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Summer Tree, The: Book One of the Fionavar Tapestry Paperback – April 1, 2001

219 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Fionavar Tapestry Series

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Editorial Reviews


'I'm not just impressed by THE SUMMER TREE - I'm overwhelmed' Marion Zimmer Bradley 'Engrossingly worthwhile' Asimov's Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine 'A lovingly detailed work ... a classic of the genre' Fantasy Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Series: Fionavar Tapestry (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 383 pages
  • Publisher: Roc; Reprint edition (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451458222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451458223
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 109 people found the following review helpful By david bowers on March 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've read many - at least a thousand, certainly - fantasy books, and The Summer Tree (and the entire trilogy) is simply one of the very best. The 'Fionavar Tapestry' is so painstakingly crafted that it must have been a labor of love (and probably a first book), and I can never understand why I don't hear far more about it.
The language is frequently lyrical, far above the usual standard for fantasy writing; "words more strung with fire", to use one of Kay's own phrases, than any but the likes of, say, Bradbury's. The whole really IS a tapestry; a complex and intricate interweaving of different characters, plot strands, and fantasy elements. And so tightly and carefully woven that it's unbelievable - half a sentence in one book can subtly foreshadow a major event in another book three hundred pages later - yet it's never slow, as I'd expect given all the connections and resonances. You just don't normally find this level of plaited storytelling, even in the endless 300 pound series.
Obviously I was blown away by this trilogy - will probably read it every few years for life - but many of the Amazon reviews were negative and I'd like to address some of the comments. First, a number of the reviewers seemed to be giving Kay low marks mostly because he hadn't written some other book. For instance, some would have preferred a book in which all the characters came from the one world, not some from Fionavar and some from earth. Or some would have preferred a book that was more like Tolkien, or less like Tolkien, etc. I'd say that these are simply valid alternate choices as to the form, and he should be judged on the job he did, not downgraded because he didn't write another book entirely.
A few reviewers thought the plot cliche or even PREDICTABLE.
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58 of 69 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Amos on January 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
...yet surprisingly captivating at the same time. Something about The Summer Tree held a sort of addicting quality and despite every reservation in my mind telling me not to like this book, I found myself quite entertained as I read it. While it is among countless other fantasy novels that follows a Tolkien-style storyline, I thought that it did a better job of it most other such stories that I have read, yet it is certainly not comparable in quality to Kay's later works.

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. It wasn't until after I finished Tigana and thought about it that I realized how great of a book it is. 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 is given the names of our five heroes right from the get go but Kay doesn't feel that it's necessary to really introduce any of them. He goes on about these five as if you should already know them. Soon comes the mage, Loren, who will take them into Fianovar. This part I found laughable, as only one of the characters really seems to question the sense of this mage appearing out of nowhere and taking them to another world. The other four follow Loren blissfully into Fianovar and seem to go on once they get there as if nothing had really happened. Only on a few occasions do these four characters reference their own world, Earth, in comparison to this new fantastic world that they seem to accept so easily.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By MellyH on January 31, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the first Guy Gavriel Kay book I read and at the time I picked it up I was having a hard time finding any fantasy novels I liked (Kept reading Mckinley over and over). This book introduced me to the Fionavar Tapestry that is key to understanding his other books such as Tigana. I have since read the Tapestry trilogy, Tigana and Song for Arbonne. This book is about a group of college students who are taken to a world where each discovers their true identity. In finding that identity, they also learn more about the new world they are now woven into. There is, of course, an impending war, gruesome creatures, deaths, deceptions and deep romance. If you are looking for a new author to read (as I was), I would suggest starting with the Fionavar tapestry and try Kay out! I look forward to and hope to enjoy all his works.
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I consider myself an intellectual reader who can't even stand to look at the pictures on most fantasy books, let alone read them!
Mr. Kay has changed my perception of the fantasy genre and his stories have increased my love for reading!
This book started it all for me with it's story of five college students who attend a lecture which ultimately changes their lives by offering them the opportunity to enter another world, where their personalities and previous life experiences combine with new revelations, ancient history, magical, mythological events and the oldest battle ever waged to give each a sense of their unique purpose and destiny.
Mr. Kay's book does not meander aimlessly down a narrow story path full of cliches, but keeps you constantly guessing, hoping, feeling and experiencing every unique and satisfying moment through the eyes of each well-developed character.
Though this book stands on it's own, you will cheat yourself if you don't read the other two books in the Fionavar Tapestry. I was overjoyed when I realized that this book was just the first of three! I have read the Trilogy four times myself and have loaned the complete set out to many friends of varied personalities and interests. Each one has had only positive comments. I never received one set back!!!
Do yourself a favor and indulge in every one of Mr. Kay's fabulous fantasies! This is just the book to start with!
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Summer Tree, The: Book One of the Fionavar Tapestry
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