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The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
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The Summer Tree (1984)

by Guy Gavriel Kay

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Fionavar Tapestry (1)

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2,793662,091 (3.98)1 / 141

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English (63)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
This is a long-time favourite, and remains a great read. Kay deftly weaves together Celtic mythology and traditional (esp Tolkien) fantasy tropes in a bid to create his own epic cross-over fantasy (cheekily claiming that it is the First world that all others come from as a nice narrative touch to explain the wholesale borrowing).

Five students from Toronto are taken to the world of Fionavar by a mage to observe the High King's 50th anniversary. But shadows have already gathered: an unnatural drought plagues the land; the King's eldest son has been banished for daring to ask to be the traditional sacrifice to the God; the svart alfar are abroad once more; and the politics that brought Ailell to the throne 50 years ago may be about to bring him down. The 5 foreigners find themselves at the heart of events that will shake every world - including their own. Lyrical, sentimental, and mythic in scope, if less polished than his stand-alone works. ( )
  imyril | Jul 7, 2014 |
I read about half this book, just couldn't get into it. I didn't find the characters interesting, or memorable, couldn't work out who was who and basically couldn't be bothered to make the effort. ( )
  earthsinger | Jun 6, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I absolutely loved everything about Guy Gavriel Kay’s stand-alone novels [b:Tigana|104089|Tigana (10th Anniversary Edition)|Guy Gavriel Kay|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1241516828s/104089.jpg|1907200] and [b:A Song for Arbonne|104085|A Song for Arbonne|Guy Gavriel Kay|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171506608s/104085.jpg|2498881], so it was with great excitement that I downloaded the newly released audio version of The Summer Tree, the first novel in his famous The Fionavar Tapestry.

In The Summer Tree we meet Loren Silvercloak, a wizard who has traveled from the world of Fionavar to Toronto to fetch five university students (three guys and two girls) who are needed to help fight an ancient evil force that has been bound under a mountain for centuries. It is awakening, has adversely affected the weather, and threatens the future of Fionavar. The students are transported to the capital city of Caer Paravel — no wait, wrong book — Paras Derval and each discovers that (s)he has an important role to play in this strange land’s upcoming upheaval.

If I had read The Summer Tree when it was first published in 1984, perhaps I would have enjoyed it more. Or at least I would have been more forgiving back then, but at this point in my life, with many years of reading fantasy epics behind me, I just had a hard time mustering up much enthusiasm for this story.

Besides the parallels to Tolkien and Lewis which you will have already noticed, we’ve got dwarves who live under mountains, elf-like creatures who live in the forests, names which require hyphens, apostrophes, or other funny symbols (Na-Brendel , Mörnir, Ra-Termaine, T’Varen), names of evil things which sound Russian (Rakoth, Starkadh, svart alfar, Rangat, Blöd, Khath Meigol, urgach), nasty creatures who are minions of the bad guy, a girl who finds out she’s the next seer, a hero who must sacrifice himself to save the blighted land…. etc. Much of it is derived from ancient myth and legend and it's presented in Kay’s eloquent and slightly overwrought style. This will likely please those who are looking for that sort of weighty epic, but to me it just felt heavy. I have no doubt that this is caused by reading this too late in my fantasy vita — I was looking for something new — so if you're not relating to me here, I encourage you to give The Summer Tree a try. Every fantasy fan should read Guy Gavriel Kay.

Kay’s use of the five modern-day characters is a bit perplexing. Their reactions to being brought to a parallel world with an ancient culture were unconvincing as they immediately adapt to the customs of Fionavar without much trepidation or wonder. They didn’t seem concerned about how or when they’d get back to their world, what their family and friends might be thinking, or what might happen if they (very likely) died in Fionavar. They never talk about modern conveniences like cars, guns, and telephones. They go along with the patriarchic culture and, though they are well-educated, they don’t use their modern knowledge to any advantage. Perhaps they will in the sequels, but there is so far no indication that they are thinking that way, which baffles me. I’m wondering why Kay used modern-day heroes at all.

As for the audio production, it’s produced by Penguin Audio and read by Simon Vance (one of my favorites) so it’s well told. However, Vance’s Canadian accent makes me cringe and, since our five heroes are all Canadian, that’s a lot of cringing.

I expected to love The Summer Tree, so I had purchased the second book in The Fionavar Tapestry, too, and I will probably read it at some point. But I greatly prefer Guy Gavriel Kay’s more recent fiction, which is really wonderful stuff. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
This is a classic of the fantasy genre that wallowed in my to-read pile for several years. I found it highly readable once it got going, but events at the end have discouraged me from reading onward.

At the start, I found the book rather confusing with five Canadian young adults to keep straight, plus the visitors from Fionavar. As this book was written in the 1980s, it tended to head-hop a lot and that made it even more confusing. Once they landed in Fionavar, however, it became much easier to follow, though the sheer number of mythologies that overlap in the book made it daunting at times. Still, it was fun and fascinating.

This is very much a "getting ready for the quest" book. The five from Earth each go through terrible ordeals as they mature, come into their powers, and confront this new world as it falls into turmoil. The ordeal with Jennifer at the very end turned me completely off. I just don't like books that go there as a plot device. ( )
1 vote ladycato | Jan 20, 2014 |
2.5
Empecé este libro dos veces: la primera vez no me logró atrapar y lo dejé. Años más tarde lo retomé y me forcé a seguirlo leyendo. Creo que eso es bastante gráfico.

La historia no es demasiado original (aunque eso no sería ningún problema): son humanos de este mundo que viajan en contra de su voluntad a otra dimensión/mundo semi- mágico (Fionavar) y tienen que salvarlo. Y obviamente todo es parte de una profecía. No está mal hasta acá.

Hay algunos personajes que me gustaron como Matt y Jaelle, pero los protagonistas (en especial Paul) me resultaron llanamente antipáticos. Pasan de no tener personalidad a ponerse títulos rimbombantes que todos aceptan porque sí, de sentir amor a una indiferencia total por los demás, y se comunican con unos diálogos antinaturales en situaciones bastante forzadas.
Hay muchas descripciones muy largas que pretenden ser poéticas, situaciones importantes que pasan demasiado rápido y exceso de detalle en cosas que interesan bastante poco.

Me costó terminarlo. Mucho. Y saber que por delante había dos libros más no me hizo precisamente feliz. ( )
  outlanders22 | Sep 21, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy Gavriel Kayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Springett, MartinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Summer Tree is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Tania Pollock Birstein, whose gravestone reads, "Beautiful, Loving, Loved," and who was all of these things.
First words
In the spaces of calm almost lost in what followed, the question of why tended to surface. Why them?
En los períodos de calma casi borrados por lo que después siguió, la pregunta "¿por qué?" emergía a la superficie. ¿Por qué a ellos?
After the war was over, they bound him under the Mountain. (Prologue)
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Book description
It all began with a lecture that introduced five university students to a man who would change their lives, a wizard who could 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 - and of the Unraveller and his minions of Darkness - Kimberly, Dave, Jennifer, Kevin, and Paul discovered who they were truly meant to be. For the five were 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 when the Unraveller unleashed his wrath upon the world.
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Five university students are whisked from Toronto to an alternate world where they must help to battle a great evil.

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