Carson Kicklighter's Reviews > The Summer Tree

The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
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's review
Jun 22, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy-sci-fi

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 where people drink ale and eat meat, cheese and bread. You are out of luck if you want to know what the clowns are doing, what goods the peddlers are selling, or what sets the taverns apart from every other tavern you have seen in fantasy novels.

The kids seem to have personalities only when convenient for the plot. They get to Fionavar and have little reaction to traveling across dimensions except to joke about the balconies outside their rooms. Since the main characters weren't that impressed by their journey, I wasn't either. And since they didn't feel like real people, I couldn't care about them.

The blandness is partly a result of wordiness. A creature "allowed a smile of lean pleasure to flit across its features," instead of "smirked." Later, we are told that a "realization hit with the force of apprehended truth," instead of... well, I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. In general, I thought there were a lot of words that didn't mean much.

I feel like I'm missing something, since Kay is a renowned fantasy author whom other people have recommended to me. Hopefully I'll feel a better connection with one of his other books.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 22, 2011 – Shelved
October 11, 2014 – Shelved as: fantasy-sci-fi

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