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War for the Oaks

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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  9,040 Ratings  ·  751 Reviews
Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy.

Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But she's breaking up with her boyfriend, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Min
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Tor Teen (first published 1987)
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Felicia
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Oops I was browsing the "recommended because of your shelf" listings and I noticed that this book was not on my lists?! In fact, not on my FAVORITE SHELVES list? I've read it about 4 times so GET ON MY SHELF!

This book was written years before the trend of "paranormal romance faerie crossing into urban environment" became commonplace. If you want to see one of the books that probably helped start ALL this paranormal stuff, here it is. GREAT book for girls and boys alike. I have it in 3 different
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Sandi
Sep 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, fantasy
I didn't know what to expect when I ordered a copy of War for the Oaks for one of my GoodReads group. Right now, I have way too many books to read and not enough time to read them. I certainly didn't expect that I'd find a book that I had a hard time putting down and ended up finishing in two days.

As I understand it, War for the Oaks is an early example of urban fantasy. What wonderful urban fantasy it was. I loved the adventure and romanticism, the music and the fairies (don't call them that).
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Aubrey
Urban fantasy was my drug of choice in high school. Before Goodreads and phenomenal English teachers took their toll on my ignorant bliss, I was perfectly content to base my reading choices on cover designs and dust jacket flaps, the key to my satisfactions being that perfect blend of concrete grit and fantastical malevolence. My tastes will never return to that simplicity, but rather than using that as a reason for forgoing the genre entirely, I chose to feed a favorable looking work to my far ...more
Mimi
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
So this is the book that kicked off Urban Fantasy?

It was OK, just OK. The narration is somewhat annoying, which makes the characters somewhat annoying, but the action sequences make up for that. I can't fault this book too much, though, since it's the first its kind and therefore, like most pioneering writing pieces, reads more like a lengthy writing exercise than a book.

The story is about a young woman with great musical aspirations--she wants to start her own band—who stumbles across a fae w
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The Flooze
Feb 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stav, specifically; music-lovers and UF fans in general
Recommended to The Flooze by: Vered
War for the Oaks has the distinction of helping mold the subgenre of urban fantasy. Since I’ve already tackled many (many) UF titles, that particular context is lost on me. What can’t be denied, however, is Emma Bull’s talent. War for the Oaks is an excellent example of everything I’ve come to love about the fusion of modernity and magic.

The main character, Eddi McCandry, is a blend of all we hope for in a heroine. In the beginning she exhibits a bit of poor judgment and has a tendency to under
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JM
Adult fey urban fantasy. Eddi, a singer/electric guitarist living in Minneapolis, finds herself chosen by the Seelie Court for a job nobody would be especially keen on: the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, whose queens are resident in Minneapolis for reasons that are never quite addressed, are declaring a war for the city. They need a mortal to make the stakes mortal ones.

This is a classic of the genre. I read it immediately after Robin McKinley's Sunshine, which frustrated me to pieces, and my first
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Nikki
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading this was like meeting the grandmother of October Daye and Kate Daniels. Knowing it was one of the early books to really make urban fantasy a thing, per Naomi Alderman’s introduction, it’s amazing how fresh it must have felt back then — it stood up pretty well now, but I found some aspects of it predictable because I know later books in the genre. So many of the elements were in place as far back as this. I had a lot of fun, and the descriptions of Eddi’s band and the way they play, the f ...more
Amanda
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kick-ass
This book has been popping up on my Amazon recommendations list for probably a year now. That, combined with the fact that there's a quote on front in which Neil Gaiman states, "Emma Bull is really good" (which may seem scant praise, but is everything to a Gaiman fan), I finally decided to just go ahead and order it. After reading it, I concur with Mr. Gaiman--Emma Bull is really good. An urban fantasy set in the 1980's, Bull takes full advantage of the time period by showcasing the music and th ...more
Cheryl
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently a debut novel by the author. Apparently, too, an early (1987) entry in the Urban Fantasy genre.

Brilliant in many ways. Creative. Exciting. Thought-provoking. Fun, and sometimes funny, With some romance, some heavy-duty magical battles, and lots and lots of music. And lots of Minneapolis.

Eddi is a strong woman in many ways. She knows how to lead a band, to ride a motorcycle, to buck tradition, to kick ass, to date on her own terms. She's almost too good to be true but moments of vulner
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Einav
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
הציון האמיתי הוא 4.5, אבל איזה יופי של ספר! אני מבינה למה ניל גיימן כתב על אמה בול שהיא "ממש ממש טובה".
כבר לא מעט זמן שקלתי לקרוא אותו. בתור חובבת מושבעת של פנטזיה אורבאנית, לא יכולתי להרשות לעצמי לא לקרוא את אחד מאבני היסוד בז'אנר, זה שהיווה בסיס לרוב הספרים בתחום. אבל העובדה שהוא ראה אור ב-1987, העטיפה המוזרה, והשם המעט כבד - הרחיקו אותי כל הזמן לספרים אחרים. וכשסוף סוף הרמתי אותו - הבנתי שטעיתי ברושם שקיבלתי. ראשית כל - הספר קליל. אדי, מוזיקאית בחסד, זורקת את החבר הדוחה שלה קיבינימאט, רק כדי
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Richard
Sep 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone seeking a quick and excellent fantasy.
Recommended to Richard by: SciFi & Fantasy Group 2010-10 Fantasy Selection
It is astonishing to think that Minneapolis was the center of the Faerie world in 1987. Who would of thought?!?

