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The Fionavar Tapestry – Summer Tree by…

The Fionavar Tapestry – Summer Tree (original 1984; edition 1992)

by Guy Gavriel Kay (Author)

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3,294812,491 (3.95)1 / 185
Title:The Fionavar Tapestry – Summer Tree
Authors:Guy Gavriel Kay (Author)
Info:Voyager (1992), Edition: New Ed, 400 pages
Collections:Read 2019, Your library

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The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay (1984)



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English (78)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (81)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
The Fionavar Tapestry was one of the great reads of my high school years. It spoke to me in ways that Tolkien didn't and in a grand style that was very different than, say, George R.R. Martin's. Reading it again as an adult it holds up very well, but not without some problems.

'The Summer Tree', after some mythic foreshadowing, begins with five college students at the University of Toronto attending an after-term lecture by a famous and reclusive expert on Celtic culture. Dave Martyniuk is a loner who is slightly dismayed to see fellow law student Kevin Laine, and his sparkling personality, coming into the crowded lecture hall. With Kevin are Paul Schafer, Jennifer Lowell, and Kimberly Ford. It soon turns out that the lecturer is more than he appears and after some intense eye contact and reception-dodging he reveals that he and his associate are actually from the world of Fionavar - the center of the universe and the bright light that every other world reflects imperfectly. The five of them are invited to the High King's Jubilee and will be returned to their world with no time lost.

Of course the offer is too good to be true and the Five are drawn, one way or another, into the complicated, dangerous, and beautiful world of Fionavar.

Kay's writing is beautiful and he uses many narrative tricks that make the novel seem like a legend from the oral tradition. There is foreshadowing aplenty and myth-lovers will see the roots of many myths from the Nordic, Celtic, and Romantic traditions in these stories. Unfortunately, as you may have already guessed, there is no reference to mythology from other cultures - except maybe a bit of 'Arabian Nights' and the American plains - that can't be found in 'Bulfinch's'. This isn't really a problem until you think that the main conceit of this world is that it is the center of all things, so we're left with the implication that most if not all of the cultures of the Americas, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, India, the South Pacific and-and-and are all reflections or aberrations so imperfect they don't merit a place in main pattern of the Weaver's tapestry. That takes some of the enjoyment out of this 1980s fantasy trilogy.

Obviously, this was not Kay's intention. At worst this is the result of thoughtlessness. I won't blame him for it, especially as later books of his have drawn from a global and deeper historical perspective. I've written a lot and I'm just realizing I should write about the place of women in this universe, which in many ways is far less excusable than the above - next time!

This is a grand adventure story that doesn't flinch from having its characters take part in the darker elements of our folklore. Poor, benighted Jennifer has the worst of it (more on that in 'The Wandering Fire'), but the other characters suffer for a world they barely know and this continues as they become more entrenched in Fionavar. There are many other characters as well, archetypical fantasy types that refuse to be diminished because of their roles. This is a wonderful series and is a great, if flawed, beginning to Kay's mastery of the fantasy genre.

The Fionavar Tapestry

Next: 'The Wandering Fire' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Mar 7, 2019 |
It's sort of funny how Eighties science fiction is pretty near unreadable these days but fantasy written around the same time is actually quite good (both imo, of course!).The Fionavar Tapestry is, on one level, an answer to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it follows most of the tropes of this sort of series. A great threat is hidden away and has been warded by the various races and nations of Fionavar, the Central World of the fifty levels making up Reality. In The Summer Tree, we have the gathering; five young people from our world have been selected to come through to Fionavar to celebrate the High King's fiftieth anniversary on the throne. All have their foibles and in this book some will be pushed to breaking their points. What really marks out this book is the quality of the writing, which is far superior to most books even today and the use of female protagonists was well ahead of its time (though it shouldn't be!). ( )
  JohnFair | Oct 28, 2018 |
The Summer Tree is the first book in Guy Gavriel Kay’s trilogy, The Fionavar Tapestry. I’ve enjoyed Kay’s work in the past, so I’m not at all surprised to be saying how much I enjoyed this. It looks like it's one of his first books and the writing felt a little less polished to me than the others I’ve read, but it still sucked me right in and made me care about the characters and the story.

The book introduces us to five relatively normal men and women in their early twenties who are picked out during an event here on Earth by a mage and dwarf from another world. I’ll leave all the details for the reader to discover, but these people are taken to the world where the mage and the dwarf are from. It was supposed to just be a simple visit, but they get caught up in major epic-fantasy-type events.

