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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of the Evil Wizard
Once Upon a Dreadful Time (2007) is the fifth fantasy novel in the Faery series, following Once Upon a Spring Morn. In the previous volume, Celeste killed the Gorgon, restored Avelaine's shadow, and then shot Nefasi dead with the gray arrow. The Changeling Lord invoked a protective circle and taunted Roel just before the knight slashed through the magical shield with...
Published on June 16, 2008 by Arthur W. Jordin

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a dreadful book
I thought a wrap-up of the four "once upon" books would be a satisfying read. Instead this book has excessive back story and absolutely horrific descriptions of the witch Hradian's spell-casting, etc. From her disgusting sex antics with swamp-dwelling bogles to her attempts to determine just how to mess with the royal family by gory entrail cutting, I began to completely...
Published on September 10, 2008 by J. Ackerman


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of the Evil Wizard, June 16, 2008
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Once Upon a Dreadful Time (2007) is the fifth fantasy novel in the Faery series, following Once Upon a Spring Morn. In the previous volume, Celeste killed the Gorgon, restored Avelaine's shadow, and then shot Nefasi dead with the gray arrow. The Changeling Lord invoked a protective circle and taunted Roel just before the knight slashed through the magical shield with Coeur d'Acier and took off his head.

The Gorgon's death freed Laurent and Blaise from her enchantment and these two knights joined with their brother to fight the Changelings. The three knights and two women fled the castle, but were eventually forced to stand and fight. The Changelings were about to overwhelm them when the warbands of the Forests of the Seasons and the crewmen of the Sea Eagle charged to their rescue.

In this novel, Hradian has been living in a vile swamp while seeking a way to wreck vengeance upon the killers of her sisters. For the past four years, the witch has been observing King Valeray, Queen Saissa and their children, wondering how she can destroy these murderers without losing her own life. Then suddenly she conceives a dreadful plan.

King Valeray and Queen Saissa are holding a tournament in their domain and have invited their children and spouses as well as other guests to the Palace of the Seasons. This domain can only be reached through the surrounding domains. Yet it is starwise -- north -- of Winterwood, Summerwood, Autumnwood and Springwood, although at the center of these four Forests of the Seasons.

Their guests include Prince Borel and his wife Michelle, Prince Alain and his wife Camille and their son Duran, Princess Liaze and her husband Luc, and Princess Celeste and her husband Roel. They also invite Roel's parents -- Sieur Emile and Lady Simone -- and his siblings Laurent, Blaise and Avelaine. Vicomte Chevell --Avelaine's husband -- is unable to attend due to other commitments.

Even before they arrive, Queen Saissa and the princesses have been feeling sensations of malevolent presences around themselves and their spouses. Only the females -- and the male wolf Slate -- have these feelings. Moreover, Michelle and Camille only sense this evil presence while in the company of their husbands.

The men and the women separately discuss these feelings of malevolent presence. In the process, Roel's family members are brought up to date on the encounters of King Valeray and his children with the evil wizard Orbane and his acolytes. All decide that the sensations are probably caused by the workings of the witch Hradian, the last living acolyte of the imprisoned wizard.

In this story, the tournament and other festivities are enjoyed by a great crowd from the local domains, from elsewhere in Faery, and even from the mortal lands beyond. The games include the caber toss, the hammer throw, the discus hurl and many others. Finally come the epee duels, the melee and the joust.

In the echecs matches, Borel is pitted against Regar of the Wyldwood. While playing the stranger, Borel learns that Regar is the illegitimate grandson of the Fairy King. After Borel loses, he offers Regar a drink and then introduces him to the royal family.

Hradian prepares an odious potion and uses it to steal the key to the Castle of Shadows. She flies her broom to the Black Wall of the world and into the darkness. Crossing to the Castle, she frees Orbane and takes him away.

Orbane starts raising his armies among the Trolls, Changelings, Bogles, Goblins and other foul creatures. He raises a dark cloud to cover the land and a great pestilence from the swamp. Then he marches toward the River of Time.

King Valeray musters all his levies and allies and asks Sieur Emile to command the army. The warbands gather at the castle in the domain of the seasons and then march toward their enemy. On the way, their allies join them here and there.

Regar travels with Flic, Fleurette and Buzzer to the Halls Under the Hill to warn his grandfather. He is introduced to the whole court, but Queen Gloriana is cold to his presence. The Fairy King summons his army and they set out the next day, but two months have passed in the outside world.

This tale is the conclusion of the Faery series. The machinations of the acolytes of Orbane have been thwarted in the previous four volumes, but now the wizard has been freed from the Castle of Shadows. The whole of Faery and the mortal world is threatened with disruption of time itself. Enjoy!

Highly recommended for McKiernan fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of black and white magic, heroic courage, and joyous romance.

