In order to appreciate this volume, it is REALLY IMPORTANT to read (experience) the first volume first. So if you are reading this review and haven’t had a chance to experience THE SUMMER TREE, you should drop everything and get it, before continuing.
Unlike THE SUMMER TREE, it is not clear what THE WANDERING FIRE actually refers to, not that it matters much, as this volume picks up from where the first one left off. The first novel ended in May. This one starts six months later in November. The outcome of some truly terrible things that happened in the first volume have to be settled at the beginning of the second, which leads to a slow start as we are back in 1980s Toronto with our 5 college students, waiting for Kimberley Ford (the Seer) to have the right kind of dream that will enable her to tell them how to get back to Fionavar. Once certain matters have been dealt with (am not saying more so as not to spoil for the uninitiated) the friends set off on a 747 to London, so that they can go to Stonehenge. From there, Kimberley gets them to Fionavar.
But Fionavar is a tenser, darker place than before, an everlasting winter causing starvation and misery as packs of wolves and other unspeakable creatures roam around at the bidding of the Unraveller, an evil mage. Naturally our five college friends are bound to fight this menace in their various ways.
This is also a truly remarkable volume, displaying Guy Gavriel Kays many gifts with poetical prose, clever plot twists and characters we really care about. (My favorite is Prince Diarmuid, the younger “frivolous” son of the High King.) However, as with the first volume, the writing bears marks of an author finding his way. There are too many times when characters (especially mages) start making long speeches about arcane histories peopled with characters whose names are complex even as the point of their stories remains unclear. But if you love fantasy novels, you should try this one, which is particularly well-suited to teens. Five Stars.