War for the Oaks: A Novel

War for the Oaks: A Novel

by Emma Bull

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Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy.

Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But her boyfriend just dumped her, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk—and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point.

By turns tough and lyrical, fabulous and down-to-earth, War for the Oaks is a fantasy novel that's as much about this world as about the other one. It's about real love and loyalty, about real music and musicians, about false glamour and true art. It will change the way you hear and see your own daily life.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466804234
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 11/01/2004
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 203,883
File size: 355 KB

About the Author

Emma Bull was born in 1954 in Torrance, California. She now lives in Minneapolis and is also the author of Finder and Bone Dance.

Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her subsequent works have included Falcon, the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-finalist Bone Dance, Finder, and (with Steven Brust) Freedom and Necessity. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Read an Excerpt

chapter 1Another Magic Moment in ShowbizThe University Bar was not, in the grand scheme of the city, close to the university. Nor was its clientele collegiate. They worked the assembly lines and warehouses, and wanted uncomplicated entertainment. The club boasted a jukebox stocked by the rental company and two old arcade games. It was small and smoky and smelled vaguely bad. But InKline Plain, the most misspelled band in Minneapolis, was there, playing the first night of a two-night gig with a sort of weary desperation. The promise of fifty dollars per band member kept them going; it was more than they'd made last week.Eddi McCandry stared bleakly at the dim little stage with its red-and-black flocked wallpaper. The band's equipment threatened to overflow it. She'd tried to wedge her guitar stand out of the way, but it still seemed likely to leap out and trip someone. She was glad the keyboard player had quit two weeks before--there wasn't room for him.The first set had been bad enough, playing to a nearly empty club. The next two were worse. Too many country fans with requests for favorites. And of course, Stuart, as bandleader, had accepted them all, played them wretchedly, forgot the words, and made it plain that he didn't care. They were the wrong band for this bar."I think," Eddi said, "that this job was a bad idea."Her companion nodded solemnly. "Every time you've said that this evening, it's sounded smarter." Carla DiAmato was the drummer for InKline Plain. With her shaggy black hair and her eyes made up dark for the stage, she looked exotic as a tiger, wholly out of place in the University Bar."It would have been smarter to tell Stuart it was a bad idea," Eddi said. "Ideally, before he booked the job.""You couldn't know.""I could. I did. Look at this place."Carla sighed. "I think I'm gonna hear the 'This Band Sucks Dead Rat' speech again.""Well, it does.""Through a straw. I know. So why don't you quit?"Eddi looked at her, then at her glass, then at the ceiling. "Why don't you?""It's steady work." Carla was silent for a moment, then added, "Well, it used to be.""Tsk. You don't even have my excuse.""You mean I haven't been sleeping with Stuart?""Yeah," Eddi sighed, "like that.""Sometimes I take my blessings for granted. I'm going to go up and scare the cockroaches out of the bass drum.""Good luck," said Eddi. "I'll be right behind you."She almost made it to the stage before Stuart Kline grabbed her arm. His face was flushed, and his brown hair was rumpled, half-flattened. She sighed. "You're drunk, Stu," she said with a gentleness that surprised her."Fuck it." Petulance twisted up his male-model features. She should have felt angry, or ashamed. All she felt was a distant wonder: I used to be in love with him.She asked, "You want to do easy stuff this set?""I said fuck it, fuck off. I'm okay."Eddi shrugged. "It's your hanging."He grabbed her arm again. "Hey, I want you to be nicer to the club managers.""What?""Don't look at me like that. Just flirt. It's good for the band."She wanted to tweak his nose, see his smile--but that didn't make him smile anymore. "Stuart, you don't get gigs by sending the rhythm guitarist to flirt with the manager. You get 'em by playing good dance music.""I play good dance music.""We play anything that's already been played to death. All night, people have been sticking their heads in the front door, listening to half a song, and leaving. You in a betting mood?""Why?""I bet the nice man at the bar tells us not to come back tomorrow.""Damn you," he raged suddenly, "is that my fault?"Eddi blinked."You pissed him off, didn't you? Why do you have to be such a bitch?"For a long moment she thought she might shout back at him. But it was laughter that came racing up her throat. Stuart's look of foolish surprise fed it, doubled it. She planted a smacking kiss on his chin. "Stuart, honey," she grinned, "you gotta grow where you're planted."She loped over and swung up on stage, took her lipstick-red Rickenbacker from the stand, and flipped the strap over her shoulder. She caught Carla's eye over the tops of the cymbals. "Dale back from break yet?"Carla shook her head, then inhaled loudly through pursed lips. "Parking lot," she croaked."Oh, goody. The whole left side of the stage in an altered state of consciousness. Let's figure out the set list.""But we've got a set list.""Let's make a new one. May as well be hanged for Prince as for Pink Floyd.""But Stuart--"Eddi grinned. "I want to leave this band in a blaze of glory."Carla's eyes grew wide. "You're--Jesus. Okay, set list. Can we dump all the Chuck Berry?""Yeah. Let's show this dive that we at least flirt with modern music, huh?"They came up with a list of songs in a few gleeful minutes. Stuart hoisted himself on stage as they finished, eyeing them with sullen suspicion. He slung on his guitar and began to noodle, running through his