There are several traditional fantasy tropes here. The Lord of the Rings clearly had an influence. Also, even though this book was written first, it reminded me of The Wheel of Time in a few ways. There’s maybe a touch too much melodrama, and more than a little angst, and characters becoming surprisingly skilled in minutes with things they have no experience with. But the writing still sucked me in. I enjoyed the friendships and camaraderie, and there’s also some humor and banter mixed in occasionally to break up the tension.

There’s a bit too much head hopping, which is a practice I always find distracting. It’s written clearly enough that I was never confused, but my preference is to stay inside one character’s head per section break. I did like the few scenes where we had the opportunity to see how things played out from one character’s perspective, and then we saw that same scene again from a different perspective.

The book ended with a bit of a cliff hanger, and clearly this is just the first part of a story, but I also felt like a lot of the storylines and character arcs had some decent closure by the end. I felt pretty satisfied with what I was given in this book, but I also started it with the intention of reading the entire trilogy at once. I look forward to jumping straight into the next book! ( )
1 vote YouKneeK | Apr 23, 2018 |
The Summer Tree is traditional epic fantasy. The kind where a small group of people get swept away through a portal into a fantasy land and become heroes and have to save the place from evil. I got lost in this book and couldn't stop reading.

The prose is lyrical and it was a pleasure to read every single sentence... I got lost in it. It was almost like sitting around a camp fire and listening to a poet. Marvellous experience.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves Tolkien and traditional epic fantasy. It does show its age (it's as old as me, eek) but I fell in love with all the characters and can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy. ( )
  Vinjii | Mar 27, 2018 |
I read The Fionavar Tapestry when it first came out and several times since over the years. When I read it is being made into a TV series, I knew it was time to read it again.
Five college students from Toronto are transported by a mage, Loren Silvercloak and his source, Matt Soren, to the city of Paras Derval for the anniversary of the king. Each of the five has a part to play in the events that follow: Dave is lost on the way through the portal and is separated from the rest, Jen is taken, Kevin becomes one of the supporters of Prince Diarmund, Kim is introduced to the Seer of Brennin, and Paul must defeat the deep sadness he owns from the death of the girl he loved.
This is the first of Guy Gavriel Kay's books. It doesn't have the power and depth of some of his later works but is still a fine work of art. His descriptions and world-building are some of the best in the fantasy world, understandable as he worked with Christopher Tolkien in editing his late father's works. Kay's later works delve into mythology set in Spain and the Far East, but the Fionavar Tapestry is very Celtic in tone with elements of British lore and tales.
It is still one of my favorite fantasy works and one that I reread every several years. It's a lovely piece of art set in a world I love. ( )
  N.W.Moors | Jan 25, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Une idée de départ intéressante (cinq étudiants terriens partent dans un monde de fantasy, ce qui permet de s'identifier aux personnages) pour une série qui louche plus ou moins habilement du côté de Tolkien...
Mais tout cela est finalement assez lourd, justement à cause de cette façon de raconter l'histoire de façon dramatique, comme si elle était rapportée bien plus tard sous forme de légendes... Il y a des moments très poétiques, d'autres terrifiants, d'autres drôles, pas mal de bonnes idées, mais les personnages ne parviennent pas à se rendre attachants, et l'histoire, avec son côté "inexorable", semble très pesante par moment
Auteur canadien, Guy Gavriel Kay aime les mythes, la fantasy et l'histoire médiévale. Sa merveilleuse Chanson d'Arbonne en a fait rêver plus d'un avec son mélange de magie et d'amour courtois. Avec cette série, il se lance plus dans la fantasy que dans son pendant historico-merveilleux, avec délice et humour.
Cinq jeunes gens d'une petite ville américaine reçoivent la visite d'un étrange personnage (et même de plusieurs) qui les entraîne dans un monde dont ils n'ont pas la moindre idée, monde de magie et de contes où leur présence est nécessaire à l'avènement d'un nouveau roi. Un par un, nos cinq contemporains se découvrent un destin étrange qui les éloigne encore plus de leur histoire et de leur monde. La tapisserie du monde est complexe, alignant côte à côte des histoires et des univers que tout sépare, que rien ne lie mais qui pourtant s'interpénètrent et se rejoignent par intervalles. Dans cette complexité, les personnalités de nos jeunes gens vont s'affirmer, révélant des traits qu'on n'aurait pu imaginer, leur ouvrant des perspectives inconnues en nous faisant rêver. Les différents peuples de ce monde étrange qui semble être au centre du nôtre, sont attachants et pourtant différents... Une fantasy mythologique et médiévale rare.
added by Ariane65 | editPhenix, Sara DOKE (Mar 1, 1999)

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy Gavriel Kayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Odom, MelCover artistsecondary authorsome 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.
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In the spaces of calm almost lost in what followed, the question of why tended to surface. Why them?
After the war was over, they bound him under the Mountain. (Prologue)
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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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