And yet, Emma Bull’s absorbing novel provides eloquent testimony to the centrality of the City of Lakes to the Fey World.

Undoubtedly there is some important event that transpired in the next decade, since by 2000 the Dresden Files are evidence that Chicago is the place to be.

            •         •        •

I didn’t realize for a while that this book was written so long ago. I was enjoy
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Siria
Dec 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book is a very strong argument as to why frequent, extended descriptions of what the characters are wearing is a bad idea: not only is it unnecessary, a lot of the time, but it makes the book feel very dated. The fact that the descriptions are of what was fashionable in the late Eighties is even worse: people actually wore that? With shoulder-pads? Oh my. Similarly: ixnay on the awful rock lyrics.

Anyway, I read War for the Oaks because I had heard so many people describe it as a classic of
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Sandra
Oct 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
4.5 stars

I understand this book was a pioneer in the urban fantasy world. One could only wish that the subsequent urban fantasy was as good.

At first it felt tired and old hat to me, but gradually, Emma Bull's world and characters began to build and before you know it, I was enchanted.

It's a tour de force of music, magic, honor, courage, and love. The Pouka is the most endearing and lovable character I've come across in a long time. Eddi's character gradually develops depth and the story takes of
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Vered
Jan 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uf
Yep, still excellent! With it's wit, warmth, great characters and a story that gets you hooked, instantly.
Faeries, a chosen mortal, a fight between good (of sort) and evil, a lot of Rock'n'Roll and one sexy, irresistible Phouka.

I love it!

b/w the book was written in the 80's. References, clothes, songs. A trip down memory lane :)

Sarah
First half two stars, second half four stars. I am definitely not the target audience for this. I don't like UF, I don't like faeries, and... I thought the music would be a saving grace because that's something I do love, but I still wasn't really getting into that portion.

A friend pointed out to me that this was sort of the first UF written. Looking at it from that perspective, and from the very important perspective that this was written in the 80s, things finally started clicking for me. The
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Mariel
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fly me to the moon
Recommended to Mariel by: pretty in pink
Neil Gaiman's quote on the book jacket for The War for the Oaks reads: "Emma Bull is really good."
I'm with Mr. Gaiman. Good, but not great.
I'm not in one of my miserly moods, I swear. The heroine, Eddi, has her own kind of magic that comes from her stage presence when she's playing with her band. Shouldn't she have been more, well, charismatic? I liked a lot all of the parts when they are putting together their new band. Those were really good (again!) life stuff. But what about Eddi? After a wh
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Erika Gill
I wish I understood the hype this book has commanded for over twenty years, but I can't. I also wish I'd heard of at least half of the songs mentioned (stuffed, more like) in it. Unfortunately, Emma Bull was under the impression that the more contemporary hip iconic culture she shoved down the throats of her readers, the better it would be. In doing this, and shamelessly using her own (poor) lyrics as filler, she managed to completely neglect her writing.

I can't even recall how many times I had
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Sherwood Smith
This is, I believe, the book that kicked off the "using music against the Sidhe" subgenre that became so popular through the nineties. When I first read it, I wondered if the influence had been Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Garde--the idea of women writers catching, adding their own grace notes, and passing on ideas being exemplified so very well here.
Randall
Aug 22, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hmmmm?
It gets a star because I finished it. Don't read this book. A mix between fantasy and a rock novel incorporating the worst aspects of both genres with an inability to compose a coherent action sequence.
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Eddi McCandry is a rocker with a big heart. She attracts the attention of the Seelie Court and her life is turned upside down.

I absolutely loved this. If you know me, and maybe if you don't, you know that Charles de Lint is my favorite author. This is something very much in the same vein as de Lint's best work. I don't mean that it's a knockoff, it's just something that I enjoyed for a lot of the same reasons that I enjoy de Lint.

These characters were awesome. They're people (or not) that I woul
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Trisha
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
In my opinion, you really can't call yourself an Urban fantasy fan if you haven't read this book. This is one of, if not THE book that started it all.

There are fairies (but don't call them that if you know what's good for you) of every shape and size, lust, love, rock n' roll and a war between Seelie and Unseelie courts- what more could you want?

How about characters you care for almost instantly, magic that somehow makes sense even when it doesn't, and don't forget- the magic of music.

