Book 1 of 3 The Fionavar Tapestry
This is a reread for me, the reason being that we are reading the series at ffseries starting with book 2 as we read the first one in fantasy favorites. So in preparation I thought I might as well skim over this one so I’d know what I was talking about.
When I first read The Summer Tree I wasn’t all that impressed, thought it was quite standard fantasy, and, when compared to other books by GGK, disappointing. I’m glad to say that after my rereading I’d have to disagree with my earlier self.
Yes, there are quite a lot of the standard fantasy cliches; light and dark, a band of inexperienced possible-hero types, older magic figures, kings, maps, and a creature of pure evil. And it was probably these that threw my on my last reading, I wasn’;t expecting this form of fantasy, so I didn’t really look past the surface.
Underneath the standard fantasy elements GGK’;s writing shines through. His characters sometimes act, or feel, a little too much a little too soon, but overall they are fantasticly written. From the outsider Dave who is “too quick to renounce friendship” to Paul who is still recovering from the loss of his girlfriend.
Another possible reason I didn’t enjoy it first time round is the fact that five characters (Paul, Kevin, Jennifer, Kimberly and Dave) travel from our Earth to Fionavar. Usually the traveling to another magical world is done simply so the author will have a person as clueless as the reader who can ask the questions why, how, where etc. And there is a slight element of that here, but there is also another reason behind it.
The Summer Tree is an example of High Fantasy that rises above its own clichés, and is well worth a read.