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Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry #1)

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  14,743 ratings  ·  779 reviews
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
Paperback, 20th Anniversary Edition, 305 pages
Published 2004 by HarperPerennialCanada (first published 1984)
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mark monday
this is a wonderful novel. it is hard to love at first. sometimes you get to know people who seem automatically awkward, whose social style is stilted, composed of quotes from movies or off-putting attempts to be clever, insisting on repeating tired tales, who seem eager to please yet incapable of easy connection. but you get to know them over time and those trappings fall away, the awkwardness fades and they become real, three-dimensional, a friend even. and so it is with The Summer Tree.

at fir
Aug 29, 2014 Kay rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: they're taking the hobbits to isengard-gard-gard-gard
The first thought I had when I read the description was, "Gawd, not again *groaning moaning*". I've read attempted to read enough Tolkien wannabes with elves, orcs, and swords, and had enough.

Then, I read extremely favorable reviews on GR about this book. It piqued my curiosity. Wait, what? This is how Tolkien should be written??

What the...

Frankly, upon finishing this book, I'm inclined to agree with the favorable critics. This is very much like LotR, so much that I can see many fans either lov
(This will serve as my review of the entire Fionovar Tapestry- Spoiler pearl clutchers beware- there be dragons of plot and theme reveals here!)

Confession: I am a bit of a Requiem fanatic- I own several versions of the Verdi, the Mozart, the Brahms, and copies of the Cherubini, Berlioz, Dvorak, and Benjamin Britten Requiems and I am always looking for more. I am fascinated with each and every one of them personally, but when it comes time to try and explain my obsession to someone else, I always
This "portal" fantasy from the early 1980s has more than a little bit of Tolkien, a dash of Donaldson, and a lot of excellent writing. Sure, it is an old school fantasy with many of the recycled elements from "The Silmarillion" and "The Lord of the Rings", but that is not a detriment here at all, mainly due to Mr. Kay's fabulous storytelling ability. Because from a rather slow start, the characters begin to come to life even as the story crystallizes into something hauntingly beautiful.

No doubt,
Five Canadian college students are transported to a magical kingdom, and all of them are pretty blasé about it. Their lack of reaction cued me in pretty early on that I wasn’t going to like this book. None of these characters felt like real people to me; the students are pretty interchangeable (one’s a bit crankier! one has guilt! two possess vaginas!) and they all completely lack one of the most important things, in my opinion, for a successful fantasy novel: a sense of wonder. Nothing about th ...more
May 02, 2011 Sparrow rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grown-up Narnia fans
Recommended to Sparrow by: Kay
Shelves: reviewed
Part I of this story is in many ways a grown-up The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I read the Narnia stories when I was little, and to be honest, I think C.S. Lewis will always have a place in my heart. To me, he’s a sort of philosophical grandpa, whom I ignore when he’s spouting cultural faux pas, but who brings out something lovely and profound at least as often as he says something unfortunate. Anyway, this book is not about C.S. Lewis, but I think the affection I feel for Narnia made a dif ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I'm going to start my review of this book with some, at least slightly negative comments, so...before I do so let me say that I liked the book pretty well and am giving it 4 stars (I'd probably go 3.5+ if I had that option, but I don't).

I tried to read this book (these books as it's a trilogy) some years ago and was, shall we say, far from enamored with them. I put The Summer Tree down as not worth my time and didn't go back to it. Recently I've seen some reviews by people whom I've agreed with
This book has been on my to-read list for a long time. I've read other Kay (and loved it all), but for some reason I just kept putting this one off. Every time I decided it was time to jump in, I'd read the blurb and decide to go with something else. "Five men and women find themselves flung into the magical land of Fionavar, First of all Worlds." Yeah.. About that.. The whole magically transported into a fantasy world thing? Thanks but no thanks. It just doesn't do it for me.

So needless to say,
Sep 13, 2008 Mark rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: fantasy
The Review

I generally don't write a review for a book unless I finish it. I don't think it's fair to the author or to others interested in the book.

I didn't finish this book.

However, I did spend a significant amount of time on this book, so I think I do have the right to say something.

Wow. This book beat me. I don't know if was the method in which I read the book or if I just didn't have the mindset to do so, but I just didn't like it.

Reading became a chore and something that I didn't look
Nostalgia read, sparked by a bookclub desire to read the series. What can I say?

