The Summer Tree

The Summer Tree

Book - 1984
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The Summer Tree is the first novel of Guy Gavriel Kay's critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Fionavar Tapestry. Five university students embark on a journey of self-discovery when they enter a realm of wizards and warriors, gods and mythical creatures--and good and evil It all began with a lecture that introduced five university students to a man who would change their lives, a wizard who would take them from Earth to the heart of the first of all worlds--Fionavar. And take them Loren Silvercloak did, for his need--the need of Fionavar and all the worlds--was great indeed. And in a marvelous land of men and dwarves, of wizards and gods, five young people discovered who they were truly meant to be. For they are a long-awaited part of the pattern known as the Fionavar Tapestry, and only if they accepted their destiny would the armies of the Light stand any chance of surviving the wrath the Unraveller and his minions of darkness intend to unleash upon the world
Publisher: New York : Arbor House, c1984.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780877957607
Branch Call Number: LPLC870521164856
Characteristics: 323 p. :,ill. ;,22 cm. --


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May 08, 2019

I really, really wanted to like this one as much as most everyone else. I love immersing myself in a rich fantasy world, and even though I was fully prepared for new characters, a new realm and a new magic system, I just couldn't get on board with any of it.
There's a lot to unpack here.
The five main characters are flat, unemotional, and have no growth, and no arc. The are all the same, except the fact that two are girls and three are guys. The only way to tell them apart is by their hyjinks and fates. The dwarf and mage show up in their modern 1980's life and ask them if they want to travel to a different universe and be the saviors of their kingdom. None of them react to this in the slightest- not positive, not negative, just, NOTHING. Like they decided to go on a whim since they weren't doing anything else that weekend. Throughout the novel it's exactly the same. The only time they ever emote at all is when one of them decides to sacrifice themselves, and even then it feels forced. How am I supposed to care about characters that are completely flat and act nothing like an actual person would in that situation?
That brings me to my next point- hardly anything was explained. There was no glossary of terms, no description of the world and how it worked, no explanation of magic, no politics, NOTHING. We are thrown into the deep end and told to just wing it. A few things are eventually explained, like the mages and their sources, and what the seer sees and does, among other things, but it takes a long time for this information to come to the surface. There's no backstory, no rich history. Names are thrown at us like they are important, but they don't stick. There's no way to tell who we're supposed to remember and who is just being tossed at us Tolkien style just for the sake of it.
Then, there's no WHY. Why are these five college kids so important? Why is the prince taking these kids across the river? Why does Kim get the powers of the Seer? Why is the darkness encroaching? What is at stake? Why do I care?
There is a reason why fantasy novels are usually so large they can stop doors- it is because the genre typically demands it. You are creating an entirely new world, with new rules and characters that you want to believe in, root for, and cry with. There's absolutely none of that here.
There are very few good points here, but what IS here is very good. The idea is great- five college kids transported to this fantasy world and each have purpose and a calling. Also, the ending was surprisingly good, and I'm happy I stuck it through to the end. Everything came together very well and there was a decent cliffhanger. It's like if a professional diver tripped and fell off the board, flailed their arms like a Muppet while falling, and then executed a perfect entry into the water. It's rather baffling.
This is my first sojourn with Guy Gavriel Kay, and I was really hoping to find a new favorite. This isn't it. I think I'll go back to Robert Jordan.

mchoate52 Dec 02, 2014

first of a trilogy

Sep 25, 2014

This is an amazing series. This book is a fabulous start of one of the best trilogies ever written - and one of the few that compares well to Tolkien (maybe better in some plot respects). It really deserves to be more widely read and praised.

Sep 11, 2012

This is my favourite series by this author.

Aug 31, 2012

Good classic fantasy by Canadian fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay. This is the first title in a trilogy. I really enjoyed this book despite what I thought was an awkward beginning.

Apr 25, 2012

Hmmm, intriguing way to blend modern day (well 1980s) with university students with a fantasy world and how they enraptured into the Fionavar world and all its characters.

Follow Kevin, Paul, Kim, Jennifer and Dave as they enter a world similar to when kings ruled, but with magic and different folklore. See what adventures await them and see if good triumphs evil.

Meet King Ailell, Prince Diarmuid, Ysanne, Jaelle, Matt and Loren Silvercloak, as well as, a cast other characters along the road in Paras Dervel and beyond. Though be prepared for a cliffhanger that will make you ask what happens next....

Jun 23, 2011

Fabulous start of one of the best trilogies ever written. Deserves to be more widely read and praised. I especially appreciate the references to mythology that permeate the novels. The characters are engaging and the (usual) battle between good and evil is well written. If you like fantasy (and even if you think you don't) read this trilogy.

Jan 31, 2011

I read this trilogy once a year, and every year without fail my heart is broken all over again, I am ensconced in a world all over again, my mood is eventually uplifted all over again. This is high fantasy at its greatest. Kay is a writer nonpareil in this genre and I would highly recommend this to anyone.

Jan 28, 2011

Awesome book. Best of the trilogy.

I'm not one to re-read books but I have read the trilogy twice and I'll read it again. You really feel for the charachters and the sacrifices they take.

I will never forget Paul and the choice he makes in this particular book.... that part is beautifully written.... it will make you cry.

Jan 02, 2009

Let me preface this comment by saying I am not one to read a book more than once. That said, I read Kay's Fionavar Tapetry series (The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire and The Darket Road) for the first time when I was 11, then again when I was 18, again at 25 and again at 33 and I loved it every time. It is a staple on my book shelf and I will read many more times. It is a timeless story with beautiful prose and rich characters and relationships that touch your heart. I wholeheartedly recommend these books at any age.


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DanniOcean Jun 25, 2009

Violence: This title contains Violence.

DanniOcean Jun 25, 2009

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

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Mar 12, 2015

burgundy_llama_12 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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