British Fiction Focus

Return to the First of All Worlds: New Editions of The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay

With the publication of Children of Earth and Sky earlier this year—reviewed right here—Hodder & Stoughton did, I think, a damn fine job of welcoming Guy Gavriel Kay to the tremendous list of talent it’s been building behind the scenes. Now, not six months since, it’s doubling down on the World Fantasy Award-winning author’s place in the speculative space with the release of new digital editions of his very earliest efforts—complete with lovely new covers that nevertheless “retain elements of the old” by the same artist who did the originals: a Mr. Martin Springett.

Together, The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire and The Darkest Road chronicle the lives of five men and women who find themselves flung into the magical land of Fionavar, First of All Worlds.

They have been called there by the mage Loren Silvercloak, and quickly find themselves drawn into the complex tapestry of events. For Kim, Paul, Kevin, Jennifer and Dave all have their own part to play in the coming battle against the forces of evil led by the fallen god Rakoth Maugrim and his dark hordes.

Kay first came to fame when he was retained by the Tolkien estate “to assist in the editorial construction” of The Silmarillion, but it was The Summer Tree that kicked off his career as a proper novelist. Incredibly, said text celebrated its 30th birthday in the autumn of 2014—in some style, let it be said—about which milestone Kay had this to say:

I have used various calculators, an abacus, and fingers, toes and forks (don’t ask) to make the number come out smaller, but it don’t work. Thirty years. Ye gods and little fishes, as they say, when they aren’t really swearing.

And I have made my joke about being 14 years old at the time too often. Won’t do it here (well, sort of won’t).

The truth is, in a culture where the newnewnew is king and queen, where books disappear (off shelves, out of print) with increasing and alarming speed, I feel deeply grateful and profoundly honoured that Fionavar has remained out there, throughout the English-language world (and in many other languages) all this time.


Expect The Fionavar Tapestry’s shelf-life to be substantially extended by the ebooks Hodder & Stoughton mean to release on September 16th. They might not be newnewnew, but they’re greatgreatgreat, and make no mistake.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.


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