The War of the FlowersTad Williams
fantasy > urban fantasy
Cover: Michael Whelan.
Theo Vilmos' life is about to take a real turn for the worse.
Not that it was ever that great — spending the last decade of his life as a singer in a succession of not terribly successful Northern California rock bands isn't exactly a dream come true. But what can Theo do? When his girlfriend Cat gets pregnant, it seems like it's time to give up his irresponsible dreams and settle down. Until now, Theo has always skated through life — getting by on good looks and charm but short on accomplishments, never quite fitting in. The only place that he's ever felt truly right, the only world to which he's ever really belonged, is onstage, enveloped in music, singing his heart out. But isn't that a pretty immature way for a thirty-four-year-old to feel? Now Cat is pregnant and things are going to change big time. Theo will be forced to change, too. So maybe this is a good thing — just what he needs.
But, as Theo discovers, he hasn't hit bottom yet, not by a long shot. He soon finds himself alone, heartbroken, and plagued by a recurring nightmare — and he can't shake the feeling that these bad things are happening to him for a reason. When he comes across a mysterious old letter from his grandmother's brother, a man named Eamonn Dowd, and with it the key to a safe deposit box, he decides to investigate. What he finds is an old handwritten book.
Seeking solace and escape in a cabin in the woods, Theo begins to read his great-uncle's book and quickly becomes mesmerized. Dowd writes of another world — the world of Faerie — but it is nothing like the familiar fairyland of childhood stories.
Caught up in the book's compelling tale, Theo begins to hear strange sounds and experience odd fears. Then one night, all his fears manifest when a horrifying thing tries to break through his front door — a terrible hunting-spirit in the body of a dead man.
Terrified and trapped, Theo is saved only by the intervention of a tiny, foul-mouthed, winged sprite named Applecore, who transports him through a surreal portal into the realm of Faerie. But this fairyland is even darker and more bizarrely modern than Eamonn Dowd had described, similar to the mortal world yet dangerously different, and although he can't imagine why, there are creatures in it who intend Theo Vilmos serious harm.
Chased by corpselike cave trolls and the undead spirit which had pursued him from his own world, at the mercy of immortal beings whose personal and political affiliations are bafflingly unclear, and with only the reluctant sprite Applecore for a guide, Theo begins a journey that will lead him from the palace-towers of the most powerful and treacherous of the fair folk to the camps of rebel goblins and other places beyond his imagining, on a search for the true meaning of his life — before those who seek him can cut it mercilessly short.
Tad Williams (US, born 1957) has held more jobs than any sane person should admit to – singing in a band, selling shoes, managing a financial institution, throwing newspapers, and designing military manuals, to name just a few. He also hosted a syndicated radio show for ten years, worked in theater and television production, taught both grade-school and college classes, and worked in multimedia for a major computer firm. He is cofounder of an interactive television company, and is currently writing comic books and film and television scripts as well. Tad and his family live in London and the San Francisco Bay Area.