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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 ·  835 ratings  ·  74 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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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  835 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, fantasy
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
ETA: I was NOT a fan of the second book and am not likely to ever finish the series, so, you know, heads up.

Re-read: This book definitely has a nostalgic feel to it - sex, drugs, and meandering plot (if you can even call that a plot). I could take or leave the drug trips, but the sex and meandering make for an entertaining, comfortable, low-intensity adventure that is very much to my tastes. I enjoyed reading it a second time, although I think I noticed more issues this time around. My big
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, fantasy
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 do
Sex. Drugs. And Rock... Color Purple. Very 70-ies.

What. A. Drag.

Never a straight (no pun) line in this book. I don't mind when a story gets from A to D via B, C and while at it detours through E and K. I do mind however, when the author goes through entire alphabet to connect A to B. Now imagine that alphabet being intense purple. It frigging haunts me in my sleep now.

One star.

And no, DD was not the one and only writing and publishing queer literature prior to 2001.
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spfbo5
Full review is here, on my blog!

This is the story of Herewiss, who is a sorcerer. He’s the first man in centuries to have the power of The Flame, which is a special type of magic that usually only women can wield. He can’t use it and hasn’t found the focus to control it, but he knows it’s there. Women use wooden rods as focuses, but Herewiss figures his focus could be a sword, so he becomes a smith, and he forges swords, hoping to make the perfect one, but he breaks every one of them.
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 was ...more
Jul 02, 2009 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
Sep 23, 2015 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
[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
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, ebook, re-read
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
Feb 05, 2012 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, sometimes selfi ...more
Jul 15, 2008 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
Dec 30, 2011 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.
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
To be totally honest, I considered giving this one star. By the end of this book, I was very much over it, but it started off ok, and I wasn’t actively unhappy while reading most of it, so... two stars. However, I have a few strong complaints about this book.

First, the author seems more interested in world building than story telling, and the entirety of this fictional universe hinges upon a sort of utopian, zen-hippie, freelove philosophy, which is delivered in such a way to be more narratoria
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This story takes place in a world that on the outside looks like a fairly standart fantasy world where lords, kings, gods, magic, dragons and the power of the True Name play big parts.
On the inside it's refreshingly different, though... cause you see, as long as you provide society with a child at some point in your young adult years (with a person of your choosing of course), you're allowed to love and have sex with whom you please afterwards. No one cares if that person is male or female or i
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a pleasant surprise. I’ve never heard of the book before but I stumbled across it at the local library and it sounded interesting enough. The cover art for my edition was probably the cheesiest fantasy artwork I’ve ever seen lol. The story was solid fantasy fare and I enjoyed the magic system. The characters were good enough and I’m guessing they will receive some more depth as the series progresses. This book was certainly ahead of its time in terms of polyamorous and same sex relation ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Diane Duane fans
Shelves: fantasy
Am I really giving a Diane Duane book two stars? Yes, I am.
Lots of purple prose, very slow to get into. If you haven't read anything by Diane Duane before then don't start here. It is good once it gets going but there's a lot to wade through first.
I do like having a fantasy where a gay relationship is emphasised and everyone seems to be bisexual and polyamorous. It's not explicit; 'sharing' is the euphemis for sex.
I'd actually read the other books in the trilogy years ago before fin
Feb 28, 2011 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 slightly s
Apr 22, 2018 marked it as to-read

It has come to my attention that (and I really shouldn't be surprised, given the sexist bias, present still in 2018, but I'm in a bit of a shock and frankly, I'm appalled,) women writers have essentially been systematically erased; forgotten. presents

In an attempt to bring awareness to this very important--and saddening-- issue, I thought I'd present them here. Maybe we can learn from the mistakes of the past and build a better future. That is my hope.

In Duane’s se
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sff, queer, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 15, 2011 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 sec
Mary Holland
Jul 20, 2012 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
Jun 22, 2007 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.
Feb 08, 2014 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.
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.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
IDK what to say about this except if you go in expecting early-80's sex positive goddess worshiping high fantasy written by and for women that went through a horse phase around age 12, then you get that in spades. It's kind of like the ending scene of Jupiter Ascending when Channing Tatum gets wings except a whole book.
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
This was a straight, Burroughs-like, gritty fantasy that had some elements I didn't care for. If fantasy has a 'pulp' section, this is in there.
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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

Other books in the series

The Tale of the Five (6 books)
  • The Door Into Shadow (Tale of the Five, # 2)
  • The Door into Sunset (Tale of the Five, #3)
  • The Levin-Gad
  • The Landlady
  • The Door Into Starlight (The Tale of the Five, #4)