This is n
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Peter
Jun 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
In my mind, this novel is the forerunner to a variety of urban fantasy ventures that have been written since and gotten more attention (e.g. "American Gods"). It's the Led Zeppelin to Gaiman's AC/DC. Or something like that that makes more sense. As might be expected from a book that drips hip despite its pop culture references now being 20 years old, an allusion to Homestar Runner is one of my favorite ways to summarize it:

"Faeries are dragging us into their bloody war!"
"I don't want to take any
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Jamie Collins
Nov 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-urban
Can Eddi and her new band save Minneapolis from the Unseelie Court?

The Fey are not my favorite fantasy creatures, and this book got off to a weak start, but I was soon enjoying myself. This is described as "one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy". It was written as contemporary fiction in the 80's (our heroes are fond of vests, denim jackets and high-top sneakers) and features an out-of-work singer/guitarist who gets dragged into the middle of a Fairy war. She's guarded by a fabulous phou
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Allison Hurd
Such a fun read. As someone in the center of the Venn diagram of "loves folk lore," "loves music," and "loves books," this was basically made for me. If you like badass urban fantasy with great tie ins to Celtic lore and have fond memories of going to shows, you really need to check this out.

CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The phouka. Yeah, I know Eddi is the main character, and she's pretty gr
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fantasy fiction is everything
4.5 stars. My second original English version of fantasy fiction.
Minli
Dec 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sirens-2010, mythic, adult
I have a friend from Minnesota, about 4 years younger than me, who complained, "nothing ever happens here. Can't wait to join you in New York for college." After reading Tam Lin and other works by The Scribblies, and now War for the Oaks, I've got to say, "No, no. Actually, I think Minnesota is where it's at."

There are many shades of myself. One is a girl who likes to walk barefoot through the forest and climb up treehouses, who picks daisies and makes snow angels. Another is a girl who loves th
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Krystle
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was described as the foundation for urban fantasy-ish, so I just had to read it. Right off the bat I could tell where Holly Black got her inspiration from for her Tithe series as it was glaringly obvious (even if I had only read the first few pages of that book). Let me tell you, after reading poor novels from this genre I didn't have high expectations for it. Well, this book completely blew the others out of the water and has definitely set the mark for others to meet.

The world she c
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Snarktastic Sonja
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sometimes, in order to enjoy a classic, you have to realize that it was not written today. To read this book and criticize it for jumping on the "fae" "shifter" bandwagon is not recognizing that it started then bandwagon - it did not join the train in progress.

I have heard about this book for years. It was written before I became immersed in Urban Fantasy. I'm not completely sure how I missed it at the time it was written as it was also before my refusal to read Urban Fantasy. (yes, yes, we all
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Chadwick
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: black nail polish, listens to bands that actually mean it
Recommended to Chadwick by: neil gaiman. i know, i know.
This book is probably pretty awesome if you are a 14 year-old girl with black nail polish. For me though, the only reason I'm giving it two stars rather than none is a sort of sweet enthusiasm for her characters and theme that the author manages to project, despite her crap hand with plot and characterization. It's a novel of fairy (faeraiye? Doesn't it seem that the blacker the nail polish, the more vowels should go in that word?) warfare, with a rock-n-rollin' Minnesotan named Eddi as the mort ...more
Eric
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of urban fantasy
While I am not sure it is still the best example of urban fantasy out there -- Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Kevin Hearne, etc. -- it is an important book as a prototypical work in the genre. For that alone it is worth the read. But it is also worth a read because it has a kick ass protagonist on a hell of a journey, some of my favorite Fae characters of all time -- especially the Phouka -- and a finale reminiscent of a certain scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
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Emma Bull is a science fiction and fantasy author whose best-known novel is War for the Oaks, one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy. She has participated in Terri Windling's Borderland shared universe, which is the setting of her 1994 novel Finder. She sang in the rock-funk band Cats Laughing, and both sang and played guitar in the folk duo The Flash Girls while living in Minneapolis, Minne ...more
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“Sometimes, she reflected, she dressed for courage, sometimes for success, and sometimes for the consolation of knowing that whatever else went wrong, at least she liked her clothes.” 43 likes
“I’ve no surety that it is. I know only parts of what I feel; I may be misnaming the whole. You dwell in my mind like a household spirit. All that I think is followed with, ‘I shall tell that thought to Eddi.’ Whatever I see or hear is colored by what I imagine you will say of it. What is amusing is twice so, if you have laughed at it. There is a way you have of turning your head, quickly with a little tilt, that seems more wonderful to me than the practiced movements of dancers. All this, taken together, I’ve come to think of as love, but it may not be.

It is not a comfortable feeling. But I find that, even so, I would wish the same feeling on you. The possibility that I suffer it alone–that frightens me more than all the host of the Unseelie Court.”
39 likes
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