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The Darkest Road

The Darkest Road is the final volume in The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. This beautifully crafted trilogy began with The Summer Tree and continued with The Wandering Fire, following five University students from Toronto as they cross into Fionavar, another world, where fate awaits them. The Darkest Road is the epic battle between Rakoth and the armies of the Light. The characters of Jennifer, Arthur and Lancelot is tightly bound by their past and future selves. Encompassing all fate is Darien, a lonely child who must choose between Light and Dark and in that act, can either save or doom all worlds. In the midst of battle, the Seer Kimberely is left without the power she used to summon armies to war against the Dark, now struggles with the casualties resulting from her action. In the final and darkest moments of battle, Paul, Lord of the Summer Tree, finally discovers what gift, or curse, the title of Twiceborn granted him.
The Darkest Road forms the final piece in The Fionavar Tapestry where Guy Gavriel Kay crafts a conclusion that is beautifully written and emotionally powerful, a satisfying conclusion that maintains the integrity of the trilogy.

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The Norse Myths

A clear and easily understood collection of retellings, The Penguin Book of Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland provides good foundations for later exploration into texts exploring the translations and topics from the Norse Poetic Eddas. The Introduction discusses some of the important elements of Norse cosmology and culture before detailing the different roles gods and goddesses played in early Norse society. Essential discussion is also included on the much- debated topics including whether the Norse time was perceived as linear or cyclical and the complex fusing of two pantheons of deities, the Aesir and Vanir. The majority of Norse Myths contains the translations from the Poetic Eddas. These include myths of how the nine worlds were created, the creation of different beings, gods, dwarves, elves, monsters and mortals. The tales also detail the clashing groups of deities and the eventual fusion into a single pantheon, the warrior Aesir and the fertility Vanir. The legendary tales of Loki, a sibling to both the Vanir and Aesir but also a being of Chaos. The darker elements of Norse mythology eventually focus on Loki and the inevitable events preceding Ragnarok, the war between Odin and the heroes and Loki and the giants before the ultimate dissolving of the nine worlds by Surt.
The Penguin Book of Norse Myths is a fabulous collection for any audience, allowing a glimpse into rich tales of the ancient Norse world in a translation still mysterious but vividly portrayed.

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Amerindian Folktales

The anthology Coming to Light was originally published in 1996 and edited by respected academic Brian Swann. The collected literature comprise translated oral tales, songs and poems sourced from numerous Amerindian cultural traditions throughout Canada and the United States. The anthology provides an introductory note by at least one academic or respected source detailing and explaining the historical, cultural and linguistic context of each literature item and thus, allowing insight to better understand each tale. The translations are honest and, without attempted re-fashioning by the translator, each piece is has the sensation that it is told directly to the reader as if by the original orator first-hand. The literature collected within the anthology covers an immense span of style from creation mythologies and stories to cautionary fables of legendary figures and events, tales of heroes and monsters always combined with tasks and tests of moral character.
Coming to Light is an invaluable resource for academic, literature or anthropological pursuit, providing all audiences with a way to appreciate the richness of traditional Amerindian oral traditions.

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Wakinyan or the Thunderbird is an important and mythological figure in many North American folktales, stories and cultural traditions.

Wakinyan is described as a giant bird, much like a raven in coloring but often with some aspects resembling an eagle. The Thunderbird of the Plains and mid-western Amerindian cultures is often associated with the months of summer while on the Northwestern coast, the mythic figure is often depicted holding a killer whale grasped in its talons. The Thunderbird is a mythic figure, inspiring many different forms of artwork and oral stories. Uniquely to the Amerindian tribes of the Northwest Coast of United States and Canada, the Thunderbird can be a symbol or totem associated with specific families or kinship ties. This is how the Thunderbird is often depicted on totem poles. The mythology and legends surrounding the Thunderbird are as different as the Amerindian tribes associated with the mythic creature. To the indigenous cultures surviving on the Plains and mid-western regions of the United States, the Thunderbird was associated with the summer storms, the giant wings of the Thunderbird caused the claps of thunder during a storm while the bright silver eyes were the source of lightning. The Thunderbird was also associated and invoked during ceremonies and dance relating to warfare.

In the nineteenth century, the Ghost Dance tradition became sacred among many indigenous North American cultures. A drum, created by the indigenous Pawnee man George Beaver in 1891, was part of the sacred Ghost Dance movement. The drum depicts the Thunderbird as a harbinger of war showing the bird descending from a storm bringing with it war and battle. Many of the tales, poems and dances about the Thunderbird associate the storm-bringing mythical being with the approach of warfare and the bringer of battle.

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Emperor of the Eight Islands

The Tale of Shikanoko, a new Fantasy series by Australian author Lian Hearn who thrilled Fantasy readers worldwide with the series Tales of the Otori, a mythic historical fantasy inspired by feudal Japan. This new series explores the intrigues of the Emperors’ courts and secretive dark magic of the forested mountains with the first installment, Emperor of the Eight Islands following the protagonist Shikanoko , son of a warlord whose uncle leaves him for dead in a failed assassination. Shikanoko’s life does not end alone in the mountainous Dark Wood but instead he is transformed by sorcery, changed into a mysterious and powerful weapon, a leader among the feudal clans while they clash for power and supremacy.
Emperor of the Eight Islands is a beautiful, often dark tale that explores love, honour, brutality, power and truth as facets of these coalesce in Shikanoko on his path toward self-discovery his true destiny.

