Theo Vilmos enjoys the carefree life he has come to lead. He's thirty years
old, still singing in garage bands with teenage bandmates, working part
time delivering flowers, and living with his pregnant girlfriend, Cat. When
he comes home one night to find her lying in a pool of blood on the bathroom
floor, Theo's fun-filled days turn grim. What follows that nightmarish
evening when Cat loses their baby are a series of events that
make Theo's life miserable. Cat leaves him, he loses his job at the flower
shop, and his mother dies of cancer - all within the span of a few short
Beginning to think that the worst that could happen already has, Theo sells
his mother's house and rents a cabin in the woods, as far away from
civilization as he can get. There, going through some of his mother's boxes,
he learns about a safety deposit box left by one of his great-uncles. In the
box, he discovers nothing more exciting than a leather-bound notebook. His
great-uncle's journal describes a magical world called Faerie in great
detail, and although a scribbled note specifies that the writing is a work
of fiction, Theo begins to suspect that it is largely autobiographical.
One night, while reading the journal, Theo gets a visit from a real live
fairy. Applecore is half a foot tall with translucent wings, an Irish accent
and the ability to curse like a sailor. Taken aback, and believing himself
to be dreaming, Theo is hospitable to the redheaded woman - even though
she's the size of a ballpoint pen. After serving her tea in the cap of a
beer bottle, Theo gets another visitor, and this one isn't nearly as
friendly as Applecore. In fact, it's grotesque and terrifying, only vaguely
resembling human shape, and Theo can't mistake its murderous intent. Before
he has time to realize what's going on, Applecore opens a portal and saves
them both from the apparition by thrusting them into Fairyland.
Theo's adventures in the world of Faerie are as exciting for the reader as they are
for Theo himself. Tad Williams has created an in-depth realm that seems as
real as our world does, even though it's populated with some of the
strangest characters to ever appear between the pages of a fantasy novel.
Theo quickly comes to realize that things in Faerie are even stranger than
his great-uncle had described, and he finds himself in the middle of a
conflict between the ruling fairy houses.
Theo is endearing as the main character in The War of the Flowers. Most days, he only
struggles to stay alive in a confusing, menacing environment. There's something appealing about a hero who doesn't understand his
heroic qualities, instead seeing himself as a normal, uninteresting sort of fellow.
Theo's growth throughout the novel is remarkable. He learns to function in
a world full of danger and peril and yet dominated by the
same forces as Theo's own. In the process, he learns that he has more
courage than he ever gave himself credit for, and he manages to play a large
role in the political turmoil that threatens to destroy both Faerie and the
The benign, comforting tales of fairies that we grew up with as children are
turned on their head through Williams's masterful storytelling, in a world
populated by mythical fantasy creatures, slavery, prejudice, and a desire
for power are as evident and destructive as they are in our own world. The War of the Flowers is an in-depth, thought provoking novel that urges the
reader to think about a myriad of important issues by exploring them through
the veil of a fantasy setting.
If you're looking for a captivating, hard to put down fantasy novel filled with fascinating characters and thought-provoking themes, look no further than The War of the Flowers.