The Summer Tree (Fionavar Tapestry #1)

The Summer Tree (Fionavar Tapestry #1)

by Guy Gavriel Kay


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451458223
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/10/2001
Series: Fionavar Tapestry Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 138,981
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay is the international bestselling author of numerous fantasy novels including The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, Tigana, The Last Light of the Sun, Under HeavenRiver of Stars, and Children of Earth and Sky. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in the literature of the fantastic, and won the World Fantasy Award for Ysabel in 2008. In 2014 he was named to the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor. His works have been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

Read an Excerpt


After the war was over, they bound him under the Mountain. And so that there might be warning if he moved to escape, they crafted then, with magic and with art, the five wardstones, last creation and the finest of Ginserat. One went south across Saeren to Cathal, one over the mountains to Eridu, another remained with Revor and the Dalrei on the Plain. The fourth wardstone Colon carried home, Conary’s son, now High King in Paras Derval.

The last stone was accepted, though in bitterness of heart, by the broken remnant of the lios alfar. Scarcely a quarter of those who had come to war with Ra-Termaine went back to the Shadowland from the parley at the foot of the Mountain. They carried the stone, and the body of their King—most hated by the Dark, for their name was Light.

From that day on, few men could ever claim to have seen the lios, except perhaps as moving shadows at the edge of a wood, when twilight found a farmer or a carter walking home. For a time it was rumoured among the common folk that every sevenyear a messenger would come by unseen ways to hold converse with the High King in Paras Derval, but as the years swept past, such tales dwindled, as they tend to, into the mist of half-remembered history.

Ages went by in a storm of years. Except in houses of learning, even Conary was just a name, and Ra-Termaine, and forgotten, too, was Revor’s Ride through Daniloth on the night of the red sunset. It had become a song for drunken tavern nights, no more true or less than any other such songs, no more bright.

For there were newer deeds to extol, younger heroes to parade through city streets and palace corridors, to be toasted in their turn by village tavern fires. Alliances shifted, fresh wars were fought to salve old wounds, glittering triumphs assuaged past defeats, High King succeeded High King, some by descent and others by brandished sword. And through it all, through the petty wars and the great ones, the strong leaders and weak, the long green years of peace when the roads were safe and the harvest rich, through it all the Mountain slumbered—for the rituals of the wardstones, though all else changed, were preserved. The stones were watched, the naal fires tended, and there never came the terrible warning of Ginserat’s stones turning from blue to red.

And under the great mountain, Rangat Cloud-Shouldered, in the wind-blasted north, a figure writhed in chains, eaten by hate to the edge of madness, but knowing full well that the wardstones would give warning if he stretched his powers to break free.

Still, he could wait, being outside of time, outside of death. He could brood on his revenge and his memories—for he remembered everything. He could turn the names of his enemies over and over in his mind, as once he had played with the blood-clotted necklace of Ra-Termaine in a taloned hand. But above all he could wait: wait as the cycles of men turned like the wheel of stars, as the very stars shifted pattern under the press of years. There would come a time when the watch slackened, when one of the five guardians would falter. Then could he, in darkest secrecy, exert his strength to summon aid, and there would come a day when Rakoth Maugrim would be free in Fionavar.

And a thousand years passed under the sun and stars of the first of all the worlds . . . .






Chapter 1

In the spaces of calm almost lost in what followed, the question of why tended to surface. Why them? There was an easy answer that had to do with Ysanne beside her lake, but that didn’t really address the deepest question. Kimberly, white-haired, would say when asked that she could sense a glimmered pattern when she looked back, but one need not be a Seer to use hindsight on the warp and weft of the Tapestry, and Kim, in any event, was a special case.

With only the professional faculties still in session, the quadrangles and shaded paths of the University of Toronto campus would normally have been deserted by the beginning of May, particularly on a Friday evening. That the largest of the open spaces was not, served to vindicate the judgement of the organizers of the Second International Celtic Conference. In adapting their timing to suit certain prominent speakers, the conference administrators had run the risk that a good portion of their potential audience would have left for the summer by the time they got under way.

