Anne Petty's Reviews > The War of the Flowers

The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams
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Apr 05, 12

Read in February, 2011

Every now and then I love to sink my teeth into an epic fantasy of many pages that will sweep me off to somewhere that temporarily seems more real than the world I live in. I read Tad Williams’ Tailchaser’s Song years ago and have dipped in and out of his monumental Otherland series, so I expected to enjoy this standalone novel (kind of rare in fantasy publishing these days)and wasn’t disappointed.

Let me just say, I was not prepared for this vision of fairyland—-as Dorothy Parker reputedly exclaimed, “What fresh hell is this?” There is a term some reviewer applied to The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick that fits here as well: cyberpunk meets faerie, producing fairypunk. Massive factional intrigue, raging battles with B-25 dragons, constant danger that never lets you relax, and two of the most memorable characters I’ve encountered in years make this book a genuinely satisfying (if terrifying) escape into another world. The human Theo and the sprite Applecore are just about as good as it gets for well-developed, fully rounded characters, and I loved being in their company for the whole roller-coaster ride of the plot.

I also loved the twisted, inside-out perspective on global fairy tales and magical lore. Nothing is sacred in Applecore’s estimation, and her wry take on just about every trope fantasy stories are built on keeps readers and Theo continually off balance. One person’s science is another person’s magic, and vice versa. I laughed and shivered at the same time. The nobility of the goblin Button at the climax is as heartrending as a Greek tragedy.
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