GGK Book Club: The Wandering Fire, ch 9-12

AKA “the first time I ever threw a book across the room.”

Cutting straight to the chase here, I was about 17 when I read THE WANDERING FIRE (in fact, I was 17, because I was in my dorm room at UAF sitting on my bed reading when I pitched the book across the room, and remember it quite vividly), and I was enraged at Kevin’s death.

Nigh unto 25 years later, coming into it again, I obviously knew what was going to happen, and had a really vague idea it had…something…to do with the goddess, but…I wasn’t clear on what.

And the truth is I think part of my rage back then was that I didn’t understand what his death was or why it had happened. I mean, yes, to buy the melting of the winter, but … I didn’t get the entire mythology, the story, the reason–and specifically I never had any fucking clue who “Liadon” was and why Kevin was Liadon and just what the everloving fuck, basically.

This time, for the first time, I deduced–I did not remember, from anywhere earlier in this book or in THE SUMMER TREE, that Liadon was Dana’s son/lover/brother, and for the first time it all kind of clicked into place, that this is an Adonis myth (which, given the prevalance of Celtic and Norse myth in these books, is probably part of what confused me: I was looking in the wrong place for the source, if I was looking at all, which I wasn’t, through my rage).

The fact that a mortal plays the part sort of stumps me even so, although possibly there’s explanation for that somewhere in there. I have more…sympathy…for the storyline as an adult than I did when I read it originally. It’s … I still find it difficult. I mean, it’s good Kevin’s got a role in Fionavar, it’s good that his weird sex thing has an explanation, and–as pointed out in this terrifically smart essay about Fionavar, it is foreshadowed by the song Kevin himself writes:

Love, do you remember
My name? I was lost
In summer turned winter
Made bitter by frost.
But when June comes December
The heart pays the cost.

I frankly never would have put that all together myself, and I still think it’s…hard. I think GGK was reaching for something there and I’m not quite sure he made it, not if it took me 25 years and I don’t know how many re-reads and somebody else’s insightful essay to put all the pieces together. I want to have some kind of better understanding earlier on, some kind of…hook that lands Kevin’s sexual experiences more comprehensibly on his eventual fate. I want to see it coming, if not the first time through then at least in retrospect, and I just…don’t. Quite. Even now.

Ahem. Okay. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, the other chapters. :)

I talked about Finn and Dari in the last entry, but they still kill me here. Dari’s transformation to adulthood (or something close enough) is heartrending, and all I can kep thinking is the poor kid deserves more time.

Okay, ‘ve just run out of time to write this, ,speaking of time, so I’m going to post it even if there’s probably more I could say :)

1 Comment


  1. Late again, and I apologize. Part of it is that, much like the last chapter of The Summer Tree, Chapter 11 of this one was very difficult to read, because I knew what was coming. It’s difficult for different reasons, but still difficult.

    And hey, Chapter 9 was no slouch for the tearjerking, either. But there’s a certain beauty in Finn’s arrival and his transformation, even as my heart is breaking for him and Dari, and Dave and Kim, as their wonder in bringing back the Wild Hunt is tempered by the sacrifice that it entails.

    Then there’s the bit where Paul and Kevin are talking right before Paul leaves to stay with Vae and Darien, and I’m wondering, “Is that the last time they get to talk to each other?” And the answer is yes, and their hug and Kevin’s “Adios, amigo” is all the more poignant for that.

    The wolf hunt is well-written, and then there’s the foreshadowing with Kevin and the boar and his blood on the snow like the white flowers. Again, it’s interesting to reread the series just because there’s so much more that I understand.

    I like the scenes with Diarmuid and Sharra because he’s *asking* her and respecting her decisions and see, it’s not that hard, is it? He’s willing to wait because it’s Midsummer’s Eve and they’re not entirely in control of their emotions. And I believe him when he says he would have not taken off his disguise had she not obviously been waiting for him.

    And so we come to Kevin. It’s true that there’s not a lot of indication as to what exactly he’s going to do. I think a bit more wouldn’t have hurt. It seems like we find out more about what the feast means and the whole Liadon legend *after* he’s already gone. But what a way to go, I suppose.

    I kind of want to punch Leila, even if that’s not really fair to punch a 14-year-old. She’s lashing out in her grief, but I don’t think that Jennifer is a fair target. She’s still broken and has to get used to the idea that she’s *also* a mythological figure.

    Finally, oh, Paul. You’re… just not very good with Darien. You’re not. First you sleep in Finn’s bed and scare the heck out of him at night, and then you take him to the Summer Tree and start talking to Cernan and Brendel and you kind of forget to keep track of where he is, so he overhears everything instead of someone telling it to him directly. I can’t imagine it would be an easy thing for him to hear directly, but it would have to have been easier than finding out like this.

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