It all began with a lecture that introduced five university students to a man who would change their lives, a wizard who would 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, five young people discovered who they were truly meant to be. For they are 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 the wrath the Unraveller and his minions of darkness intend to unleash upon the world....
©2001 Guy Gavriel Kay; (P)2009 Penguin
I never pictured the riders as Irish, but it worked! I've read this series several times in print, but it was thoroughly enjoyable to sit back during my commute and have it read to me. None of the vibrancy and depth of Kay's adult fantasy was lost. I'm sure I'll listen to The Summer Tree again in a couple of years!
Simon Vance does a great job of giving each of the many main characters their own unique voice. Kay is my very favorite author, and Vance does justice to his range, from light humor to tragedy to luminous high dramatic prose.
He went far too far with the description if the all-encompassing rape of a main character. This ruins a near perfect series as a recommendation for younger readers, or indeed, those with a great sensitivity towards such things (and we should all have this). He finds, at times, a great deal of truth through and past the experience of pain. The title of the book involves one such episode. But there cannot be justification for the level of horror he details, and the books cannot be recommended because of it. I truly love these books; I once let my self-censor not consider this scene when I gave these as a gift. Be careful if you choose to read them, and thrice careful if you recommend them or give them as a gift. These are beautiful books.
The reader is very good, but choosing an Englishman to read a story with Canadian main characters seems almost a fantasy cliché. That said, he does have a beautiful voice and committed, professional style of reading, even if he can't do a North American accent.
Right up there with Lord of the Rings. This is beautifully written and the story will remain with you long after you've finished.
After listening to Tigana (same author and reader) I liked it so much that I bought this book. However, if you are as well looking for something like Tigana you will be disappointed, as was I. While Tigana had compelling villains, smart and relatable and with goals and purpose, in the summer tree we find a simple black and white world, were there villain is the super bad guy (god in this case) with the only purpose of being evil. It has its legion of orc-like beasts which of course are clearly evil as well so always know who you have to root for. This might be compelling for some, but it wasn't for me (specially after Tigana).
It is not necessarily a bad book, but there is little that compels me to continue this series.
I do not recommend this book if you are looking more books like Tigana.
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