At the brightly lit entrance to Convocation Hall, the besieged security guards might have wished this to be the case. An astonishing crowd of students and academics, bustling like a rock audience with pre-concert excitement, had gathered to hear the man for whom, principally, the late starting date had been arranged. Lorenzo Marcus was speaking and chairing a panel that night in the first public appearance ever for the reclusive genius, and it was going to be standing room only in the august precincts of the domed auditorium.

The guards searched out forbidden tape recorders and waved ticket-holders through with expressions benevolent or inimical, as their natures dictated. Bathed in the bright spill of light and pressed by the milling crowd, they did not see the dark figure that crouched in the shadows of the porch, just beyond the farthest circle of the lights.

For a moment the hidden creature observed the crowd, then it turned, swiftly and quite silently, and slipped around the side of the building. There, where the darkness was almost complete, it looked once over its shoulder and then, with unnatural agility, began to climb hand over hand up the outer wall of Convocation Hall. In a very little while the creature, which had neither ticket nor tape recorder, had come to rest beside a window set high in the dome above the hall. Looking down past the glittering chandeliers, it could see the audience and the stage, brightly lit and far below. Even at this height, and through the heavy glass, the electric murmur of sound in the hall could be heard. The creature, clinging to the arched window, allowed a smile of lean pleasure to flit across its features. Had any of the people in the highest gallery turned just then to admire the windows of the dome, they might have seen it, a dark shape against the night. But no one had any reason to look up, and no one did. On the outside of the dome the creature moved closer against the window pane and composed itself to wait. There was a good chance it would kill later that night. The prospect greatly facilitated patience and brought a certain anticipatory satisfaction, for it had been bred for such a purpose, and most creatures are pleased to do what their nature dictates.

Dave Martyniuk stood like a tall tree in the midst of the crowd that was swirling like leaves through the lobby. He was looking for his brother, and he was increasingly uncomfortable. It didn’t make him feel any better when he saw the stylish figure of Kevin Laine coming through the door with Paul Schafer and two women. Dave was in the process of turning away—he didn’t feel like being patronized just then—when he realized that Laine had seen him.

“Martyniuk! What are you doing here?”

“Hello, Laine. My brother’s on the panel.”

“Vince Martyniuk. Of course,” Kevin said. “He’s a bright man.”

“One in every family,” Dave cracked, somewhat sourly. He saw Paul Schafer give a crooked grin.

Kevin Laine laughed. “At least. But I’m being rude. You know Paul. This is Jennifer Lowell, and Kim Ford, my favorite doctor.”

“Hi,” Dave said, forced to shift his program to shake hands.

“This is Dave Martyniuk, people. He’s the center on our basketball team. Dave’s in third-year law here.”

“In that order?” Kim Ford teased, brushing a lock of brown hair back from her eyes. Dave was trying to think of a response when there was a movement in the crowd around them.

Dave! Sorry I’m late.” It was, finally, Vincent. “I have to get backstage fast. I may not be able to talk to you till tomorrow. Pleased to meet you”—to Kim, though he hadn’t been introduced. Vince bustled off, briefcase in front of him like the prow of a ship cleaving through the crowd.

“Your brother?” Kim Ford asked, somewhat unnecessarily.

“Yeah.” Dave was feeling sour again. Kevin Laine, he saw, had been accosted by some other friends and was evidently being witty.

If he headed back to the law school, Dave thought, he could still do a good three hours on Evidence before the library closed.

“Are you alone here?” Kim Ford asked.

“Yeah, but I—”

“Why don’t you sit with us, then?”

Dave, a little surprised at himself, followed Kim into the hall.

“Her,” the Dwarf said. And pointed directly across the auditorium to where Kimberly Ford was entering with a tall, broad-shouldered man. “She’s the one.