arsenal of electronic effects--more, Eddi suspected, to prove to the audience that he had them than to make sure they worked.Dale, the bass player, ambled on stage looking vaguely pleased with himself. Dale was all right in his own disconnected way; but he liked country rock and hated rock 'n' roll, and consoled himself with dope during breaks. Eddi cranked up the bass on her amp and hoped it would make up for whatever he was too stoned to deliver.Carla was watching her, waiting for the cue to start. Stuart and Dale were ready, if not precisely waiting. "Give us a count," she said to Carla. Stuart glared at her. Carla counted, and they kicked off with a semblance of unity.They began with a skewed version of Del Shannon's "Runaway."It was familiar enough to pull people onto the dance floor, and the band's odd arrangement disguised most of the mistakes. Eddi and Carla did impromptu girl-group vocals. Dale looked confused. Then they dived into the Bangles' "In a Different Light," and Stuart began to sulk. Eddi had anticipated that. The next one was an old Eagles song that gave Stuart a chance to sing and muddle up the lead guitar riffs.Perhaps the scanty audience felt Eddi's sudden madness; they were in charity with the band for the first time that night. People had finally started to dance. Eddi hoped it wasn't too late to impress the manager, but suspected it was.Carla set the bass drum and her drum machine to tossing the percussion back and forth. The dancers were staying on the floor, waiting for the beat to fulfill its promise. Eddi murmured the four-count. Dale thumped out a bass line that was only a little too predictable. Stuart shot Eddi an unreadable look and layered on the piercing voice of his Stratocaster. Eddi grabbed her mike and began to sing.You told me I was pretty I can't believe it's true. The little dears you left me for They all look just like you. Ugly is as ugly does--Are you telling me what to do? 
Wear my face You can have it for a week Wear my face Aren't the cheekbones chic? Wear my face See how people look at you? Wear my face See how much my face can do?They were still dancing. The band was together and tight at last, and Eddi felt as if she'd done it all herself in a burst of goddesslike musical electricity.Then she saw the man standing at the edge of the dance floor. His walnut-stain skin seemed too dark for his features. He wore his hair smoothed back, except for a couple of escaped curls on his forehead.His eyes were large and slanted upward under thick arched brows; his nose was narrow and slightly aquiline. He wore a long dark coat with the collar up, and a gleaming white scarf that reflected the stage lights into his face. When she looked at him, he met her eyes boldly and grinned.Eddi snagged the microphone, took the one step toward him that she had room for, and sang the last verse at him.I've seen the way you look away When you think I might see, You say I scare you silly--That's reacting sensibly. Why should people look at you When they could look at me?It was Eddi who had to turn away, and the last chorus was delivered to the dancers. The man had met her look with a silent challenge that made her skin prickle. His sloping eyes had been full of reflected lights in colors that shone nowhere in the room.She almost missed Carla's neat segue into the next song. She nailed down her first guitar chord barely in time, and caught Stuart's scowl out of the corner of her eye.Eddi had wanted to close with something rambunctious, something the audience would like yet that would allow Eddi and Carla to respect themselves in the morning. Carla had hit upon ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses." Halfway into it, with a shower of sparks and a vile smell, the ancient power amp for the PA dropped dead.As the microphones failed, Stuart's vocals disappeared tinnily under the sound of guitars and bass and Carla's drums. Stuart, never at his best in the face of adversity, lost his temper. He yanked his guitar strap over his head and let the Strat drop to the stage. The pickups howled painfully through his amp.Eddi heard Dale's bass stumble through a succession of wrong notes, and fall silent. She supposed he was right; Stuart had made it impossible to end the song gracefully. But for her pride's sake, she played out the measure and added a final flourish. Carla matched her perfectly, and Eddi wanted to kiss her feet for it.The dancers had deserted the floor, and people were finishing drinks and pulling on jackets. She swept the room a stagey bow. At the cornerof her vision, she thought she saw a dark-coated figure move toward the door.Stuart had turned off his amp and unplugged his axe. His expression was forbidding. Eddi turned away to tend to her own equipment, but not before she saw the club manager striding toward the stage."You the bandleader?" she heard him ask Stuart."Yeah," said Stuart, "what is it?"It's our walking papers, Stu, she thought sadly, knowing that he could save the whole gig now, if only he would be pleasant and conciliating. He wouldn't be, of course. The manager would tell Stuart what he should be doing with his band, and Stuart, instead of thanking him for the tip, would recommend he keep his asshole advice to himself.And Stuart would make Eddi out the villain if he could. Well, she was done with that now. She finished packing her guitar and tracked the power cord on her amplifier back to the outlet."You're that sure, huh?" Carla's voice came from over her head."You mean, am I packing up everything? Yeah. You want help tearing down?"Carla looked faded and limp. "You can pack the electronic junk."Eddi nodded, and started unplugging things from the back of the drum machine. "You done good, kid. Even at the end when it hit the fan."Carla shook her head and grinned. "Well, you got to go out in a blaze of something."Over at the bar, Stuart and the manager had begun to shout at each other. "I booked a goddamn five-piece!" the manager yelled. "You goddamn well did break your contract!"Carla looked up at Eddi, her eyes wide. "Oh boy--you mean we're not even gonna get paid?"Eddi turned to see how Dale was taking the news. He was nowhere to be seen."Carla, you think your wagon will hold