The Summer Tree is the first book in the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay.
Set in both our world and another, the book is split into a multiple narration is it follows five individuals who travel from Earth to another land through the aid of a mage and a dwarf – who just happens to be the source of his power in a union of magic that goes back in time.
Once they have travelled across, the five – Paul, Kevin, Dave, Jennifer and Kimberley – each must face their own destinies as they realise they are more than they first thought. Paul battles with a deep grief that can only be overcome by completing the impossible. Kevin and Dave both find their places with new groups of friends and Kim begins to understand that she is so much more than a normal girl – she is, in fact, a Seer. Events soon mean that she is the last Seer of that world and her part is only just beginning to be played. Meanwhile, Jennifer must face an evil so severe there is no telling whether she will survive the events of the book or not.
The book follows all of them, plus the characters of Loren (the mage) and Matt (his source) as events spiral out of control. A great evil – one supposedly defeated hundreds of years before – is beginning to rise and attacks are growing more frequent and more deadly, affecting everyone in this new land. The five must find their places and learn to play their parts if there is going to be any chance at confronting the evil. However, as this is just the first book, there is no telling what the result is going to be.
Initially, the book takes some getting into because the switch between so many characters makes it hard to really understand their motivations and work out how the reader feels about them. The chapters are divided between their different stories and are therefore very long, meaning there were times of being lost of who you were with and where in the book you were.
There are times, because of this, that it does feel like information is being repeated, but this doesn’t occur often enough to make it into a problem.
However, once the characters become established, they develop and grow at a steady pace – believable reactions for the situations they are placed in and yet a hidden strength emerging that makes the reader know they have the potential for so much more. This show of strength in impossible situations also makes the reader’s route for their favourites and want them to overcome their situation, even if the odds are pitied against them.
An intriguing and gripping start to the trilogy. With magic and mystical creatures, goddesses and old legends, the first book has pretty much everything it needs to make it a traditional tale. The story works hard to draw the reader in but once they have been swept up in the story, there is no getting away from the eagerness to read more.