The Darkest Road, Fionavar Tapestry #3 by Guy Gavriel Kay

The Darkest Road - Guy Gavriel Kay

The epic fantasy ends about where you expect it to, but Kay throws in a few surprises that prove his story of light overcoming darkness was a subtle one, too.

 

There is a lot going on in this book and Kay picks up on a lot of Arthurian lore and other Western myths in fleshing out the book, but the story hinges on one major act and, for me at least, two minor.

 

The first is of course the decision that Darien, son of Rakoth and Jennifer, must make between light and darkness. Jennifer sacrifices much to ensure that he has freedom to choose however he wishes. He's a wild card.

 

The minor decisions were that of Kim in refusing to heed the Baelrath's call. Instead of binding a powerful force as an ally of the light she chooses a more merciful option and it is never clear if this worked out for the best or not. The point was that Kim had that freedom to relinquish her power. Similarly, was Paul's decision to be merciful instead of vengeful to a sworn enemy. Freedom of choice is the central element of this fantasy series. Much of the language is so wrapped up in vows and tradition that its easy to forger this, but everyone in Fionavar has a choice. I'm not sure if they can say that in Middle Earth.

 

My previous criticisms of the place of women in this universe still stand. I'd hoped that Sharra at least would mimic Eowyn and be badass in battle but instead she tends the wounded and mourns. As a bonus we are introduced to Fionavar's very own "Lady of Shalott". Woof.

 

I still enjoyed reading this and was glad I took the time to revisit the place. I may have to read carefully with Kay's other work however, but that's one of the risks we take. There is a sequel, of sorts, to this trilogy that features a couple of the characters on Earth dealing with ancient magic in the south of France.

 

Fionavar Tapestry

 

Next: 'Ysabel'

 

Previous: 'The Wandering Fire'