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Publisher's Summary

A two-time Aurora Award winner, best-selling author Guy Gavriel Kay has garnered the International Goliardos Prize and World Fantasy Award nominations for his brilliant fiction. 

The Darkest Road - the gripping conclusion to Kay's critically acclaimed Fionavar Tapestry fantasy trilogy - finds five university students from our world preparing to sacrifice themselves as they enter into final battle against a power of unimaginable proportions.

©1986 Guy Gavriel Kay (P)2009 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Darkest Road

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    4 out of 5 stars
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LOTR + Arthurian Legend Mashup

I feel like I would have enjoyed this series more if I hadn’t finished reading Lords of the Rings recently. Had I known this series was essentially a beat-for-beat reinterpretation of the Lord of the Rings (with Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere thrown in for good measure) I may have put it off for awhile until the tropes wouldn’t feel so overused to me.

While I did not enjoy it as much as I may have with better timing, I do feel this is an underrated series that I think has MASSIVE appeal for a certain segment of the Fantasy reading population.

1) people that find the original Lord of the Rings to be too difficult to get into. This is a much easier to read version of LOTR
2) people that love Tolkien and are in their "happy place" while reading books that are inspired by/closely resemble Tolkien's work, or
3) People that are fairly new to Fantasy and therefore won't be put off by all the standard Fantasy tropes used in this series.

THE GOOD

LOTR Allegory: It's hard to say if this is a positive or a negative, but this series leans into Tolkien HARD. The author helped compile and publish the Samarillion, so clearly this imitation/homage is intentional and done with love. However, as a reader this is either going to be something you enjoy or something that you are turned off by. Literally every theme and aspect of LOTR is here, but usually with just a minor name change, or small twist. There is also a bit of borrowing from Earthsea going on here, with “true name magic” being important at some points of the story. While this series has its own character and originality within the framework of a reinterpretation, it’s still a LOTR clone, if a very well formulated one.

Reread Potential: I feel like this series could have been my favorite series if I'd read it as a teenager. I feel that despite its scattering of very dark moments, this series lends itself better to a younger readership. But as an older reader, with a lot more Fantasy books under my belt, this series is just too “been-there-done-that” feeling for me to enjoy that much. However, I have no doubt that the more this series is read, the more detail can be wrung from it, as it's hard to absorb all of it in a first reading. If you're looking for a series that you'll be able to revisit and discover new nooks and crannys, then this may be the series for you.

The Prose: The author is very well known for his beautiful prose, and despite this being his first books you can see that he clearly had a grasp on his storytelling voice right from the start. The prose is noticeably a cut above most fantasy authors.


THE BAD

King Arthur: The inclusion of King Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere in the series is unneeded and distracting in my opinion. They are worshiped like rockstars by both the author and all the characters, and frankly the unending fawning over the characters felt to me unearned and irritating as I’m not an Arthurian legends fan. Men instantly respect/worship and women instantly fall in love with Arthur and/or Lancelot (one character, thousands of years old, commits suicide within a day of meeting Lancelot because she falls hopelessly in love with him but can’t have him).Perhaps if I was a fan of the Arthurian legends I’d feel differently, but this series assumes that as a reader you are a fan of the stories. It’s an element that doesn’t need to be here, and since this is already a LOTR retelling, adding in another borrowed element to the mix feels unneeded, distracting, and unoriginal.

Too Much Going On: there are too many names and plot threads to keep up with. Too many names, too many plots, too much of everything. I enjoyed the story more when I gave up trying to keep up with everything. Once I just let it wash over me I enjoyed it more.

Plot Armor: Kim, arguably the most important person on the side of the good guys, is constantly running around without any kind of guard. She can do super huge amazing epic magic things, but is completely incapable of defending herself against even a guy with the club, so of course no one ever thinks of giving her a guard. She literally gets knocked out and kidnapped once per book.

Character Development: due to a 3rd person perspective that flits restlessly from person to person depending on the need of the storytelling, it take a long time to develop the characters in this series. The five main characters are developed to different degrees, ranging from completely flat (Jennifer) to somewhat flashed out (Kevin) to fairly well developed (David, Liz, & Paul). It was actually one of the supporting characters, Matt, that felt best developed in the series. It isn't really until the third book before I really felt like I knew the main cast of characters.

THE UGLY

Rape: there is a rape that is a major plot point for the series. In fact, for the character that is raped, it is pretty much her defining feature. She’s "the character that got raped." While the fallout the character experiences feels like a genuine attempt by the author to show how horrible the act is, I'm just SO. OVER. RAPE. as the go-to “traumatizing event” for female characters. That same character who is raped also has only two purposes in the story: to be “the one who was raped” and to otherwise just to stand there and look beautiful, so as to pined after by Arthur & Lancelot. She contributes nothing else to the plot, except perhaps her one important scene in the 3rd book where she is basically so heartless it borders on evil.

Weeping: seriously, someone cries in every scene. Usually the women, but this series also features a lot of men in touch with their emotions, because there is SO MUCH CRYING.

Narration: Simon Vance is one of my faves, but his American accent needs work. Otherwise, a great reading.

Overall, a great series for someone looking for a more accessible version of LOTR, or just looking for a Tolkien look-alike series. If you’re a King Arthur fan too, this even better.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-16-20

Awesome

This trilogy is one of the best I have ever read. It took a while to appreciate the voices the narrator used for some of the characters as the ones in my head were so different. This will always be the case for a much loved book. Overall this is a brilliant narration of a fantastic book.

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  • Happy Reader
  • 07-24-20

Good book terrible narrator

Absolutely ruined the book. Simon Vance seems to think he needs to do accents instead of acting. Half the characters sounded like Welsh villagers the others sounded like Scottish Farmers
Young’s characters sounded like old people with a bad throat. Gods sounded like pantomime villains
Awful awful awful