2008: 95. The Summer Tree

“In the spaces of calm almost lost in what followed, the question of why tended to surface.  Why them?”

The Summer Tree, Guy Gavriel Kay

After reading and enjoying Ysbabel , I learned that a few of the characters had appeared in Kay’s previous Finovar Trilogy. And when people (internet people, but still, people) said that the Fionovar book were excellent, I thought I’d give them a go.  The Summer Tree is the first of the the three.  While it has some things to recommend about it, it is highly unlikely I will finish the series.

It is just too much fantasy for me.  Unlike Ysabel which merged fantastic elements with a real life setting and realistic characters (or as realistic as centuries old archetypes can be), this is straight up old fashioned fantasy.  Get a load of just a few of the characters we run into in The Summer Tree - Diarmuid, Ysanne (“the Dreamer”) Gorlaes, Loren Silvercloak (“a mage”) Ceredur, Na-Brendel, Rakoth Maugrim.  With names like that, you are talking Fantasy with a capital “F.”  And it was just too much for me.  The plot concerns five Canadian graduate students who attend a lecture and end up falling to an alternate world with swords and magic and an evil spirit under a magic mountain, and a king with two warring heirs and a seer and the dark is rising, etc.  The five (well four at first, one gets separated) take this with remarkable aplomb.  I mean, you wouldn’t want to read a book where people were freaking out for the entire thing, but it is not particularly credible that five regular people would just accept what happened so easily.  Plus, their adventures, while well written, are just like every other fantasy novel out there.  This is well done traditional fantasy, no doubt, but it is not my cup of tea.

The good stuff? Kay is a decent writer, particularly of characters - and he shows not tells enough that even I, who have no interest in reading the rest of the series am sort of interested in what happens to our five (I think I might read spoilers on wikipedia!).  If you do like straight up fantasy, I think you might really enjoy Kay’s work.


Date/Place Completed: 6/23/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017