The grey-bearded man beside him nodded slowly. They were standing, half hidden, in the wings of the stage, watching the audience pour in. “I think so,” he said worriedly. “I need five, though, Matt.”

“But only one for the circle. She came with three, and there is a fourth with them now. You have your five.”

“I have five,” the other man said. “Mine, I don’t know. If this were just for Metran’s jubilee stupidity it wouldn’t matter, but—”

“Loren, I know.” The Dwarf’s voice was surprisingly gentle. “But she is the one we were told of. My friend, if I could help you with your dreams . . . .”

“You think me foolish?”

“I know better than that.”

The tall man turned away. His sharp gaze went across the room to where the five people his companion had indicated were sitting. One by one he focused on them, then his eyes locked on Paul Schafer’s face.

Sitting between Jennifer and Dave, Paul was glancing around the hall, only half listening to the chairman’s fulsome introduction of the evening’s keynote speaker, when he was hit by the probe.

The light and sound in the room faded completely. He felt a great darkness. There was a forest, a corridor of whispering trees, shrouded in mist. Starlight in the space above the trees. Somehow he knew that the moon was about to rise, and when it rose . . . .

He was in it. The hall was gone. There was no wind in the darkness, but still the trees were whispering, and it was more than just a sound. The immersion was complete, and within some hidden recess Paul confronted the terrible, haunted eyes of a dog or a wolf. Then the vision fragmented, images whipping past, chaotic, myriad, too fast to hold, except for one: a tall man standing in darkness, and upon his head the great, curved antlers of a stag.

Then it broke: sharp, wildly disorienting. His eyes, scarcely able to focus, swept across the room until they found a tall, grey-bearded man on the side of the stage. A man who spoke briefly to someone next to him, and then walked smiling to the lectern amid thunderous applause.

“Set it up, Matt,” the grey-bearded man had said. “We will take them if we can.”

“He was good, Kim. You were right,” Jennifer Lowell said. They were standing by their seats, waiting for the exiting crowd to thin. Kim Ford was flushed with excitement.

“Wasn’t he?” she asked them all, rhetorically. “What a terrific speaker!”

“Your brother was quite good, I thought,” Paul Schafer said to Dave quietly.

Surprised, Dave grunted noncommittally, then remembered something. “You feeling okay?”

Paul looked blank a moment, then grimaced. “You, too? I’m fine. I just needed a day’s rest. I’m more or less over the mono.” Dave, looking at him, wasn’t so sure. None of his business, though if Schafer wanted to kill himself playing basketball. He’d played a football game with broken ribs once. You survived.

Kim was talking again. “I’d love to meet him, you know.” She looked wistfully at the knot of autograph-seekers surrounding Marcus.

“So would I, actually,” said Paul softly. Kevin shot him a questioning look.

“Dave,” Kim went on, “your brother couldn’t get us into that reception, could he?”

Dave was beginning the obvious reply when a deep voice rode in over him.

“Excuse me, please, for intruding.” A figure little more than four feet tall, with a patch over one eye, had come up beside them. “My name,” he said, in an accent Dave couldn’t place, “is Matt Sören. I am Dr. Marcus’s secretary. I could not help but overhear the young lady’s remark. May I tell you a secret?” He paused. “Dr. Marcus has no desire at all to attend the planned reception. With all respect,” he said, turning to Dave, “to your very learned brother.”

Jennifer saw Kevin Laine begin to turn himself on. Performance time, she thought, and smiled to herself.

Laughing, Kevin took charge. “You want us to spirit him away?”

The Dwarf blinked, then a basso chuckle reverberated in his chest. “You are quick, my friend. Yes, indeed, I think he would enjoy that very much.”