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Goddess by Australian author Kelly Gardiner is a witty, complex and beautiful novel re-telling the life of French historical figure Julie d’Aubigny in the seventeenth century. Julie’s character is fiercely portrayed and utterly fascinating, the famous (and infamous) woman who boldly defied social convention instead honouring the truth of herself. Julie d’Aubigny was a remarkable woman who lived during the era of the Sun King’s court at Versailles, France. A woman who was intelligent, educated and trained to sword-fight before becoming an esteemed opera singer, she was the lover of Europe’s powerful men and women and beyond equal. Not surprisingly, it was Julie’s wit, razor-keen intellect and volatile personality that often led to social conflict, duelling and other escapades. Although these seem only consequences of passion to d’Aubigny, Julie never succumbed to social convention. While being hunted with imminent execution, Julie d’Aubigny follows her lover, a nun, within a convent, where still in hiding, Julie dies aged 33. Despite this lonely end, d’Aubigny appeared a woman who lived vibrantly, acknowledged regret but not remorseful for its existence.
Goddess is a novel sparkling with a sense of wonder, empowerment and freedom.

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The Wandering Fire

The Wandering Fire is the second volume in the Fantasy trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay.  After the defining and devastating events at the conclusion of The Summer Tree, the main characters are irrecoverably changed. While some characters like Kim and Dave have found a sense of belonging and self-discovery, others like Paul and Jennifer are so altered by experience they struggle to re-define themselves. Fionavar is gripped by an unnatural winter and threatened by impending war. A central sacrifice is made by Kevin, a defining act that brings release from the pressures assaulting Fionavar and grants true belonging to Kevin’s restless soul. With war closing in and the Wild Hunt released into Fionavar, darkness and light battle beneath the unfolding tapestry and the watchful gaze of the omniscient Weaver.
Guy Gavriel Kay did not disappoint with this second volume of The Fionavar Tapestry. Working beauty, sorrow and honesty throughout the novel, the story fulfils what began with The Summer Tree.

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The wendigo legend forms a central part of tales and lore from Amerindian tradition in the forested areas of the Great Lakes in Canada and the northern United States. Despite numerous indigenous cultures inhabiting this region, the legend of the wendigo remains consistent with only two main variations. The majority of tales describe the wendigo is a giant or monstrous human-like creature associated with the harsh winters, insatiable greed, violence, murder and cannibalism.

The wendigo is reported as a giant, often several times the size of an ordinary man or the wendigo can be an evil spirit capable of possessing humans. If possessed, the individual becomes afflicted with traits associated with the wendigo, including, lying, acts of violence, murder or cannibalism.Among the Ojibwa, the wendigo lore is detailed. For example, the wendigo is an evil spirit but takes the form of a giant monster with glowing red eyes, fanged teeth and a lipless mouth. The wendigo consumes anyone who ventures into its territory. Lore states a wendigo is also capable of possessing a human, turning that individual into another wendigo. The afflicted person now enacts the traits associated with the wendigo with cannibalism, often acting without compunction and consuming those once held dear.The common and underlying theme of the wendigo legend is the damned nature of the monster. The wendigo is often described and depicted as both gluttonous but emaciated, suggesting that despite the craving for human flesh, no satiation exists once cannibalism is committed. Doubtless the legend of the wendigo serves as a ghost story and warning fable of times when harsh winters and famine were real concerns and reminding those of the desperation resorted to in acts of cannibalism.

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The Summer Tree

The Summer Tree is the first volume in the epic Fantasy trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. Five university students from Toronto are transported by a mage into another world, to Fionavar, under the pretence of witnessing a celebration, the enduring peace of a thousand years and the continued binding of Rakoth, a god-like figure who once tried to conquer Fionavar by force. Since Rakoth’s defeat a thousand years before, he has remained chained beneath his former mountain fortress. Of the five Toronto students, each has hidden strengths and will play pivotal roles in the epic battles to come. In a spectacular catastrophe, the mages are betrayed and treachery sees Rakoth freed. The Summer Tree focuses on the importance for two of the five Toronto students. Kimberely becomes a Seer, enriched with foresight but given the power to summon armies to war against Rakoth. Paul, filled with self-guilt, entered Fionavar without a future remaining in Toronto. Paul sacrifices his life for Fionavar, hoping to repay a debt, believing incorrectly he was to blame for the death of his in a car accident. Paul becomes sacrifice to the god of the Summer Tree, the custom to deliver drought-ending rain. The gods have another fate for Paul and Fionavar and so Paul is saved from death, returned to life but always Twiceborn, conscious of ebb and flow between life and death, Paul becomes the Lord of the Summer Tree, an intercedent for the gods of Fionavar.
The Summer Tree begins a trilogy of epic battle, rich storytelling, full of fable and myth. The philosophical concept underpinning The Fionavar Tapestry is the destiny of all universes relies on the fate of the first world, Fionavar. The complex threads of fate can only be unravelled, the universe destroyed by Rakoth, the one god from outside the realms of Fionavar and seemingly beyond the effects of fate.

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The Wild Girl

The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth proved greater than expectations for a recounting of the romance behind the classic collection of fairy tales for which the Grimm brothers’ found fame.While The Wild Girl recounts the friendship and romance of Dortchen Wild and Wilhelm Grimm, the enduring romance provides a space apart from the bleak reality of Hesse-Cassel during the Napoleonic Wars. The darker aspects of life in war-ravaged Europe are abundantly clear in the Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, too poor to travel throughout Europe and collect folktales for their scholarly volume, instead relying on pieces donated from many sources. Dortchen, the middle daughter of the apothecary next-door, is one source and provides many of the most vivid and loved tales in the collections.
The Wild Girl is a rich historical tale, revealing the dark elements of Napoleonic Europe, the silent history behind the classic fairy tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and the untold story of Dortchen Wild.