your equipment and mine, too?"Carla smiled. "The Titanic? I won't even have to put the seat down."They did have to put the seat down, but the drums, drum machine, Eddi's guitar, and her Fender Twin Reverb all fit. They made three trips out the back door with the stuff, and Stuart and the manager showed no sign of noticing them.As Carla bullied the wagon out of its parking space, Eddi spotted Dale. He was leaning against the back of his rusted-out Dodge. The lit end of his joint flared under his nose. "Hold it," Eddi said to Carla. She jumped out of the car and ran over to him. "Hey, Dale!""Eddi? Hullo. Is Stuart still at it?""Still at what?"Dale shrugged and dragged at the joint. "You know," he croaked, "screwing up." He exhaled and held the J out to her.Eddi shook her head. "I didn't think you'd noticed--I mean--""Been pretty bad the last month. It'd be hard not to." He smiled sadly at the toes of his cowboy boots. "So, you going?""Yeah. That is, I'm leaving the band.""That's what I meant.""Oh. Well, I wanted to say good-bye. I'll miss you." Which, Eddi realized with a start, was more true than she'd thought.Dale smiled at his joint. "Maybe I'll quit gigging. Friend of mine has a farm out past Shakopee, says I can stay there. He's got goats, and some beehives--pretty fuckin' weird." He looked at her, and his voice lost some of its dreaminess. "You know, you're really good. I don't much like that stuff, you know, but you're good."Eddi found she couldn't answer that. She hugged him instead, whispered, "Bye, Dale," and ran back to the car.Carla turned north on Highway 35. Eddi hung over the back of her seat watching the Minneapolis skyline rise up and unroll behind them. White light banded the top of the IDS building, rebounded off the darkened geometry of a blue glass tower nearby. The clock on the old courthouse added the angular red of its hands. The river glittered like wrinkled black patent leather, and the railroad bridges glowed like something from a movie set."I love this view," Eddi sighed. "Even the Metrodome's not bad from here, for a glow-in-the-dark fungus.""Boy, you are feeling sentimental," said Carla."Yeah." Eddi turned around to face the windshield. "Carla, am I doing the right thing?""You mean dumping Personality Man?"Eddi looked at her, startled."Hey," Carla continued, "no big deduction. You couldn't leave Stu's band and stay friends with Stu--nobody could. So kissing off the band means breaking up with Mr. Potato Head."Eddi giggled. "It's a really pretty potato.""And solid all the way through. This'll probably wipe the band out, y'know.""He can replace me," Eddi shrugged."Maybe. But you and me?""You're quitting?""I'm not sticking around to watch Stuart piss and moan." Carla's tone was a little too offhand, and Eddi shot her a glance. "Oh, all right," Carla amended. "Stuart would scream about what a bitch and a traitor you are, I'd tell him he was a shit and didn't deserve you, and I'd end up walking out anyway. Why not now?"Eddi slugged her gently in the shoulder. "Yer a pal.""Yeah, yeah. So start a band I can drum in.""You could play for anybody.""I don't want to play for anybody. You do that, you end up working with bums like Stuart."With a lurch and a rumble of drumheads, they pulled in the driveway of Chester's. Even in the dark, its bits of Tudor architecture were unconvincing. The bar rush that hit every all-night restaurant was in full force; they had to wait for a table. When they got one, they ordered coffee and tea."So, are you going to start a band?"Eddi slumped in her seat. "Oh God, Carla. It's such a crappy way to make a living. You work and work, and you end up playing cover tunes in the Dew Drop Inn where all the guys slow-dance with their hands in their girlfriends' back pockets.""So you don't do that kind of band.""What kind do you do?"Their order arrived, and Carla dunked a tea bag with great concentration. "Originals," she said at last. "Absolutely new, on-the-edge stuff. Very high class. Only play the good venues."Eddi stared at her. "Maybe I should just go over to Control Data and apply for a job as Chairman of the Board."Carla looked out the window. "Listen. You don't become a bar band and work your way up from there. There is no up from there. It's a dead end. All you can become is the world's best bar band."Eddi sighed. "I don't want a new band. I want to be a normal person."Carla's dark eyes were very wide. "Oh," she said."Hey," Eddi smiled limply, "it's not like you to miss a straight line.""Too easy," Carla said with a shrug. Then she shook her head and made her black hair fly, and seemed to shake off her sorrow as well. "Give it time. You don't remember how awful it is being normal.""Not as awful as being in InKline Plain.""Oh, worse," said Carla solemnly. "They make you sit at a desk all day and eat vending machine donuts, and your butt gets humongous.""Now that," Eddi said, "is a job I can handle.""If you work hard, you get promoted to brownies." Carla set her cup down. "Come on, let's roll."Outside, the wind was blowing. It had none of the rough-sided cold of winter in it; it was damp, with a spoor of wildness that seemed to race through Eddi's blood. It made her want to run, yell, do any foolish thing ... ."You okay?" Carla's voice broke into her mood. "If you don't get in the car, I'm gonna leave without you."Eddi took pleasure in the dash to the car, the way the wind tugged on her hair. "Roll the windows down.""Are you bats? We'll freeze."Eddi rolled down her own, but it wasn't enough. As they drove toward the city, the early spring madness drained away. The wagon's rattles and squeaks, its smell of cigarette butts and old vinyl and burnt oil, took its place. By the time they'd reached the edge of downtown, Eddi felt weary in every muscle and bone.What should she do now? What could she do? It sounded fine to tell Carla that she wanted to be normal for once, but Eddi had never been suited to a normal life. Once she had taken a job as a security guard, patrolling an abandoned factory from four until midnight. Each night her imagination had tenanted the shadows with burglars and arsonists. At the end of a week the shadows were full, and she quit. She typed too slowly--did everything