I read this over 15 years ago. It may have been a triolgy. May have been a fisher king story. I only remember images.
Somehow the hero is in strange land. Three old women train him. They make him exercise by running for miles carrying a log over his head.
He goes through a gate and through a house to travel between worlds/realities. There is a women with crooked legs looking away. She has a floppy hat covering her face. She begins to turn. Hero is scared. If she looks at him he is dead.
There is also a fat man in a chair.
In the end hero is identified as a bird king (hence my Fisher king guess)?
Any help would be nice. This has been bugging me for years.