]Yet it's actually rather good. Of course it is rather earnest about paga ...more
May 21, 2010 Colleen rated it really liked it
WOW. The GoodReads summary of the book is incredibly negative and hateful. I'm rather surprised. But please go read that for a different opinion than mine.

A Celtic harpist woman from the 600s (yes, 1400 years ago) finally broke free from the Faerie lands in the 1700s. She spent the past 200 years trying to perfect her music and magic in order to go back to the Faerie gate and win freedom for her lover. As the book unfolds (in the 1980s) Christa discovers rock and roll, and bends her energy to bu
Aug 10, 2010 Bryan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
The Goodreads description is horribly off-base and should be taken with several pounds of salt. Part of the story involves how each of the band members comes to terms with the issues in their respective pasts, and, yes, each of them has been hurt by men sometime in their past. The fact that the characters deal with real forms of abuse and neglect is not misanthropy; it's crafting a believable cast of characters and showing how the events of the story impact them.

The treatment of the character w
Michael Pate
May 12, 2012 Michael Pate rated it it was amazing
I read this back when it first came out. And as I recall, a few years later when I was looking for a fun read.

I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time - it combined two of my favorite things (especially in 1990) - fantasy and heavy metal music. It would be interesting to reread it now to see how the story holds up. I would think since the main character was hundreds of years old it would do just fine.

P.S. In the author's note, it describes Baudino's personal experience as a Wiccan. I think that was t
Dec 31, 2007 Eh?Eh! rated it liked it
Shelves: tandy, babble-added, weep
this tale made me want to take up metal - the subculture sounded completely unappealing but the intensity and devotion of the participants...compelling.

red-haired superwoman discovers the power of heavy metal music just as she's about to give up hope, takes on faerie to win her lover back. a teenaged Emma probably would've loved this in her early days of identification with Vanyel et al.
Jan 08, 2014 Shandra rated it really liked it
Urban fantasy before there was such a label, this was one of the first fantasy books with a lesbian main character that I ever read (and there still aren't nearly enough of them around, in my opinion). I was a college student, relatively recently out of the closet, and I remember loving it. I should dig up a copy and give it a reread one of these days, see how it stands up. :)
Ruby and
Nov 18, 2014 Ruby and rated it really liked it
I wanted to give this 3.5 stars because of the weight of its main drawback: the first 50 pages are absolute drudgery. They say the exposition is the hardest to write... a good editor would have cut it right out of this book. It was very difficult to connect with the protagonist during these 50 pages, and her backstory could have been built in later as deftly as the author built in the backstory of the other characters.

That being said, this book is pretty darn amazing. It will deeply move any mus
Oct 26, 2010 Shomeret rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-reviews, fantasy, lgbt
This is an old favorite of mine. It's one of the best fantasies I've read dealing with music and also one of the best dealing with a lesbian relationship. I'm so glad that the GR description of this book is now neutral and acceptable.
Willa Grant
Nov 02, 2008 Willa Grant rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 31, 2014 L.A. rated it really liked it
A woman who's lost her lover meets a man who's lost his music, and together they make magic.

Okay, it's a little more complicated than that. Christa and her lover, Judith, were stolen by the Sidhe centuries ago, because of their musical gifts. Christa managed to escape, but suffers horrible guilt at having left Judith behind. Meanwhile, centuries have passed, and the gentle harper now lives in the age of rock and roll. Is it possible the the musical magic of a new age is the key to rescuing Judit
Feb 20, 2014 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-adult
This story mostly held up over time, other than a few bits of technology. The synthesizer's computer with floppy drives, the obsession of high-level music executives with cocaine and the passing along of demo tapes were old-school, but the story itself was and is solid.
The central character began life as a harper, but in the 6th century. An odd combination of circumstances left her lover in the hands of the Sidh, the folk under the hill, and her in modern America. She was doing fine as a harp te
Marita Arvaniti
Jan 17, 2016 Marita Arvaniti rated it it was amazing
This review comes in the form of a story:
Once upon a time (last night) on a dark and stormy (or at least very windy) night I asked my friend Steve to choose something at random from my TBR pile for me to read. He didn't choose this book. But as he was going through the pages of my kindle trying to pick something this book jumped out at me and demanded my attention. So I, like a good girl who knows not to ignore feelings like that started reading it.
And kept reading.
And kept reading.
I cancelled
Jul 12, 2014 Sean rated it it was amazing
I thought this was adorable.

As a music person myself, I appreciated the huge amount of music theory that was described in this book. I thought that the female-female relationship (that was not the center of the story, but rather a driving force) was adorable, and I could feel the love they had for each other. I thought the idea of metal music breaking down walls (literally and figuratively), especially by an all-girl band was socio-political statement worth listening to.
Allison Ann
Aug 09, 2012 Allison Ann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
One of my favourite fantasty novels of all time - yes it's particularly dated now and probably wouldn't much appeal to those who didn't live through the 80s and don't have fond memories of backcombing their hair and tying bandanas around various body parts, but I still enjoy every re-read. The music parts of the book still make me desperately want to join a band despite my total tone deafness and the magic parts are lovely. Chick with a harp indeed.
Jul 02, 2008 Jenett rated it it was amazing
A longtime favorite, currently re-read because of the music and magic aspect.