I first read this not long after the series came out (1984 for the first one). I was in my early teens, and there wasn’t much fantasy that felt inclusive of females, stories told in a lush world of sweeping scope. You know how desperate my thirteen year-old self was? Two words: Thomas Covenant. Kay was a refreshing summer breeze, and the writing–oh, the writing! It remained shiny in my memory, musical and strong enou
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I absolutely loved everything about Guy Gavriel Kay’s stand-alone novels Tigana and A Song for Arbonne, 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 a
Fresh from reading most of Tolkien's work, and writing a gigantic essay on it too, I have a different perspective on Kay's work. Especially when reminded that Kay worked on The Silmarillion with Christopher Tolkien. He has a lot in common with Tolkien, really: the synthesis of a new mythology (though not done as history, and therefore lacking all the little authenticating details that Tolkien put in) using elements of an old one (though Kay used Celtic and Norse mythology, and goodness knows wha ...more
5.0 stars. I just finished re-reading this book and was blown away by it. This is intelligent High Fantasy at its best. Gay Gavriel Kay is an incredible writer and his world building as fantastic. It is hard to be original in this well-worn genre, but Kay pulls it off and makes his characters and the world-setting unique and fresh.

Highly recommended!!!
I am so glad I came to Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry late because I doubt I ever would have read his great books if I had read these first.

I was acting in a play with my great friend Jefferson when he suggested I read A Song For Arbonne. I was blown away. He told me to read Tigana. I loved Brandon and was in love with Kay. He told me to read The Lions of Al-Rassan, which I've read numerous times since, and I had found my favourite Kay. He told me to avoid the trilogy, though, because he knew I wo
Oct 25, 2007 Josh rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die hard fans of the author
Shelves: fantasy
My first introduction to Kay was the stand-alone novel, Tigana. It took me a while to really get into Tigana, but I really started to appreciate Kay's eloquent style, fleshed out characters and whit in dialogue and plot development. I decided that before going on to read the rest of his works, I had better read Fianovar. I didn't quite find the same reading experience here.

While the characters in Tigana are well thought and believable, those in the Summer Tree are quite the opposite. The reader
Epic fantasy. Five Canadians go across to another world, where an ancient evil is rising again.

Okay, I have to admit, this took a while. It's been a bit since I read srs bzness epic fantasy, and this is about as srs bzness (and earnest) as they get. It's all portentous droughts and visions making the seer's hair turn white and "And thus it came to pass that . . ." and so forth. Takes some getting used to again. That, and the way the characters just get shoved back and forth across the epic fanta
Carson Kicklighter
I wasn't able to finish this novel because I found it bland and awkwardly written.

Five kids from the University of Toronto follow a wizard and a dwarf to the magical world of Fionavar, where the king is decrepit, a drought is persisting, and an ancient evil is about to break loose. There's little in the world to set it apart from any other traditional fantasy realm or D&D campaign setting. There's a castle celebration where clowns perform and peddlers sell "colorful goods'; there are taverns
Having found Kay's Tigana overly cluttered and too much for a single novel, it was with trepidation I sat down to read The Summer Tree. Would it be better, would it be worse or would it be the same? Only the conjunction of my mind and eyes with the paper pages of the book would reveal. I was not let down by the contents of this book, overall. However I felt that were some elements of the text better handled this book could have earned a five star rating instead of the four stars I gave it.

The pl

This was my first book by Kay and I've been hearing for years how wonderful a writer he is. I agree.

I must admit to being a bit skeptical when I first started reading the story but as I kept reading, the story and in particular the writing drew me in.

The premise reminded me a lot of Chronicles of Narnia in that some younger people are transported to a fantasy world of elves and dwarves and magic and a battle of good versus evil ensues. Somewhat tired and cliche, right? But Kay somehow pulls it
This is the first novel I read by Kay, and I am not disappointed. He's got a new fan.

Since this is the first in a continuing trilogy, I don't feel I can review it in depth as the story isn't over.

I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Characters and settings were well defined and I've made some new friends in Fionavar.