with her hands too slowly, in fact, except play the guitar.As for a normal love affair, it wasn't impossible. She was reasonably intelligent. She was attractive, though not beautiful: blond and gray-eyed with strong features and clear skin; and she was small and slender and knew how to choose her clothes. But she wasn't sure where to find men who weren't--well, musicians."Mighty quiet," Carla said, as if she already knew why."I'm ... I guess I'm beginning to realize the consequences of everything.""Mmm. You going to chicken out?""No. But ... would you call me tomorrow? Around two-ish? I figure I'll call Stu at one and tell him.""And you'll need someone to tell you you're gonna be okay."Eddi smiled sheepishly. "You must have done this yourself.""Everybody has to, at least once. Don't beat yourself over the head for it."The light was red at Washington and Hennepin, the corner where Carla would begin negotiating the rat's nest of one-way streets that led to Eddi's apartment. "Let me off here," she said suddenly."Wha--why?""I want to walk. It's a nice night."Carla was shocked. "It's freezing. And you'll get murdered.""You've been living around the lakes too long. You think any place with buildings more than three stories high is full of addicts.""And I'm right. Anyway, what about your axe and stuff?"It was true; she couldn't haul her guitar and amplifier fourteen blocks. She was settling back in the passenger seat when Carla spoke again."I know, I know. 'Carla, would you mind taking them to your place and carrying them all the way up the back stairs, then carrying them back down tomorrow when you come over to keep me from being miserable 'cause I broke up with my boyfriend?' Sure, Ed, what're friends for?"Eddi giggled. "If you'd quit going to Mass, you'd make a great Jewish mother." She leaned over and hugged her."Jeez, will you get out of here? The light's changed twice already!" After Eddi had bounced out and slammed the door, Carla shouted through the half-open window, "I'll call at two!""Thank you!" Eddi yelled back, and waved as the station wagon rumbled and clanked away from the curb. The gold-and-gray flank of the library rose before her, and she followed it to the Nicollet Mall.Whatever had tugged at her in the restaurant parking lot refused to be summoned back now. Eddi shook her head and started down the mall, and hoped that the effort would blow her melancholy away. The rhythm of her steps reminded her of a dozen different songs at once,and she hummed one softly to herself. It was Kate Bush, she realized, "Cloudbusting," and she sang it as she walked.Then she saw the figure standing by the bus shelter across the street.By the shape, it was a man--a man's broad-brimmed hat and long, fitted coat. He didn't move, didn't seem even to turn his head to watch her, but she had a sudden wild understanding of the idea of a bullet with one's name on it. This figure had her name on him.You must be feeling mighty low, girl, she scolded herself, if you think that every poor idiot who's missed his bus is lying in wait for you. Still, the man seemed naggingly present, and almost familiar. And three in the morning was an odd hour to wait for a bus in a town where the buses quit running at half past midnight.Her pace was steady as she crossed the empty street. Behind her, she heard his steps begin. It's not fair, she raged as she sped up. I don't need this, not tonight. She thought she heard a low laugh behind her, half the block away. Her stride lost some of its purpose and took on an edge of panic.South of the power company offices, Eddi turned and headed for Hennepin Avenue. If there were still people on any street in Minneapolis, they would be on Hennepin. A police cruiser might even come by ... .The footsteps behind her had stopped. There, see? Poor bastard was just walking down Nicollet. I'll be fine now--A black, waist-high shape slunk out of the alley in front of her. Its bared teeth glittered as it snarled; its eyes glowed red. It was a huge black dog, stalking stiff-legged toward her. Eddi backed up a step. It made a ferocious noise and lunged. She turned and ran in the only direction she could, back toward Nicollet.She got one of the streetlight posts on the mall between her and the dog and turned to face it. It wasn't there. Across the street, in the shadow of a doorway, Eddi saw the silhouette of the man in the hat and long coat. He threw back his head, and she heard his laughter. The streetlight fell on his face and throat and she saw the gleam of his white scarf, his dark skin and sloping, shining eyes. It was the man from the dance floor, from the University Bar. She ran.The footsteps behind her seemed unhurried, yet they never dropped back, no matter how fast she ran. She tried again to turn toward Hennepin. The black dog lunged at her from out of a parking ramp exit, its red eyes blazing.This is crazy, she thought with the dead calm of fear. Muggers and mad dogs. I'm stuck in a Vincent Price movie. Where are the zombies?She was running down Nicollet again before she realized that it couldn't be the same dog. But it was insane to think that the man could have known she would walk home, impossible to think he had a pack of dogs. Her breath burned in her throat. She had a stitch in her side. Her pace had become a quick stumble.She'd almost reached the end of the mall, she realized. Two blocks away were the Holiday Inn and the Hyatt, and she could run into either, into a lobby full of light and bellhops and a desk clerk who'd call the police. She staggered across the street toward Peavey Plaza and Orchestra Hall.The black dog seemed to form out of the shadows. Perhaps it was only one dog, after all; surely there weren't two dogs like this. It was huge, huge, its head low, its fur bristling gunmetal-dark in the street light. It growled softly, in macabre counterpoint to the waterfall sounds of the Peavey Plaza fountain. Did the damned dog know it stood between her and safety? How had it gotten past her? She moved sideways, through the concrete planters that marked the sidewalk level of Peavey Plaza. The hotels seemed miles away now. She would have to try to lose both dog and man in the complexity of the ornamental pool and fountains below her, and escape out the other side.The dog lifted its head and howled, and Eddi thought of the dark man and his laugh. She wanted to curse, to throw something, to be home in her bed. She raced down a flight of steps, then another.The footsteps behind her were sudden, as was the tap on her shoulder. She tried to turn in midstride and her foot didn't land on anything. Just before she plunged backward and headfirst down the last of the steps, she saw the man behind her, his eyes wide, his hand reaching out.Then pain took away her fear, and darkness took the pain.Copyright © 1987, 2001 by Emma Bull

