The Summer Tree


Author: Kay, Guy Gavriel

Title: The Summer Tree

Genre: High Fantasy

Publication Date: 1984

Number of Pages: 323

Geographical Setting: Mythical World of Fionavar

Time Period: Indeterminate

Series: The Fionavar Tapestry

Plot Summary: Five earthbound university students (Kimberly, Dave, Jennifer, Kevin, and Paul) are approached by the mysterious Loren Silvercloak, a mage from the realm of Fionavar, to accompany him on a short visit to his realm for an anniversary celebration for the High King of Brennin (two weeks in Fionavar equals a few hours on Earth).  However, this “short visit” turns out to be an epic quest for them all; they have gotten much more than they bargained for in a world full of dwarfs, ancient Gods, seers, exiled princes, and talking animals.  The relaxed pace of the story gradually builds in intensity, as a great evil, stirring in the depths of Mount Rangat, breaks its chains of imprisonment, seeking revenge on its enemies—the forces of good in Fionavar.  This intricately plotted, character-driven tale of self-discovery takes readers on a journey to another world, and is sure to please anyone looking to escape into the magical unknown.

Subject Headings: Fantasy stories, College students—Fiction, Time travel—Fiction, Wizards—Fiction, Fionavar (Imaginary Place)—Fiction, Arthurian legend, Coming of age stories, Stories of self-discovery, Quest stories

Appeal: Relaxed pace, atmospheric, magical, reflective, detailed characters, engaging, flawed characters, character-driven, intricately plotted, imaginative, mythic, detailed setting, timeless, descriptive language, lyrical

3 terms that best describe this book: character-driven, imaginative, intricately plotted

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Finding Merlin: The Truth Behind the Legend of the Great Arthurian Mage—Adam Ardrey (quest aspects, magicians, mystical beliefs)

Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends—Avram Davidson (fits well into the fantasy genre, covers the origins of mythical characters, imaginative subject matter)

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: The Newly Updated and Expanded Classic—Alberto Manguel & Gianni Guadalupi ( a tool to discover other books of interest, contains a descriptive entry about Fionavar and its story, good way to immerse the reader in the landscape aspect of the genre)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Lord of the Rings (series)—J.R.R. Tolkien (elements of good versus evil, coming of age story, high fantasy)

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time series)—Robert Jordan (ordinary characters face extraordinary challenges, magical/mythical characters, quest adventures)

Lord of the Changing Winds (Griffin Mage Trilogy)—Rachel Neumeier (strong female character reminiscent of Kim Ford, relaxed pace, world-building, lyrical)

-Jessica Bartz



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