I'm patiently awaiting delivery of the rest of the series; once I've read all three novels I will be able to do justice to the series in the form of a review.
Mar 30, 2014 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: SciFi & Fantasy Book Club June 2011 Fantasy Selection
I was 16 when I first read the Fionavar Tapestry. My boyfriend and I had just gone through what would be the first of many breakups. I'd argued with my family about the breakup. My three best friends were all leaving, and I would only see one of them again in the decade to come. While on holiday with them in the Netherlands I was thrown from my seat on a bus and injured my spine, which left me bedridden and unable to attend the goodbyes. I was, in short, as miserable as only a heartbroken 16-yea ...more
When I started laughing at the pompous language in the opening pages, I should probably have guessed how this book was going to go. Absurd names, complicated awkward sentences, all written in an overserious tone that reminded me of a B Movie, without the fun. I thought it would be a fun read at least, a bit of page-turning fantasy that would hook me into a series. I also wanted to see if scenes played out in the beginning of the book would make sense by the end. (view spoiler) ...more
May 05, 2007 Steve rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Tolkien imitators
Shelves: fantasy
Being a fan of Guy Gavriel Kay on the basis some of his other works (particularly The Sarantine Mosaic and Tigana, books which I find to be among the best in the fantasy genre), I was incredibly excited to read this, his first novel. I have never been a fan of the "person/people from our world drawn into a fantasy world" type of story; however, I felt that if there was one author who could do it right, it would be Guy Gavriel Kay. Alas, the Kay writing The Summer Tree displays none of the depth ...more
Doc Opp
After a slow start, the book delivered what all the critical acclaim was about. Deep characters, elegant prose, creative and unique concepts that blend nicely with familiar mythology to be thought provoking. This is a masterful piece of epic fantasy. Not for beginners to the genre though, the complexity of the novel would lose people who didn't have a strong schema of what to expect from epic fantasy.

One of the best parts of the book was how the author uses foreshadowing to create suspense. Oft
Meredith Enos
Sep 15, 2007 Meredith Enos rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
everyone says this is a LOTR rip off, but i personally can't stand the narrative style of LOTR. every five years or i try to read LOTR and i just can't. i get maybe 100 pages in, if i'm being extra patient, and then chuck the whole endeavor. and truly, an endeavor is what it feels like: long and arduous. the whole thing is so damn wordy, and there are way too many 3-page hobbit songs. sorry if that offends all the tolkien lovers.

the Fionavar Tapestry is much more accessible. the narrative is lyr
Maggie K
I think it was ok! lol

There is a story in here...but it's filled with too many characters, draws on too many pantheons, has some seriously chauvinistic behavior, and just generally becomes kind of trite.

So, a magicical guy from another world and his dwarf friend are in Toronto pretending to be a famous lecturer, and take 5 college students, almost at random, back to their world with them. Why 5 random college students would just do that kind of puzzled me, but okay.

Once they get to fantasyworld,
I've posted a general review of the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy before, here, but I never felt that quite cut it. So this a review of the first book, The Summer Tree, and separate reviews of the rest of the trilogy will follow. It's worth looking at my overview of the trilogy, too, because I'm not going to repeat all of it, necessarily.

Firstly, the trilogy does seem very derivative, mostly of Tolkien, although me and my mother once went through spotting myriads of possible influences. There are gr
Why isn't this book more well known? For months I have been reading positive recommendations for this author but before joining I'd never heard of him. And these aren't books I would've picked up for myself. But this is one of the best fantasies I have read. And the one that comes the closest to Tolkien. Actually has an old world feel to it. The land and history have a realness. The characters are likable and memorable. Unique and beautiful.
Five Canadian students are thrown into the magical land Fionavar threatened by a god. Each one shows heroism in different ways.

It feels like a template mashup of Silmarillion, Zelazny's Amber series and Wheel of Time (I know, the last one was written later) and there are people discarding it as a copy-over. But wait!

Silmarillion: mythopoeic style with all the short introductions of names, hints and titbits of ancient history and landscape descriptions. Kay helped Christopher Tolkien with editing
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Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction. Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid. Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy, though the author himself has expressed a preference to shy away from genre categoriz ...more
More about Guy Gavriel Kay...

Other Books in the Series

The Fionavar Tapestry (3 books)
  • The Wandering Fire (The Fionavar Tapestry, #2)
  • The Darkest Road (The Fionavar Tapestry, #3)

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“There are kinds of action, for good or ill, that lie so far outside the boundaries of normal behavior that they force us, in acknowledging that they have occurred, to restructure our own understanding of reality. We have to make room for them.” 52 likes
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