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War for the Oaks: The Screenplay 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
dalnewt More than 1 year ago
This book is simply captivating. It's the story of Eddi, a singer/songwriter/musician, who leaves a lackluster band led by her egotistical boyfriend and encounters the fey on her walk home. The seelie court of faerie has decided to bind her to them in their upcoming war against the unseelie. Despite Eddi's reluctance to involve herself in a fey war, the phouka, (a shapeshifter responsible for recommending Eddi to the seelie court), insists she's endangered and forcibly moves into her apartment. He becomes her roommate cum bodyguard and, eventually, her roadie. With encouragement from the phouka and her drummer, Eddi auditions new band members including an arresting lead guitarist named Willie Silver. The book seamlessly segues from Eddi's entertaining/humorous/touching interactions with the phouka to band practice/gigs to encounters with and attacks by the fey, including some romancing by a faerie lord. Further, there's fey battles in Minneapolis parks/greens, and fey partying accompanied by love. It all culminates in the ultimate gig. If you like rock combined with fantasy, fantasy combined with romance and/or fantasy about faeries/magic, then read this fantasy. This book is one of the few fantasies which offers an intensely satisfying read on multiple levels.
Oakheart on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not just for teens -- why should you miss a good read because the publisher has slapped a label on it? On par with de Lint's urban fantasy work, and that's saying a lot from me.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Originally published in 1987, War For the Oaks by Emma Bull is considered one of the earliest examples of urban fantasy and, quite frankly, it blew my socks off. Chock full of adventure, romance, musical references and various magical beings, this story of a young Minneapolis musician who gets caught up in a war between the two faerie courts was really, really good.Eddi McCandry is a rock and roll singer who is having a very bad night. Her band just broke up, she and boyfriend are on the rocks, and then as she is walking home from her seemingly last gig, she meets both a phouka and a Glaistig, members of the Seelie Court of Faerie. Somehow, she has been chosen as the mortal that will enter the battle between the Seelie & Unseelie Courts. She has no chose in this matter, and to make matters even more bizarre, the phouka, a being that can change shape from a man to a dog, is to be her live-in body guard.Emma Bull tells a great story filled with intelligent and well defined characters. The 1980¿s setting added unintentional charm to the story with characters who dressed like members of Fleetwood Mac, and made no references to computers, cell phones, or I-Pods. This book never felt dated to me however and I found the story had a very contemporary feel. I¿ve seen some complaints that the author spends too much time writing about the band and the music, but I really enjoyed that part of the story. Overall a great fantasy read, and one I recommend to admirers of urban fantasy.
debs4jc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eddi is a musician who is recruited by a Faerie creature called a Phouka (who can turn into a dog at will) to be involved in a faerie war. Eddi is understandably apprehensive at first, but gradually get's drawn into the Phouka's world, meeting other Faerie beings and discovering unusual ways to use her musical talent. It took a while for me to get into this, but I found it quite satisfying, especially for the relationships between the characters. Some of the descriptive parts were a bit over the top, but easily tolerated to learn what happens to the facinating people you meet in this story.
craso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eddi McCandry is a singer and rhythm guitar player. The band she was in broke up and with it her relationship with her boyfriend. Eddi and her friend Carla decide to form their own group. At the same time she is told by a dog/human creature called a phouka that she has been recruited into a war between two ruling factions of Fairie society. At stake is the heart of Minneapolis. Through her music she must fight for her friends, loved ones, and the city.I enjoyed the mixing of folklore and modern urban life. All of the settings are in either the city or in different parks. A water being materializes in a fountain in the middle of the city. The phouka doesn¿t like riding in cars so they buy a motorcycle. Fey folk can play rock and roll as well as fairy music. All of these plot points add to the modern feel of the book. My only criticism is that the descriptions of clothing and music is very 1980¿s, which can be a bit distracting.It is great to read a story where the main character is a strong woman. Eddi is smart and talented. She is a leader of both mortals and fairy folk and she is willing to fight for those she cares about.
ursa_diana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, you really can't call yourself an Urban fantasy fan if you haven't read this book. This is one of, if not THE book that started it all.

There are fairies (but don't call them that if you know what's good for you) of every shape and size, lust, love, rock n' roll and a war between Seelie and Unseelie courts- what more could you want?

How about characters you care for almost instantly, magic that somehow makes sense even when it doesn't, and don't forget- the magic of music.