Table of Contents

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The Summer Tree (Fionavar Tapestry #1) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First anyone considering this series, it's fantastic and rates in the top 5 (quite possibly #1) of books I've read in my lifetime. The characters are wonderful and compelling, as is the story. With regard to a few of the comments below saying that Kay took much of his ideas from the LOTR and from Donaldson's Covanant series though...What you are reading (the book in your hands) was a recent reprint published in 2001. The original series was published in 1984 (first book) and finished in 1986. Originally, the Covanant series was published in 1981, but recieved very little press until 1986 when it was reissued. So I'll give it the possiblity that Kay lifted some ideas from it. Given this though...the idea of people from our world travelling to another world was broached at least 30 years earlier by CS Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia, which I think has more similarity to Kay and Donaldson's work than either of them have to each other. I enjoyed Donaldson's work, but I wouldn't say that it's achingly similar Kay's work...even if we discount that one is much more along a single person journey of discovery while the other is more of a fellowship sort of thing. As for the Lord of the Rings. It's not to be surprised to find similarities between Kay's work and Tolkien's. Most fantasy has fallout from Tolkein...he covered much of the territory in fantasy (Lord Foul is very similar to Sauron, just as the Dark One in the Wheel of Time is similar to's hard to escape the theme of a central great evil One). Also, Kay co-edited the Silmarillion in the mid-70's with Christopher Tolkien, so I'm sure some influence leaked in there. On the other hand, Kay draws *very* strongly and obviously from Norse, Celtic and Arthurian myth for many of his gods and characters. Tyr, Fenris, The Lady of Shalot, Odin, Loki all make veiled appearances in the Fionovar Tapestry. This is something Tolkien did too, however to a much lesser (or at least, less obvious) extent. My *personal* opinion though is that incorporation of myth into books often strengthens the story since we have a strong undercurrent of myth in our culture. The incorporation of myth only serves to strengthen our ties with the story because it has a familiarity and undercurrent we are already bound to (classic use of the Heroic Cycle is another big one...starting way back in Greek Tragedy and continuing forever and hugely visible everywhere...including Star Wars).
LyndaMR More than 1 year ago
Ohmygod I LOVED this book. My friend gave it to me to read about 20 years ago and I recently re-read the series. I'd never read any fantasy before this book, and was riveted from the beginning. It's an epic of the fight between good and evil, where four college students are brought to another world and end up having a dramatic effect and partaking in the battle. Each has their own part to play, and are forever changed by the experience. AMAZING!!
GGKCRUSADER More than 1 year ago
LOVE IT! I can't explain the intensity and dramatic feel of this book... the 1st of a perfect series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As most of the other writers have said, this book was wonderful. All the characters, places, things give you such a wonderful feeling. I don't believe that it was a rip off Lord of The Rings. It had so much more, and times so much less. None of the characters in LOTR can even compare to these(although I loved that series also) I can never understand why Guy Gavriel Kay never became a more populare writer. His gift of making you cry when people die, and laugh when people do wonderful deeds is a rare gift. Anyone who reads this series will not be dissapointed!
nycavri More than 1 year ago
Three decades on, still one of the most powerful tales ever written. Kay takes the traditional fantasy setting and weaves a story of identity and inter-personal relationships that steals the reader's breath away. Everyone who reads this masterpiece seems to relate strongly to at least one of the modern-day characters drawn into Fionavar, the first of all worlds.
LWH78 More than 1 year ago
Classic excellent fantasy, writer deserves every penny he can earn, even after all this time. Books are not fruit and do not "spoil". They can lose  their engagement with current culture, unless they are written as well as this one. The classical elements of this fine story remain relevant, the slightly dated points demonstrate the connection to the time it was produced in both our culture and the writers development.I am happy to see it available to new audiences. 
bunnyrabbit1957 More than 1 year ago
full of intrigue and mysteries. highly entertaining. don't miss the other two of this trilogy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, the whole trilogy is fantastic. Tons of fantasy novels claim to rival Tolkien, but Kay lives up to the boast. He mixes real life characters with fantasy and celtic myth to create a trilogy you just can't help but read all the way through!
TadAD on LibraryThing 3 months ago
