The Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry, #1)
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The Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry #1)

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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  10,841 ratings  ·  596 reviews
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...more
Audiobook
Published August 1st 2009 by Penguin Audio (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...more
Kay
Aug 19, 2012 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...more
Kelly
(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...more
Wendell Adams
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,...more
Sparrow
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
Dawn
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,...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...more
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...more
Nikki
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
Mark
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 f...more
Trin
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
Stephen
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!!!
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
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...more
Lightreads
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...more
Brandon
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...more
Jonathan
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...more
Josh
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...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...more
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...more
Jackie
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.
Jon
Mar 30, 2014 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: SciFi & Fantasy Book Club June 2011 Fantasy Selection
Brahm
May 05, 2007 Brahm 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
Traci
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.
Andreas
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...more
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,...more
Kara
Jul 21, 2011 Kara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: fantasy lovers
Recommended to Kara by: Janny Wurts among others
Audiobook. Simon Vance as narrator -> who does an amazing job.
Finished this the other night and moved right on to The Wandering Fire.

My first Guy Gavriel Kay, and I will say he writes BEAUTIFULLY. Very artistic and thoughtful prose, yet NOT flowery fluff, poetic dribble, or writing to hear oneself talk.

This is probably some of the best high fantasy out there. Storyline is good, and the characters are all strong, well developed, and likable. It has been especially interesting to me to follow...more
Brad
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...more
Kerry
I've been wanting to read this again for so long, but I never was quite brave enough to do it. I had seen people who read it after reading later Kay, being unimpressed and I loved it so that I didn't want to risk that.

Finally, I had indeed read it again. And I loved it all over again. So much so that while I was planning to read something else after finishing it, I have moved immediately on to The Wandering Fire.

I can see why people who know Kay by his later works don't know quite what to make o...more
Nikki
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...more
Maya
Feb 06, 2012 Maya rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: fans of high / epic fantasy a la Tolkien
Shelves: series-ongoing
3,5 stars? 3 seems not quite enough, while 4 seems a bit too much =/

This is how you make a classic “tolkien-esque” high / epic fantasy story interesting.

It did take some time for me to get into (the beginning was basically “hey you chosen-ones. We need you in this fantasy world, you coming? Ok, let's go”) and I didn't get very much attached to the characters (there are plenty, and lots with their own agenda), but I enjoyed their journey(s).

The setting is detailed, full of imagination, but with s...more
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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...
Tigana The Lions of Al-Rassan The Darkest Road (The Fionavar Tapestry, #3) The Wandering Fire (The Fionavar Tapestry, #2) A Song for Arbonne

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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.” 44 likes
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