This is no cut and dry good vs. evil tale either, like all great urban fantasies it's a whole palette of shades of grey, although you do know who's side you come down on- it's not entirely ambivalent, like some of Caitlin R, Kiernan's work- but you definitely see the beauty in the darkness.

And woven through it all is an honest to goodness amazing love story.
So very highly recommended.
rkinch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a fun read. The mixture of rock n' roll and fantasy was well done, and the growth of Eddi's character throughout the book in relation to her band and that of the faire world is subtle and makes you want to not put the book down until you have seen her through the whole ordeal. Some people on amazon criticize the book for outdated references and fashion, but the immersion in the eighties made the book that much more entertaining.
knielsen83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this novel. I could barely stop laughing when I first started it. The humor in it is simply hilarious and even as the book gets more serious there is still some cheek to the dialogue. I really loved the plot and the characters. The music involved simply drew me in and I almost wish I could play guitar so I could relate a little more to the main character. Absolutely fantastic urban fantasy novel.
snat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has been popping up on my Amazon recommendations list for probably a year now. That, combined with the fact that there's a quote on front in which Neil Gaiman states, "Emma Bull is really good" (which may seem scant praise, but is everything to a Gaiman fan), I finally decided to just go ahead and order it. After reading it, I concur with Mr. Gaiman--Emma Bull is really good. An urban fantasy set in the 1980's, Bull takes full advantage of the time period by showcasing the music and the lavish, ridiculously wonderful over-the-top 1980's clothing (really, other than perhaps the Glam Rock period of the 1970's, there's no other time period in which a story such as this would work to such effect). Eddi is a musician chosen by the fey to be the mortal who will bring death to the battlefield in the Seelie Court's battle against the Unseelie Court (who will bring darkness and gloom to the city should they triumph). Bull draws heavily on the folktales of Ireland and Scotland and her faeries are wonderful creatures--seldom completely good or evil, but always looking to bend events to their favor with no regard to the consequences brought upon others. My favorites include Hairy Meg (a brownie from Scotland who brought her thick brogue and cantankerous temper with her) and the hilariously mischievous phouka who serves as Eddi's bodyguard. You can practically see these faeries as they may have been imagined by Jim Henson or Brian Froud. Overall, my only criticism is that the ending seemed a little anticlimatic (it did seem a little too easy to defeat the Queen of Air and Darkness) and shifts in time periods weren't always made clear. Other than that, an excellent book.
kcslade on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good fantasy about a woman in a rock band.
julied on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have never read any book before that so well made me understand the synergy and energy of a band until I read this book. I would think that probably holds for any band playing any sort of music, on varying levels.If that were all that there were to War for the Oaks it would be interesting but not worth recommending. Not since Neverwhere by Neill Gaiman have I read such wonderful urban fantasy. The book begins with Eddi who is having a very bad night. She has broken up with her boyfriend, which also means their band is now kaput, and then she finds herself in the dark city streets fleeing a truly terrifying vicious dog ... who suddenly changes into a man. Thus begins Eddi's coercion into being the mortal being needed by the Seelie Court of Faerie for their upcoming war with the Unseelie Court. Ostensibly the Seelie Court are the good guys but as these beings all are operating under completely foreign rules it is often difficult to tell the difference. Eddie is left with the dog/man, otherwise known as a phouka, as a bodyguard as she goes about her regular life of forming a band while waiting for the war to begin.This is all a pale description of a rich story that pulls the reader into the world of Emma Bull's making. We learn about champions, love, truth, honor ... and , of course, musicians.
Stewartry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow. Eddi McCandry is a singer in a rock and roll band that also includes her boyfriend and her best friend, until one early spring night it goes south. Her boyfriend, who has been becoming more and more odd, flips out, their current gig falls apart, and she finally leaves, the band and the boyfriend. And Eddi literally walks home... and her life takes a wild left turn when she is grabbed by a phouka to be a part of a war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts of Faerie. Her presence as a mortal on the battlefield will allow the combatants, otherwise immortal, to be able to kill each other dead (not something I've ever heard of in fantasy before, but convincingly presented)... She is taken to stand on the side of the Seelie Court, and of course once the Unseelie hears about it they will be out to kill her as a blow to their enemy... In order to protect her, the same phouka who chose her and snatched her is set to protect her. Day and night. Every minute. For the entire six months the war is expected to last. Eddi is not best pleased by any part of this situation - but, once chosen and revealed to the Court, she has no choice; she is marked as the mortal representative, and even if the Seelie Court let her go, the Unseelie Court would assume it was a ploy to misdirect them and kill her anyway. She's stuck. And the phouka is driving her crazy.Those are the bones of the story. What the book is really about is want. It's about wanting what is needed to survive, and wanting what is needed to live; wanting what will make life better, wanting what is not good for you, wanting what you can never have, wanting something which, attained, isn't what you thought it was... Every person in this book desires something, or someone, or both... Yearning weaves through the pages like the weft of a tapestry, sometimes subliminal and sometimes plainly stated.I knew by the first page that this was what I was looking for: beautiful, unique characters; tight, lyric yet down-to-earth writing, a view of Faerie which is the writer's own spin on tradition ... and an ending that does everything an ending should. Gorgeous.
