The Fionavar Tapestry

by Guy Gavriel Kay

4.75 avg rating
229 votes 7 comments
The Summer Tree is the first novel of Guy Gavriel Kay’s critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Fionavar Tapestry. Five university students embark on a journey of self-discovery when they enter a realm of wizards and warriors, gods and mythical creatures--and good and evil…

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…

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Dalagooroo | 2013-05-16 06:36:03
The series sits in my bookshelves bought as each one came out as a trade paperback so many moons ago. I loved it as a teenager - cried at the end. Just reread it to see how it had travelled. Still cried at the end. GGK is a fantasy legend and his latest book River of Stars continues a career writing strong characters
Anonymous | 2013-05-18 08:16:34
I thought it was awful .. couldn't get past the summer tree. The characterisation was awful. I'd go as far as saying it was the worst fantasy book ive read.
A Huge Fan | 2013-06-26 03:35:36
GGK is one of the best historical fantasy novelists of his time. The Fionavar Tapestry is not really in that genre, but it is still one of my favourite fantasy trilogies. Knowing a bit about Celtic history would help understand the different 'characters' in the storyline, but it is not imperative. ALL of his books are well written,complex and entertaining -- Under Heaven especially is a must read.
Anonymous | 2013-07-26 05:28:21
My first and possibly favorite series.
Anonymous | 2013-10-06 06:02:04
This series is without doubt one of the best I've ever read. The story moves along at a nice pace and it is fun watching the characters grow. Everything doesn't come up roses but you feel satisfied and good after completing it. Kay is very good at tying up the loose ends which many authors neglect to do. It is a lot of fun watching the story unfold and there are many surprises along the way. There are scenes that really tug at your heart strings but also one graphic scene that I could do without. I understand some of the criticisms but on a much smaller scale than they are presented in. strongly recommend you read this very enjoyable series
Anonymous | 2013-10-07 10:10:22
So well written. A great read. Don't overlook this one.
Anonymous | 2016-08-15 06:40:53
I warn you now, there are spoilers in this review. The Fionavar Tapestry is a work of sublime beauty. I am a lover of great prose, poetic prose, elegant prose; and that is why I love such works as The Lord of the Rings and Ursula K. le Guin's Earthsea series. Tolkien and le Guin were fantasy's greatest stylists, and in this series, Kay shows that he, too, is worthy to be included in such company. My first experience with the Tapestry was through the audiobooks, read by Simon Vance, a British actor who, though his character voices are a bit lacking, reads Kay's prose with the most perfect intonation. There is poetry in Kay's words, poetry that comes out in Vance's reading, and listening to it, I fell in love with the work. Yes, in the most basic of novelistic techniques (plotting and characterization, mostly) it has flaws, but given that it is Kay's first original work (he began his career by helping Christopher Tolkien compile and edit the Silmarillion into a publishable form), he can be forgiven a few missteps. They do not greatly detract from the story, and in my estimation, Kay's art with words, in this series, surpasses all his other works. Much of the tragedy in the series is communicated in the sound of the words, in the rhythm he uses. I find it more pleasurable than even the prose of Virginia Woolf, whom le Guin herself called the most subtle stylist in the English language. The books are written in the tradition of the Lord of the Rings, in that Kay's aim, at the time he wrote them, was to prove that the matter of Tolkien could be used in a high and artistic fashion. This aim was born out of the prevalence of fantasy that was no more than Tolkien-clones without any of the deeper meaning inherent in Tolkien's works. I think he succeeds in his goal. Like Tolkien, he has a great facility with names (fitting, since he worked on the Silmarillion); each one fits exactly. The same with his prose: much of the story reads as an elegy, with reminders of golden days long past and great deeds still remembered whose actors live on in story. Like the Lord of the Rings, the elves (here called the lios alfar, "most hated by the dark, for their name was Light," literally light-elves) in this story have the choice to leave Fionavar (read: Middle-Earth) for a world of the Weaver's making (read: Valinor), but whereas in the Lord of the Rings the voyage represents Frodo's death as well as his salvation and reward, here the voyage is woven with tragedy. Indeed, the whole series is filled with tragedy, and pathos seems to be the overriding tone or quality of the story, though it is not without its eucatastrophes, as Tolkien termed it. There were moments in the books that moved me to tears: Paul on the Summer Tree, Diarmuid and the Urgach, Finn meeting his destiny, Darien and his choice. I say this because I am not given to being moved to tears. They were truly powerful, moving moments, and the trilogy is filled with others, all of which I remember with fondness. This series is, along with the original Earthsea Trilogy, one of my favorite works of fantasy. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is indeed a great, if flawed, work of art. It has passion, both in the author's composition of the series and within the story itself. It is moving, powerful, full of heroes and villains, tragedy and eucatastrophe, beauty, and is altogether a compelling read. You are missing out if you have not read it.
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