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The Fiend and the Forge: Book Three of The Tapestry Hardcover – November 23, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Henry H. Neff is a full-time author and illustrator. Previously he has been a business consultant in Chicago and a high-school teacher in San Francisco. He now lives in Brooklyn with his fiancée.

You can visit the author at www.henryhneff.com.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Tapestry (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375838988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375838989
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

It's hard to write about one's self without being too cute or clever by half. When in doubt, keep it simple: here are a few insights into who I am and how I work. Ultimately, it's all about the words and pictures and how they come to be.

Today, I write books in Brooklyn, but I'm a Chicago boy at heart. In the late-1970s, at the age of four, I moved to the Chicago suburbs. My formative memories are generally pretty pleasant; a mishmash of baseball, bikes, and bad haircuts while I navigated the social labyrinth of public schools. As a history teacher, I now realize that my childhood was typical of an American kid growing up in the 1980s: middle child of divorced parents, microwaving fish sticks, and watching too much television.

Thankfully, it wasn't all fish sticks and TV. There were always books and I was a big reader. My parents were art historians and there was a lot of strange stuff to spark and stoke an inquisitive mind-books on Bosch and Beowulf, surrealist paintings, visiting artists, and mounds of comic books. It was rich fodder for a young mind and while I didn't always understand what I was looking at, I knew I liked it.

I was an artist before I was a writer. We had a big drawing board at the Neff house-a battered, scribbled-over panel of wood that I would lay out on the floor. With pencil, pen, crayon, or markers, I would create whole worlds-taped together panoramas of monsters and knights and smoldering ruins. I loved monsters-from Grendel lurking outside Hrothgar's hall, to the Minotaur, to the motley host in Sendak's, Where the Wild Things Are. If it had claws and teeth and malicious intent, I wanted to draw it. Still do.

My love of words came later. I don't know exactly what triggered it, but I love the sounds, shapes, and mental snapshots that words can conjure. From the roar of creation myths to the quiet precision of a poem, there's magic in words. The written word makes me feel a fierce connection to other people-I get to experience life through the soul and vitality of another human being. Even as you read these words, a connection is forming between us. We might be separated by great gulfs of distance or time, but still the connection exists. If that's not magic, I don't know what is.

While I love words and art, I didn't make a go of them right away. As a senior at Cornell University, I planned to attend law school when I was contacted by a consulting firm and encouraged to apply for an interview. Upon further inspection, McKinsey & Company sounded like heady stuff-a chance to work with smart people while tackling big problems. I decided law school could wait.

I spent five years in the business world and it was fine, but it just wasn't me. Despite some brilliant colleagues and intriguing projects, I was plagued by the nagging suspicion that I was wasting my life. The real me wasn't all that interested in a corner office-I wanted to be back at my drawing board, creating monsters and knights and ruins. Some might call such an impulse "geeky" or "childish," but the older I get, the more I realize that we're all strange little creatures and you have to build a life around whatever strange little things make you tick. It took nearly 30 years, but I finally concluded that I am a storyteller. I quit the corporate life cold turkey and took up teaching. During my first year teaching high school, I began to write The Tapestry.

The Tapestry is a story that I would have loved as a boy. I don't know how to write for an audience other than myself and I think the story would ring false if I tried. A fair amount of personal history is interwoven into the tale and its characters. For example, vyes are the byproduct of bad dreams I had as a boy, involving tall, wolfish creatures with squinty eyes. The nightmares were recurring and I would run into my parents' room, insisting that the "vyes" were after me. Naturally, when I needed a monster for The Tapestry, I put a call into the vyes. It was the least they could do after tormenting me so.

There are other bits and pieces of my life scattered throughout the books. An elderly married couple that I knew during college inspired the characters of Mum and Bob. A girlfriend's father once asked me if I had read Dante in the original Italian (I had not). The presence of Old Tom at Rowan-its clock tower and its chimes-are a nod to Cornell's Uris Library where I spent many an hour drowsing and watching snow settle onto the campus below. The list could go on. While personal anecdotes are nice, historic epics and mythology play a far greater role in shaping The Tapestry.

I must have been 10 or 11 when I first stumbled upon a book of Irish myths. Compared to the familiar fare of Greek and Norse mythology, the Irish tales seemed very exotic. Ireland's stories and heroes possessed a beauty, savagery, and poetry that were magical, as were the names, which I still find a challenge. Central to Irish mythology is the hero, Cuchulain, and I could not ask for a more heroic or human persona on which to base Max McDaniels. In many ways, Cuchulain is the epitome of the tragic hero-he possesses both supernatural power and human foibles and thus makes for a fascinating character study. The myth of the Tain Bo Cualnge, or, The Cattle Raid of Cooley, likewise offered intriguing opportunities to explore heroism and hubris side by side.

The series also incorporates other genres-fantasy, science fiction, and real history-and the mix of these elements will shift from book to book. As a writer, I find the variety energizing as each new volume presents fundamentally new challenges and opportunities. To date, I've fleshed out detailed plans for over half a dozen books-some of which precede The Hound of Rowan by centuries-and I can safely say that no two are alike. I'd find each a joy to write because I'd find each a joy to read. This same mentality is applied to the illustrations.

When it comes to the drawings, I'm of the old school. Each of The Tapestry's illustrations is a piece of original art. There is no PhotoShop-an application that has its uses, but is as pervasive these days as cosmetic surgery. I'd rather have a flawed drawing with a bit of sweat and fingerprints than a super-slick image that lives only on a server. The latter makes me sad. I have tremendous admiration for the work of some earlier illustrators-artists like Sydney Paget, Thomas Nast, and Arthur Rackham. I still pore over their drawings or political cartoons with love and awe and I'm firmly of the belief that the craft hit its zenith in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I try to emulate these old masters, employing the same tools-if not quite the same skills-in the illustration process. The drawings are created with an old-fashioned dip pen, paintbrushes, and washes of India ink applied to hot-pressed watercolor paper. Someday I'd like to work with color, but I don't see that happening within this series.

