THE DARKEST ROAD
Volume 15 Number 4
With The Darkest Road, Guy Gavriel Kay completes his Fionavar Tapestry. And what a remarkable, truly satisfying finish it is.At the end of the second book of the trilogy, The Wandering Fire ¹, only four of the original five companions remain, for Kevin became a willing sacrifice to the Goddess in order to break the killing winter holding Fionavar in thrall. Numb with grief, the friends soldier on: Paul, aboard Prydwen, defeats the Soulmonger, a monstrous creature of Maugrim's, to enable the company to continue its quest for the Lost Cauldron of Khath Meigol; Kimberly, accompanied by Brock, a dwarf from Banir Tat, journeys to Eridu and beyond to free the Giants, the Paraiko, imprisoned in their own mountain caves by the Unraveller's svart alfar; Dave, with the Dalrei on the Banks of the Adein, battles the ferocious hordes of the Dark. For her part, Jennifer chooses to stand vigil atop the Tower of Anor Lisen. Ironically, this essentially passive action requires far greater courage than the physically more hazardous undertakings of the other three, for here Jennifer must confront Darien, her son by Maugrim, now a more than significant power to be reckoned with in the calamitous struggle enveloping the Land. As with earlier instalments, Kay once more provides highly dramatic situations, explosive action and, above all, tellingly human characters of whom Darien is perhaps, the most arresting. Depicting him as an adolescent is a masterful stroke. His agonizing struggle for self-identity reminds us that he is, after all, but a youth indeed, a very confused teenager. And yet he is obviously much more than that for he represents a randomness that is not only outside Maugrim's purpose but also beyond Jennifer's power to control. He alone must choose the Light or the Dark and the destiny of all depends on that choice. Discover for yourself whether he is his mother's or his fathers's son. In conclusion, I must admit that I found this last work almost mesmerizing. As Kay draws the numerous plots and sub-plots, (the diverse threads of the scintillating tapestry) together, he makes palpable their inextricableness. The author accomplishes this by describing events involving one set of characters in such a way that the reader is continually reminded that the exploits of another group are enacted concurrently: "The next morning at the greyest hour, just before dawn Prydwen met the Soulmonger far out at sea. At the same time, on the Plain, Dave Martyniuk woke alone on the mound of the dead near Celidon." The result is an apparent simultaneity of experience that collapses not only time present but also time past. In this fashion, Kay heightens the dramatic tension but more importantly, makes credible the coexistence of the mythic and the mundane. The reader is quite willing to accept, for example Jennifer as Guinevere or Dave's trysts with the Huntress, Ceinwen of the Bow. Technically it works superbly, psychologically it is dazzling. There is little doubt that The Fionavar Tapestry is an exceptional fantasy and Mr. Kay a tremendously gifted writer. I for one, would be delighted should he decide to continue the story. Recommended, once again, without reservation and most highly, for all high school and public libraries.
Patrick Dunn, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
¹ Reviewed vol. XV/3 May 1987, p.ll2.
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