-Arthur W. Jordin
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a dreadful book, September 10, 2008
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I thought a wrap-up of the four "once upon" books would be a satisfying read. Instead this book has excessive back story and absolutely horrific descriptions of the witch Hradian's spell-casting, etc. From her disgusting sex antics with swamp-dwelling bogles to her attempts to determine just how to mess with the royal family by gory entrail cutting, I began to completely skip the chapters written from her point of view. A big disappointment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful fairytale, October 7, 2007
From time to time, the spouses of the rulers in the Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn Woods feel as if someone is watching them but they never see anyone. They do not realize that the witch Hradian, acolyte of the faery Wizard Orbane is watching them. She tries to figure out a way to release her master who is imprisoned in the Castle Of Shadows in the Great Darkness beyond the Black Wall of the World. She also wants him to kill the princes and princesses of the various woods domains and their parents Valeray and Saissa because they killed her three sisters..

The father is responsible for Orbane's imprisonment and the children are responsible for the deaths of the witch's three sisters. She sees who has the key to unlock the prison; so Hradian transforms herself into his wife and tricks him into giving it to her. She releases the monster Orbane who imprisons in the Castle of Shadows Valeray, his wife, their children and grandchild and then goes about gathering allies to use on his master plan to rule faery and the human world. The spouses of the imprisoned princes and princess gather an army to fight Orbane but they have to successfully solve the riddle the three fates give each princess if they hope to vanquish the darkness.

ONCE UPON A DREADFUL TIME is a magical and beautiful fairytale that takes place in the world of faery where the laws of science don't work. Fans read about all kind of creatures from mythology and legend like sprites, unicorns, wizards, witches and giants. The characters from the four previous books in the saga make major appearances and play significant roles however it is the three fates and their riddles that are the most important part of the plot because without them the heroes wouldn't have a chance of survival let alone winning; with that they still remain the underdogs.

Harriet Klausner
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5.0 out of 5 stars Once Upon A Dreadful TIme, April 12, 2014
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Nice light read -- for me, this is what they call "A beach book," I use it to escape the hum-drum of daily life into a fantasy that carries you along. Really a gentle fairy tale.
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3.0 out of 5 stars okay, June 22, 2013
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This review is from: Once Upon A Dreadful Time (Mass Market Paperback)
Not nearly as good as his other novels. Kind of boring and under developed. Definitely not his best writing which is too bad.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fairy Land, February 18, 2011
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This review is from: Once Upon A Dreadful Time (Mass Market Paperback)
I enjoyed this series. It grabed me from the first. I couldnt wait for the other books to come out. "Once Upon a Dreadful Time" kept me turning the page to see what came next.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good End to A Good (but not great) Series, January 9, 2010
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Amazon Customer (Alexandria, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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This is really a review for the whole series. I leave it to others to preview the action, this is just my opinion of the book. The first book was the best (*****) but the whole series was a nice effort from Mckiernan. Not great, but solid, well worth reading for fantasy fans. His character held together well, story lines were good. I recommend the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful Time Review, April 19, 2009
This review is from: Once Upon A Dreadful Time (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the last book in McKiernan's Faery Tale series.

It wasn't bad. I think it would have helped if I could remember more of the other stories that'd happened previously. As there were quiet a handful of characters to remember and keep track of.

McKiernan certainly didn't flinch in his descriptions of the witch Hradian and the wizard Orbane when doing some of their vile acts.

And he did drop off from the heavy usage of a lot of thees and thous. I think it was Once Upon a Spring Morn or Summer Day that the over excessiveness of cutesy prose threw me off. He still has that cutesy prose and use of the language, but its far more tolerable and serves to flavor the book as a Faery Tale and fun fantasy.

I don't like giving away too many spoilers and I'm sure that other Reviewers have given plenty. So I'll say that I found the pacing of the book to be consistance and keeping the reader engaged and willing to read more. And if you read this far, it's a good follow up and final story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying Culmination of Faery Series, July 10, 2008
Reviewed by Vicky Burkholder
on 07/10/2008

This is the sixth book in the Faery series from McKiernan. If this is any indication of what the other books are like, they should be pretty good reads.

The story is written almost like an old-fashioned fairy tale with disgusting magic spells from the dark witch, horrible creatures that inhabit her stereotypical swamp and a goal of revenge against those who killed her sisters. Hradian the witch keeps watch over the spouses and rulers of the seasonal realms of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. They are responsible for imprisoning her mentor, Orbane. Hradian figures out a way to free him and imprison the rulers and, of course, she and Orbane, plan to take over the world and let evil reign.

It is up to the group including Camille, Alain, Celeste, Saissa, Valeray and others to figure out the riddle of the Fates and save the world from Orbane and Hradian. Like any good fairy tale, nearly insurmountable odds are placed in front of them, but also like any good fairy tale, good always triumphs in the end.

This is a satisfying culmination of the books of Faery, a place where the laws of science don't exist, magic rules, and fantastical creatures roam the wilds. Although technically a stand-alone novel, readers new to the series should consider starting at the beginning as many of the main characters from the earlier books are in this one. But even if you don't, you'll still be able to understand what's going on without much trouble. It ties up all the loose ends and gives you a satisfying, if somewhat predictable, read.
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Once Upon A Dreadful Time
Once Upon A Dreadful Time by Dennis L. McKiernan (Mass Market Paperback - October 7, 2008)
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