Book Review: The War of the Flowers

The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams does what only the best fairy tales can, it reflects real dreams and nightmares into a world where readers can experience them on an epic scale. The main character is a hero of circumstance and certainly not one of choice. Theo Vilmos is a thirty year old teenager tossed into a terrifying fantasy world with just an eccentric relative’s journal for aid.

Faerie isn’t forests and The book came out in 2003, but the terrifying world of Faeries holds many parallels to today’s problems. Issues like limited resources, deforestation, immigration, droning (okay, dragoning), and civil rights get a magical twist. The book has a darkness that is reminiscent of Grimm Fairy Tales. The scariest part is how real the issues of Faerie feel. I wanted to riot for the right’s of Goblin’s and chain myself to Faerie’s lovely trees. Faeries seems to take on the worst aspects of humanity. Williams contrasts those worst aspects with Theo who may not be the best of humanity, but is at least trying to be good. The setting was so fascinating I couldn’t help feeling cheated that I didn’t get more. I would read a history of Faerie if Williams wrote it. Instead I was stuck with the understanding of Theo who is largely an outsider. It’s the difference between seeing a country as a tourist or with a native.

Here’s an example of a book passage that only technically relates to fairy but I can see parallels to plastic surgery in our humble mortal land.

“Did it hurt? Having your wings cut off?”

“Hurt? No. No, of course not. This is the modern age. They can cut away your entire life and you’ll never feel a thing.”

Though Theo isn’t native, the native cast brightens the book. The quote example features Theo and his friend Cumber. My personal favorite was Applecore. She’s the epitome of pixy sassy. A woman with moxy. I advise reading the book and getting to know the cast.

One of the reasons I chose this book during a recent Barnes and Noble shopping spree was because I wanted a novel I could read without committing myself to a never ending series. I’m already invested in too many series where I’m waiting for a book to come out or the funds to purchase more books. That being said, the book isn’t a short commitment. It’s five parts and 816 thrilling pages in paperback form. The beginning took me a little to get into, but after part one I was staying up into the twilight hours to finish the story. Though it left me wanting a whole series worth of books set in Faerie, the ending answered the right amount of questions. If you need more beautiful nightmares, this book is for you.

Cheat Sheet:

Book: The War of the Flowers

Author: Tad Williams

Genre: Fantasy

Bottom Line: Great books always end too soon. This modern Faerie tale left me wanting more. More of the world and more of the characters.

Read and be merry!


P.S. This is the first book review I’ve done on this blog. I’ve done reviews for school publications before and my general policy is no major spoilers. In the case of major spoilers, I will endeavor to label them in an obnoxiously clear manner.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: The War of the Flowers

  1. That’s the thing with Tad’s books – they’re so long, and still leave you wishing they were longer!

    Applecore is hilarous – now I want to reread War of the Flowers, but I have so many other books waiting for me…

    • It’s the worst because I slowly get towards the end and it’s so sad. I feel that way about most of my favorite fantasy authors. I definitely relate to having too many books to read. It’s troublesome but at the same time one of my favorite problems to have.

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