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

3.9 out of 5 stars 231 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Fionavar Tapestry Series

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Editorial Reviews

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.

About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay is an internationally bestselling author. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in the literature of the fantastic, is a two-time winner of the Aurora Award, and won the 2008 World Fantasy Award for Ysabel. His works have been translated into twenty-five languages.
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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 (231 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Guy Gavriel Kay (and this series) has been on my mind lately. These are the first of his books that I read, and I read them on the recommendation of my husband (then-boyfriend). Which memory maketh me happy. He'd read them years before and guessed (rightly) that I would love them, too. When I went to the bookstore to pick up the first book, the red trade paperback had just been released. I snatched it up and stroked the cover. It has one of those buttery matte covers that catch ever so softly on your fingertips and make it impossible to stop stroking them. Ahem. It had been a little while since I'd ready any true high fantasy, and it was good to be back again. Though this series does have a bit of the urban fantasy about it to begin with. The main characters are all university students from Toronto. And I liked the fresh combination of segueing from one to the other. THE SUMMER TREE was originally published in 1984 and was Guy Gavriel Kay's first book. It is the first in the Fionavar Tapestry (I've always loved that series title), which is a trilogy. They are very visceral, very Tolkeinesque in scope, and should most definitely be read in order.

Kim, Jennifer, Paul, Dave, and Kevin are friends. They attend the same college in Toronto. And, on one extremely fateful night, they attend the same lecture by a renowned professor. Dr. Marcus even invites them back to his home after the lecture, and that is approximately where things begin to run off the rails. It turns out Dr. Marcus is in fact a mage from another world known as Fionavar. Fionavar is the original world, Dr. Marcus (or rather Loren Silvercloak) informs them, upon which all other worlds (including Earth) are based.
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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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