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I read The Summer Tree (and the rest of the Fionovar Tapestry) many years ago and absolutely loved it. Consequently, I was a little apprehensive about the audio version - worried that the story might not live up to my fond memories, or that the narration might not match my vision of the characters. My apprehension was unfounded on both counts. I really enjoyed listening to the story unfold - a bit like visiting an old friend and being made to feel totally at ease. Simon Vance is a wonderful narrator - and I particularly liked the way he used regional British accents for the races/characters in the stories. It felt right. This is a 'Tolkienesque' style fantasy series - a bit 'Fairy Tale', with its mythology and classic fantasy components (dwarves, mages, elf type creatures, horse-riders etc). Some suspension of belief is required - of course! There is nothing ground-breaking here, so don't expect to have your mind blown by an innovative story. In my opinion, however, it is really well written and has an interesting plot and characters; that's what makes it special. The Summer Tree is perhaps 'the slowest' of the trilogy. The Wandering Fire has more action and I found the end of the series (The Darkest Road) particularly moving. But then - I am a big softy. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a good old classic Fantasy romp.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
I first read The Summer Tree in the early 80's and have loved it ever since. At a time when fantasy literature was just becoming popular most books were either Tolkien rip offs or D&D clones, and often part of very predictable ongoing series. Kay, draws his inspiration from mythology, and although we find orcs (Svarts) elves (Lios Alfar) dwarves and other fantasy staples they are not the usual flat stereotypes. Kay brings a language style reminiscent of the Morte D'Arthur and weaves a magical tale that set a new standard for fantasy at the time.
Simon Vance is a great performer and brings the characters to life. Initially the accents and character voices felt strange, but only because I've read the book so many times and have my own versions in my head. I've yet to hear a bad reading from him.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I would have given this one 3.5 stars if I had been able to, but please don't take me wrong. I love this series and found the narration here to add significantly to my enjoyment. Many characters are introduced in this, the first book of the Fionavar Tapestry. Simon Vance gives us a clean and easy to follow interpretation of the, possibly too many, different regional groups that we meet herein.
If you like books that delve in to character development, Kay very rarely disappoints. Additionally, the world he creates is different enough to be fantasy without being so strange that it becomes completely ridiculous. Here, not only do we get a world that becomes the setting for the story, but a glimpse of things to come and an interweaving of that world's legends with our own.
In true Kay fashion, we are introduced to so many different characters and groups that is can become confusing. The narration, giving each of these characters and groups a unique voice, should go a long way to saving this one for those who haven't read it in print. Also, and true to many a first-of-trilogy tomes, a great deal of this book is spent introducing us to people, concepts, lore and mythology of the world within the story. This can make it feel a bit long at times, mostly because we don't yet know why much of it is important.
If you can read this with the understanding that it is the first book of three, it is a wonderful introduction to story and character. However, without reading the "rest" of the story, this book does fall a bit short of being able to stand on its own merit.
I do believe that this trilogy is worth reading and that the story and characters become more compelling with each successive book. I also think that you need to go in to this one with the understanding that it is the first 1/3 of a story and so much of it is spent giving us enough knowledge to follow and enjoy the second and third books.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
I read this series a great many years ago and remembered the books with fondness. Therefore, I was very happy to experience them again in audio. I think they may have been best in the reading however. Guy Gavriel Kay writes quite poetically, with a lot of high-flown language. On audio, it comes across a a bit over the top.
Don't get me wrong: there are still the characters you get very attached to and the heroic story that brings to mind Greek, Celtic and religious mythology and the best of Tolkien. "The Summer Tree" is rich with lots of psychological and mythological undertones, yet it is firmly grounded by the Canadians who travel from our world to Fionavar. And I love the references to the woven tapestries that make up each of our personal stories and our collective ones
If you enjoy poetic, heroic sagas with a lot of drama, you will enjoy "The Summer Tree."
7 of 7 people found this review helpful