Day 154: The Summer Tree

Cover for The Summer TreeLong ago I read books one and two of Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry but was unable to find the third book. Awhile back, I found copies of all the books and decided to re-read the trilogy. It is going to be very hard for me to divorce my review of The Summer Tree, the first book, from that of the entire trilogy, because my impressions are of the complete trilogy, but I remember thinking that it was the best of the three books.

Five friends attend a lecture by Professor Lorenzo Marcus on the University of Toronto campus. After the lecture, he reveals that he is actually the mage Loren Silvercloak who has come to them from Brennin on another world to ask them to travel there and celebrate the reign of High King Ailell. (Of course, they decide to go.) One of them lets go of the others during the transfer and finds he is separated from the others for much of the action of the novel. On Brennin, it turns out to be the eve of a great battle, during which each of the five find they have their special parts to play.

I had more to say in my notes about my impressions of this book than the plot, which is complicated. I feel that the book, while interesting and beautifully written, is much more immature than the other Kay books I have read. (It is his first.) The strangers coming to save another world idea has been done to death, and the second and third books become even more trite with the introduction of a King Arthur and Queen Guinevere plot, which I find tiresome. The five main characters are relatively uninteresting, and some of the male characters, particularly, are a little juvenile. Finally, the entire trilogy seems dated, particularly in the behavior and attitudes of the characters. My impressions of other Kay books, such as Tigana or The Song for Arbonne, are that they are more rich and subtle.