There you have it-a little glimpse into my background, the stories I tell, and the pictures I make. I hope it's just the beginning and that I will have the opportunity to spend the rest of my life writing books and teaching young people. I can't imagine anything better.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BostonReader on November 28, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm a big fan of the series and eagerly awaited this latest installment. I started it a few days ago and haven't been able to put it down. After the conclusion of the last book which found our hero Max, his friends at Rowan Academy, and the world they inhabit turned upside down by demons seeking to reassert control over our world, Max begins this story rebuilding what was lost. His priorities focus on protecting those he loves while he and his allies work to understand the implications of their new existence. At the same time, Max struggles to balance his impetuous instincts for revenge with the deeper forces of "old magic" within him that have the potential to decisively influence future events if marshaled properly. Unfortunately, Max's enemies also recognize this and choose to provoke him in painful and personal ways that lead Max on a solo journey of discovery, resulting in some highly poignant moments, life-threatening situations, and absolutely epic battles as he seeks to administer his own brand of justice.

As a reader, I have found the time with Max highly personal and complex, but accessible as Max struggles to understand his place in the new world. Should he seek retribution or stay and protect for those closest to him? Should he make sacrifices, against every fiber in his being, to advance a more strategic plan that could ultimately restore the world he knew? Neff has a rich, lyrical, and highly visual writing style pulls you alongside Max as he wrestles with these questions. Those familiar with the series will find that this is a great evolution of the story and characters, and while the book can stand alone, I highly encourage new readers to read at least "The Second Siege" to get the most from this highly engaging series.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By tacoshoes on November 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
What separates "The Tapestry" series--and particularly "Fiend"--from comparable series like "Harry Potter" and the far inferior "Percy Jackson" series, in a word, is ambition. "Fiend" is the most ambitious of the three books to date and puts this series on a scale far beyond that of most fantasy series I have read. The book is a virtual history lesson that presents a vivid and wholly imaginative view of what would happen if history were unraveled and recast, piece by piece, by a demonic yet seductive authority (here the demon Astaroth). Remaking history in order to bend the future course of a society happens to be the precise playbook of every modern dictatorship, and this shows this "fantasy" book's application to our very real world.

The author does not "talk down" to his audience in any of his books by using hip or hackneyed dialogue among his mostly teenage characters, nor is he afraid to get "dark" (see the ending of "The Second Siege"). I believe this too sets Mr. Neff's ambition much higher than the competition. He's writing a series that can appeal to young and old alike, that can hold our interest and endure.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Troxell on December 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read the first book of the Tapestry series, and quite honestly I didn't really think that the book found its footing until it was nearly finished. Book 2 definitely raised the bar and really made me look forward to reading book 3. The Fiend and The Forge definitely establishes the Tapestry series as one that I will continue to follow. Where the first book felt much of the time like a spin-off of Harry Potter, by Fiend and the Forge we are clearly in new territory. Henry Neff does a fantastic job of bringing the world of Rowan and beyond to life, and filling it with interesting characters and adding more and more depth to both the world and the character of Max as the book progresses. It has become an increasingly dark and violent series - I won't be reading it to my young children any time soon - but it definitely is a page-turner. The ending left me wanting more, and the realization that the next book would not be out for at least another two years is painful. I'd highly recommend the Tapestry series by Henry Neff to anyone looking for a new fantasy series to delve into.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DogGeek on November 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Luckily, I didn't have to wait too long to read book 3 as I was a late comer to the series. But what an amazing book The Fiend and The Forge is. As the series matures, so do the story and the characters. Each book in the series has been incredible, but in this installment the story, the character development and the relationships become more sophisticated and complex. This is a very intense, engrossing, frequently frightening read, but like the others you won't be able to put it down and it will take you on an emotional roller coaster. It's interesting how relevant it feels to the world we live in today--eek! These books would make amazing movies as the imagery is so amazing and the creatures Neff conjures are too good not to see come to life. Only two more years until Book 4...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hatch on August 24, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This series has always been unique with familiar characteristics thrown in, such as a school to learn magic; however, this book is where Neff sets the series apart. In the third book, we enter a world completely different, one whose nature is decided by a demon who hails as the Great God. The series tells great lessons about losing lesser battles to win again another day, a message that may come across too negatively to some readers, but one that is well-learned here.

The world Neff creates positively brims with magic, lore, and interesting creatures. You almost cannot go a chapter without being fascinated by a sequence of magic, combat, scenery, or unique beast/demon. Neff is a wordsmith, the human equivalent to a Mystic.

The story starts out very focused and strung together beautifully; however, the fabric of the story seems to fray or thin. Throughout the book, some scenes and sequences felt dull during my first read-through. For example, the farm scene, though it successfully completed its purpose, seemed a little dull and island-ish in the whole of the text, yet Neff hints at further significance from characters met at these point in the series. Speaking of which, the characters are intriguing, with some minor annoyances with some unbelievable or under-explained relationships, but aren't always well-developed. I suppose this may be where Neff struggles, developing his characters. He creates a brilliant character, creature, and world, but there is something left to be desired from characters such as David, who seems to be so matured beyond his years that he has no more room for growth. Characters like Max, who would naturally require development, and even Cooper do receive such attention. In fact, Ronin is also developed in this book.
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