This is my second read-through of The Wandering Fire by Guy Gavriel Kay. Last year, I devoured the book in a matter of days and failed to capture my experience at the moment. While dumb in hindsight, it did give me an excuse to revisit the story again and I loved it even more the second time around.
Kim, Paul, Kevin, Dave, and Jennifer return to their timeline in shambles after the events of The Summer Tree. The once bright Jennifer has dimmed and shut herself away after the realization that she is carrying Rakoth Maugrim’s child. Kim patiently waits for a dream to help guide them back to Fionavar. And the rest of the group anxiously bides their time. When long-awaited answers finally arrive, the group makes their way back to Fionavar and finds a world buried in winter and on the precipice of war. The Weaver has plans for them all, and the group will make their mark on the tapestry and set Fionavar’s fate into motion.
If The Summer Tree was an exploratory adventure through Fionavar, The Wandering Fire is a dose of heartwrenching reality. Kay finds a way to bruise the soul and then bump up against it throughout the entire story. The story picks up months after the group’s return from Fionavar, but the group is hurting in more ways than one. Each character has a sore spot and you cannot help but hurt for them because Kay does not mess around. However, among the sorrow and dread, there are brilliant moments of love and levity that brought out a real smile when reading. The darker undertones made those instances so much brighter and both elements rounded out the story beautifully.
At this point in the story, everyone is finding their place in the tapestry. The world of Fionavar continues to grow, but the group is more confident in the roles they have to play. Kim has effortlessly stepped into her role as Fionavar’s next Seer. Dave has found a family among the Dalrei and charges into the battle at their side. While Paul does not understand his power as Lord of the Summer Tree, he begins to confidently navigate the world and put things into motion. Jennifer attempts to find a path forward after experiencing Rakoth’s terror and finds that she is an important piece of a tragic story. As for Kevin, he is the glue that holds everyone together and his destiny has yet to reveal itself. Each character holds a special place in my heart, and I love seeing how much they have grown since the first book.
As much as I loved the first book, The Wandering Fire was next level for me. Kay masterfully builds his world in book one, but it did take some time for me to get situated. When tackling book two, all the chess pieces were on the board and I just had to sit back and watch the game play out. I enjoyed being more rooted in the story this time around. This is not to say that new elements are not introduced, but I had a better grasp of the world which was incredibly helpful because the events unfold at a rapid pace. I am still in awe of how compelling Kay’s storytelling is, and I feel as intricately tied to Fionavar as the core group does.
The Wandering Fire is easily one of my favorite reads of all time, and I cannot wait to see what Guy Gavriel Kay has in store for the finale. With how this book ended I cannot believe I did not make a mad dash for the third and final book last year. However, I will not be making that mistake twice so keep an eye out for my adventure through The Darkest Road to wrap up The Fionavar Tapestry series.
Rating: The Wandering Fire – 10/10