Spoonbridge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The War for the Oaks is one of my favorite fantasy reads. I really enjoy the juxtaposition yet complimentary aspects of mundane contemporary life and the strange, alien world of the supernatural fairies that seem to lurk just out of everyday perception. I have always liked the subtle mix of the fantastical and the commonplace, and I think that Emma Bull does it very well here, marrying these contradictory themes into a cohesive (and compelling) whole. One of the earlier works in the genre of ¿urban fantasy,¿ ¿The War for the Oaks¿ (Bull¿s first novel) expertly weaves together many threads into an entertaining plot; Celtic folklore, rock music, and love, all under the backdrop of a lovingly described 1980s Minneapolis.Telling the story of down on her luck musician Eddi McCandry and her sudden and frightening introduction of the warring bands of Fey, the Seelie and the Unseelie courts who each hope to take the Twin Cities for their own side. The normally immortal beings need a mortal witness to make their battles fatal and heighten the stakes of their centuries old conflict. Bull draws heavily on Celtic folklore to really bring her fairies to life, making them feel authentically ancient and otherworldly and yet playful in their interpretations of modern life.The characters, both mortal and fey alike are very well drawn, likeable, and believable and as much detail is put into the practice of Eddi¿s band, and though I have know musical experience seemed to bring further authenticity to the work. The action however is very dated to the 1980s with its outrageous fashion and the Minneapolis Sound in music highly evident, which I personally enjoyed but others may find jarring. Some of the shifts in romantic relationships may also become a bit clichéd in certain segments, but for the most part the characters remain quite real.In addition, Bull makes the setting of the Twin Cities into a character itself; it definitely appears to be a tribute to Minneapolis and Minnesota in general, and I really can¿t think of a better city for a story like this to take place in. To me the Twin Cities, with its parks, lakes, rivers, glittering skyline and mix of cultures, seem perfect for urban fantasy and Bull utilizes this setting to the fullest, drawing in local landmarks from Minnehaha Creek to the Como Conservatory (and of course, First Avenue).¿The War for the Oaks¿ really works for me as one of the best depictions I¿ve seen of the culture of the Twin Cities and really works in the themes of urban fantasy very well, making it almost difficult to tell when the ¿urban¿ ends and the ¿fantasy¿ begins. I highly recommend the novel to anyone interested in urban fantasy, folklore, rock music, or the Twin Cities as a setting, and though it may be a little too `80s for some, Bull has created a truly nice summer read.
kaionvin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
War for the Oaks's the kind of book where I end up feeling like I'd have to be exactly like the main character to really love the story, because it has so wish-fulfillment. In this case, the main character Eddi is an aspiring musician. I'd have to be youthful in the 80s and into rock and roll and jamming into my guitar and fantasy (well, I guess I am the last one) to really appreciate the book fully like I really wanted to. But that being said, I enjoyed the atmosphere Emma Bull crafted, both on the 'urban' side* with the travails of gigging (even if the constant name-dropping of rock songs was totally lost on me, Bull seems to speak from a place of real experience) and on the 'fantasy' side with the war between the fairy courts (where sometimes Bull crafts some really beautiful language** and spooky situations).*The Minneapolis setting is particularly refreshing (not only because I've never read anything set in Minneapolis, but also because it's integrated into the story and Emma Bull really seems to love it there).**She's good at set-up but does tend to pull punches at the conclusion where it should get tighter but instead she falls back onto purple prose.But yeah, War for the Oaks is a good example of the urban fantasy genre. It's not trashy, but it's also the kind of book where you always get to know what the main character is wearing (and it's actually quite entertaining because it's always an hideous-sounding 80s ensemble featuring a signature piece that Eddi inevitably found at a thrift/vintage store), along with her love interest (whose fashions tend more towards the hilariously romantic, but it's the kind of story that's self-aware enough that Eddi calls him on it).
selfnoise on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent take on edgy, character-driven urban fantasy.