If you ask me what my favorite epic fantasy book is, it's between this and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien may have a more completely realized world, but he doesn't touch Kay's ability to create characters, or to write--I've reread some of the scenes in this book over and over simply to enjoy the prose.
justine on LibraryThing 3 months ago
My favorite fantasy series. The Celtic-tinged world created here is filled with heroes, magic and myth and best of all modern people thrown into the mix.
oracleofdoom on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I've had this author recommended to me, but I can't remember by whom. When I first started the book I was a little wary. The characters initially came across a little bit, um, flat. But as the story progressed, they became more and more colorful and gained depth. At that point I fell right into it. Immediately upon finishing it I drove out to the book store and picked up the next two.There are things about it that I'd call very classic fantasy. Things that could be seen as very like Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. They have their dwarves, and the lios alfar... well, if those aren't elves by another name, I'll never believe it. And the evil is as evil as evil gets. But if you enjoy good old-fashioned epic fantasy, I think this is an excellent read. And unlike SOME epic fantasy authors (Goodkind and Jordan, I'm looking at YOU!), this author doesn't get overly wordy and drag the series out indefinitely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rereading this series for the first time after almost 25 years. I was afraid I might have become too hard for this book to move me the way it did when I first read it. I am happy to report that it is just as thrilling, just as moving, and possibly even more deeply resonant since I am reading it through the prism of a quarter century of life filled with joys, struggles, and heartaches. Can't wait to move on to The Wandering Fire.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very highly recommended to me. However, I found that it was mildly enjoyable if you were in the right mood, and that was about it. The characters were far too perfect. I couldn't really relate to any of them. There was also too much history and not enough plot development. The main highlight was the style in which it was written. Some sections seemed liked the author was trying too hard, but others were really truly beautiful. In short, I think Kay should have been a poet, not a novelist.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most of you probably don't know that the Fionovar Tapestry series is pretty old. I first read it about twenty years ago, around 1985 or so. I'm glad that it's been reprinted/updated/whatever, because it was one of the first fantasy series I'd ever read and it stuck in my head all this time. I'm eager to re-read it and see if it's as good as I remembered.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was with great eagerness and anticipation that I picked up The Summer Tree. Kay as an author had been highly recommended to me and I had enjoyed Tigana very much. But when I began reading I was shocked. The ideas were good but I found the manner in which they were put forth was confusing at best. I got the feeling that Kay was trying too hard. Trying to hard to make the story fascinating but giving you as little information as possible, trying too hard to make the characters real but giving them too many issues. I felt so in the dark about the entire thing that it was difficult to enjoy. All the elements of Fionavar that could easily have been explained for the reader's benefit(there were five characters from earth that could have been the vehicles for those explainations), he spoke of only vaguely. The result is that I'm left will a million questions (which will of course keep me reading the trilogy) but little satisfaction.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Fionavar Tapestry is one of the best books I have ever read.Kay has a gift of writing his books so well you get a picture in your head of the whole story.kay's way of getting you attached to his characters is amazing.When I finished this series I was yearning for more.I don't understand why Kay isn't well known.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This trilogy is some of the best fantasy I've ever read, and I've read a lot! Large in scope, with wonderful characters that you will fall in love with. It's good to see this series back in print again. If you're a fan of Epic Fantasy, do yourself a favor and by these books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kay has to be one of the most real writers I have read. His characters have a depth that others authors can only hint at. Why he is not more well known and popular I shall never understand, more people should read his works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book along, with the rest of the series, is the best fiction I have read in a long time,if you like Fantasy at all you will love this book, if you can afford it buy all three you won't regret it. If you want to talk about these type of books feel free to e-mail me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not quite done with this book, but already it ranks up with the works of Jordan and JRT.