As a book, its starting to show its age a bit (the music world has changed a little) but there's still something about the characters that gets me every time. And there's one particular bit, on page 346 in the paperback, that has had me in tears every single time I read it: it's the "Yes, I can sing." bit.

May 10, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I LOVE THIS BOOK! Published in 1990 and I picked it up new in a bookstore so I probably read it for the first time in '90 or '91. I know I've read it at least 10 more times since then. The story is originally amazing, I mean who can't get into a chick from ancient Ireland who plays electric guitar to free her lover from faery? One of my favorite books ever!
Jan 20, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
I expected this to be terrible, in the way of most Lesbian fiction. Instead I found that I couldn't put it down. It's no revelation, but it is highly entertaining. I loved the author's clear feminist, I love wicca and Ireland bent. When I wasn't curious about the plot I was giggling at the clear biases. A perfect January distraction.
Feb 16, 2010 Jess rated it liked it
Haha, published in 1990. You wouldn't know it, because this is some full on insane magical guitar battling 80s style with big hair and unicorns and stuff. This book was surprisingly cool (as in real cool, not ironic cool), considering the teal-cloaked lady-mage wielding her musical battle axe on the front.
Heavy metal battle of the bands meets creative Irish mythology. I found this book to be a lot of fun, and far and away the most delightful of this author's books. Keywords, sci fantasy, lesbian, rock music, Colorado. I've read it a couple times since it is a total escape sort of novel.
Oct 20, 2011 Shawn rated it liked it
Shelves: read-do-not-own
A fun read, especially if you have any fond memories or guilty pleasures for 80's hair metal. Not as on-course or developed as the Starlight series, but themes are still there. I've been dared to make a mix tape of the songs mentioned in this book, and perhaps I will.
Tia Russtone
Apr 16, 2016 Tia Russtone rated it really liked it
This is a book I have read and re-read through the years. Initially, I found it languishing on a book-rack in the library when I was still pretty young. After reading it for the first time, I was so impressed with Christa's character, her staunch belief in herself and her friends, her willingness to go further than limits anyone else would have blanched at, and the strength of her absolute dedication to the goal of saving her lover from the fate that has held her for hundreds of years that I hav ...more
Nov 05, 2007 Virginia rated it really liked it
When I read this book in high school I was totally titillated by the whole lesbian thing going on.

Despite that, it's a pretty damn good book. I'll have to read it again one of these days.

Haleigh Hernandez
Mar 27, 2014 Haleigh Hernandez rated it it was amazing
It shouldn't be so wonderful. It should be cheesy, like cheese whiz. It is pure magic. Fantastic from beginning to end.
Dec 01, 2015 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Amazing!! This book is amazing! The plot follows harpist Christa's efforts to free her lover Judith from the Otherworld, where she has been held for centuries. Discovering hard rock music, Christa establishes an all female rock band with the intention of using the music the smash through the walls of faerie.

I found the idea of of music being a source of powerful, transformative magic very appealing. Over the course of the novel, the band and music help the members heal and transform their own li
Michele bookloverforever
Jan 31, 2014 Michele bookloverforever rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
excellent and outstanding tale woven around legends of the fae....really strong female lead character...
Nov 02, 2009 Alma rated it really liked it
Jump into an adventure accompanied by a feisty, magical, rock n' roll Celtic dyke.
Jan 27, 2016 Firefly_1824 added it
Shelves: fantasy
This was a really good book, and very interesting. There's a huge focus on music, specifically the harp and rock guitar. You'll learn a lot about both of those. The main character is misplaced in time, and that also makes for some really cool storytelling.
However, you shouldn't read this if you're uncomfortable with homosexuality. It's by no means the main focus of the book, but one of the main plots is the heroine trying to rescue her female lover. If you replaced her with a man, it would be t
Chris Fielding
Mar 08, 2016 Chris Fielding rated it it was amazing
I remember standing in front of the Science Fiction/Fantasy shelves at the Waldenbooks in the Arnot Mall scanning them for something interesting to read. I was home on break from college, although I can't remember which break and I wanted to find something new and non-text book to read.

I honestly have no idea why this book jumped out at me. The cover, although not uninteresting, didn't smack of the normal Sci-Fi or Urban Fantasy that had become my main reading diet at the time. The basic plot wa
Morgan Dhu
Jan 22, 2015 Morgan Dhu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Gael Baudino's Gossamer Axe is one of my favourite books, which is probably why I keep rereading it. It's hard to put into words what draws me to it over and over again, except to say that it hits all the right emotional and thematic buttons for me, with a good hard punch that generally has me crying about a dozen times.

Bare bones synopsis: two sixth century Irish lovers, both student bards, sneak out at night to listen to the elves. They are caught and taken to the land of the far, where nothin
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