I only remembered one thing about the second-to-last book in the Faerie Path series, The Enchanted Quest: the ending. Everything else was a total blur before this re-read. I can kind of, sort of see why.
With the plague continuing to devastate Faerie, Tania has to make another quest: this time to the ends of the world to seek the realm of Tirnanog. Only there can she find the mysterious and powerful Dream Weaver, and receive the answer to curing Faerie. But no enchanted quest is ever easy, and Tania’s going to come up against the worst obstacles yet—even death.
I honestly forget how long it’s been since I read The Enchanted Quest. All I remember is getting to the end, and being unbelievably excited that there was another adventure before the story was over. By that point, I was so lost in the realm of Faerie that I didn’t want Tania’s story to be done. However, upon re-reading this book, I can say that it’s one of the weaker entries in the series.
Let me be clear that just because this entry is weaker does not mean it is bad. This is the first book that we spent entirely outside of Faerie, and the things we see are still imaginative. We finally get to see dragons, for heaven’s sakes! We get to truly see Tania at her lowest points, and her relationship with Edric gets strained for a reason other than teenage spats.
Edric, having learned the Dark Arts (powerful and addictive magic) from his deceased master, believes that he can master them for good, in spite of no one ever having come away from them unscathed. He must deal with the temptation of trying to prove everyone wrong, and honoring Tania’s wish that he never use them. No one really trusts him as a result, but we, like Tania, still hope for the best, since Edric has been her rock through this crazy journey. That kind of tension is actually great for this story, since Tania is already dealing with so many unknowns.
I think part of why this entry is weak is because of its villains. And this one has two. Both of them aren’t really fully introduced until after the midway point of the book. And while they do wicked things, there isn’t enough time to really come to hate them. At worst, they are cartoony and over the top, and at best, are just forgettable plot devices.
On one hand, you have Lord Balor, who seeks the secret of Immortality by trying to capture Tania and her sister Rathina. He is the sort of villain who laughs wickedly while monologuing about his pure, unstoppable wickedness. But on the other hand, you have the Green Lady, who steals Edric away to be her consort, and actually tests Tania’s love for him. The Green Lady is an infinitely better villain, if only because her test for Tania has an interesting connection I did not see before.
The Green Lady’s test for Tania very closely mirrors the famous Scottish story of Tam Lin. The Tam Lin story features a human girl whose fairy love is stolen from her by a wicked queen, who then tests the girl by transforming the fairy into all kinds of forms—including fire itself. And if the girl ever lets go of her love, even in such painful forms, then she will lose him. Tania, similarly, must never let go of Edric, otherwise she will lose him too. You can feel Tania’s strength and resolve even through the pain, and it is one of the most powerful scenes in the book.
As if I wasn’t slightly boasting about my knowledge of Celtic folklore, here is one more thing.
The place Tania and her friends must go to find the cure is called Tirnanog. Now, anyone with knowledge of Celtic folklore would know that Tirnanog is the place of eternal youth and beauty—the Celtic version of Heaven. Therefore, you could have guessed that, in order for the cure to be found, someone in Tania’s party would have to die. But again, that’s me being an insufferable know-it-all, and if you’ve stopped reading at this point, I don’t blame you.
In spite of this book not being my favorite in the series, it still has its strong points, and it does provide a good lead-in to the finale. It’s so funny how I’ve been reading this series since I was fourteen, and only now, thirteen years later, do I finally come to the ending! Tally ho!