TheAlternativeOne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
War for the OaksEmma BullOrb Books2001Trade PaperbackISBN: 0765300346336 pagesIt¿s not often that someone invents a sub-genre but Emma Bull did just that when she wrote ¿War for the Oaks¿ in 1987. The book is a pioneer of urban fantasy which I¿ve labeled as Urban-Magic-Rock and Roll, if you will. Somewhat dated by the description of the clothes and the musical influences and set in Minneapolis (of all places) it is filled with supernatural and mythological characters and occurrences.¿War for the Oaks¿ is the story of Eddi McCandry, a musician who finds herself unwillingly forced into the world of faerie which is embroiled in a conflict between the embattled factions of light and dark.Eddi has had a rough night. Not only has she broken up with her boyfriend but she¿s quit her band. Little does she know that things are about to get even more tangled than they already are. On her way home, in a brooding, pensive state, she is stalked by a mysterious man and his menacing dog. Later they turn out to be one and the same creature, a phouka. This shape shifting prankster enlists her as the cornerstone in an ongoing battle between the good fairies of the Seelie Court and the dark and dangerous Unseelie Court, ruled by the Queen of Air and Darkness.Eddi soon finds herself embroiled in a battle for survival between the two warring factions of fairy-world while simultaneously attempting to reconstruct a new band and in the process, a new life. Meanwhile, her emotions for her stalker take a slow three-hundred and sixty degree turn. Her resentment toward the phouka for dragging her into the war develops into gratitude for his efforts to protect her against the dark queen, and subsequently turn into devotion and then love. The story culminates during a battle-of-the-bands between Eddi and the Queen of Air and Darkness, which decides the fate of both faerie courts, as well as the fate of the supernatural creature she loves.Pop-Culture, Mythological, and Literature references:* The Queen of Air and Darkness ¿ A novel by T.H. White originally titled ¿The Witch in the Wood.¿* The Queen of Air and Darkness ¿ A story by Poul Anderson.* In Celtic mythology and folk-lore, the wisdom of darkness is often expressed by powerful goddess figure known as The Queen of Air and Darkness.* Phouka - Variants: pooka, puca - No fairy is more feared in Ireland than the phouka. This may be because it is always out after nightfall, creating harm and mischief, and because it can assume a variety of terrifying forms.* Seelie Court - is a term used in Scottish folklore to indicate a group of light fairies. The Unseelie Court then indicates the opposite.* Robin Goode - probably a reference to Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck the mythological fairy of mischievous nature.* Daoine Sidhe - The divine Fairy folk of Old Irish folklore.* Glaistig - this creature of Scottish Mythology is described as a beautiful woman with dusky or gray skin and long blonde hair. Her lower half was that of a goat, usually disguised by a long, flowing green robe or dress.* Brownie ¿ is a type of hob or hobgoblin and are said to inhabit houses and aid in tasks around the house; a legendary creature from Scotland and England.* Redcap - A Red Cap or Redcap, also known as a powrie or dunter, is a type of malevolent murderous dwarf, goblin, elf or fairy; they are frequently seen on battlefields picking through the possessions of the dead and wounded.* Bands and musicians mentioned: Prince Rogers Nelson aka Prince; Peter Gabriel; The Beatles; Kim Carnes; and Bram Tchaikovsky, among others.* Rowan berries - In ancient times the rowan was referred to as the Tree of Life and the red berries have ensured that it is held in high esteem by many pagan traditions, for red food has been traditionally seen as food of the Gods.* St. John¿s wort - For thousands of years, people considered it a magical herb with supernatural powers, as implied by its Latin name, Hypericum perforatum, which means ¿over an apparition.¿ *
flemmily on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not big on urban fantasy books like these any more, but I did enjoy this one. I liked the main character, Eddi, and her friends. I got a kick out of how there was always one sentence about her outfit - it reminded me of how important that was to me when I was younger and the little style descriptions would give me inspiration in my drab suburban life. There is also a wonderfully romantic scene towards the end which made me hold my breath. The story and the writing reminded me a lot of Charles de Lint, who was the first urban fantasy writer I read.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In some ways, this is not like any book I've every read of this sort. But others, it is quite derivative, especially of Charles DeLint. The writing in this book is the best I've read in a very long time - every sentence continues the story, and in some places it reads a bit like poetry. Where it fails, is in the world of fairy - it seems very simplified. Also, Eddi McCandry while likable and real, accepts her situation too quickly. And, I really can't see her loving somebody like the Phouka - he's both too sarcastic but to gentlmanly for her. The secondary character are quite wonderful and fully fleshed out - From Willy Silver to Eddi's Best friend, Carla. I liked that Eddi was not isolated as in many other stories of this sort. She has friends, a social life, a career. As somebody from Minnesota, I was tickled at reading references to Uptown, Loring Park, and Prince. Emma Bull knows the Minneapolis Area, and especially loved that the final showdown was at the Como Zoo Conservatory. I love that place!
les121 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the classics of the urban fantasy genre, War for the Oaks combines fascinating characters, beautiful writing, and a unique take on magic and music to create a very engaging novel. It doesn¿t have a ton of action, but it slowly draws you into the story until you won¿t be able to put it down. Though it was written in the eighties, it doesn¿t feel outdated. Overall, it¿s a haunting, elegant, romanic story that any fan of urban fantasy will love.
ecolenca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really can't say enough good things about this book. It has it all, from humor to scenes that *will* make you cry, to a determined heroine and a ragtag band of heroes standing up to the baddest-ass fae of them all. The utterly mundane setting of Milwaukee is great, as is the nicely original background of building a rock band. Really excellent read.
Mendoza on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
War For The Oaks is a minor fantasy cult classic with its appealing and unusual blend of the world of rock and roll performers with the coexistent world of Faerie. Considering it was originally published in 1987 I think this novel was years ahead of it's time.I like the combination of low and high fantasy - it worked for me. What I don't like is that it is a stand alone novel and having come to expect nearly all my favorites to be apart of ongoing series I'm disappointed.
grundlecat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stunning urban fantasy, one of the best I've ever read. Don't suppose there's a sequel?
elfgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a stealth favorite of mine. I hunted it down while it was still out of print on a recommendation from a stranger. It was worth the effort. The plot is rich and unique (urban fantasy wasn't nearly as prevalent in the mid-80s as it is now), and the characters are memorable and well-written. Ms. Bull incorporates the Irish/Scottish legends of the Seelie/Unseelie courts seamlessly and to great effect.Well worth reading (and now back in print, so much easier to find).
orangejulia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite urban fantasy books because of the ways in which the fey are inhuman. They can easily be dark, cruel and deadly. Also, Bull does a great job of showing how capricious the fey can be and how that can be both good and bad. I have a hard time describing this book excep to say it's completely amazing and should be read.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting and well written. Seelie fights unseelie with the involvement of some human musicians. The complicated politics make it more interesting than most of this genre.