GGK Book Club: THE SUMMER TREE, ch 5-8

The Summer Tree, Guy Gavriel Kay

The Summer Tree, Guy Gavriel Kay
The Summer Tree, Guy Gavriel Kay
Guys, I have totally not re-read the next four chapters. #embarrassed to death

However, just because I haven’t re-read them lately is no reason for other people to have to wait on discussing them, so I’m going to open up the comments (ideally on the mizkit.com site) for discussion for those of you who ARE keeping up. Spoil away, since I have, after all, *read* them, if not for some time. :)

I should, I hope, be back on track next week, but I’m doing revisions on a book that’s due tomorrow and my editor just asked me to have the copy edits for SHAMAN RISES in by Monday so realistically I’m not going to be reading anything for the next few days.

Ready steady go! :)

5 Comments


  1. Apologies in advance, because this is going to be rather rambly.

    So, like I said last time, it’s been so long since my previous reading of the books that while I ultimately remember what happens to most of the major characters, I’ve completely forgotten pretty much all of what happens between. That having been said, there’s a *lot* that goes on in Chapters 5-8, and I think the best way for me to approach it is to go character by character.

    Paul: So much happening to Paul here. The scenes with him, Ailell, and Brendel are very poignant. Chapter 4 and the beginning of Chapter 5 seem to set up Ailell as the senile old king who’s lived too long, but there’s a nice turnaround delivered here. Ailell’s body may be failing, but his mind is still sharp, but I think there’s the argument about how he may have tried to hold on to life for too long, which resonates with Paul. Then after the escapades with Kevin and Diarmuid’s band, Paul ultimately gets the reminder of why he doesn’t and figures that there’s a way he can die that will ultimately save a lot of people. I’m not 100% sure if the gray dog is a specific mythological reference (it’s probably something I’m just not recalling) but its appearance is a signal to the rest of the land that Things Are Getting Real.

    Kevin: Kevin is easygoing, and he wants people to like him, and so hanging out with Diarmuid’s Band (of Bros) makes sense to him. But he’s genuinely concerned about his friends, for good reasons. I think he wants to do more to help them but just isn’t sure how (in Paul’s case) or ends up in a less helpful position than he was hoping (the search for Dave). So he ends up not necessarily making things worse, but not being able to achieve his ends.

    Kim: I am amused by Kim’s “but I’m only going to be here for two weeks!” freakout after Ysanne gives her the History of Everything courtesy of Eilathen. Sure, she can just help from back home. Sure she can. Also, interesting bit about how prophecy seems to run in her family, though I’d like to know more about her family in the present day.

    Jennifer: Poor Jennifer. Her friends are elsewhere and she just wants to get out and see some of this world she’s been transported to, and it ends in catastrophe. The parts with Jaelle are interesting; Jennifer understands the political situation she’s in and decides she wants no part of it, but Jaelle gets the last shot. Then she meets Brendel and his band, and things seem fantastic (singing! food! wondrous tales!) until everything goes horribly, terribly wrong. And that’s just the start…

    Other observations:
    * Interesting that the constellations are the same as on Earth, though it makes sense if Fionavar is the first of all worlds and thus all others are a reflection of it.
    * Diarmuid, you’re not exactly charming me. That act you pulled with Sharra did not seem entirely consensual.
    * Finn! I remember him! I forgot about the setup for future events in this book.
    * I suspect I might know who The Warrior is based on what happens in future books, but we’ll see if my suspicions are correct.
    * Not entirely sure what’s up with Tyrth. Is he Aileron? Ysanne’s dwelling is not terribly far to go if you’ve been exiled, though she’s reasonably isolated.


  2. Apologies; I’ve been sick for most of the last week.

    How much would it suck to spend your day in the limelight in a strange world wracked with a hangover? I am wincing in sympathy for Kevin even whilst I shake my head at how one would get in that state.

    I really love what Kay does with Aillel. I’m sold that if this story had happened twenty or thirty, maybe even ten years earlier, it could have been an entirely different ballgame.

    Unfortunately, Jaelle seems more angry than politically savvy, going for sound and fury which don’t seem to have much effect on the other characters. Maybe they’re to sway the masses of courtiers, but I don’t think those are even mentioned until Ysanne upstages Jaelle without even trying. Once she enters, Ysanne doesn’t say another word, and when she leaves, the scene ends. However, we then are treated to the chess scene, which is great.

    For once, the quick sketch works for me – in a few words I get the picture of a land blighted by drought; more detail than I’ve gotten on most things so far.

    The scenes as Kimberly comes into her power seem to sort of carry her along with the force of a current. Ysanne plays a pretty good old taoist in that, while she’s borne along by events herself, she’s capable of taking actions to try to direct the course – at least to a degree.

    Sharra though – now there’s a POV character who speaks to me (the first of two in this book). This lady has class, and I really wanted her to tie Diarmuid in knots. Alas, he has planned the encounter, and he maintains the initiative throughout, constantly throwing her off her game. I doubt anyone other than her father has allowed to do that since she was a child, so it’s not really something she’s prepared for.

    On a side note, it’s a single day’s ride between Paras Derval and the Saeren Gorge, which puts some scale on the map; at a rough 35 miles for the ride, the Plain is about 140 x 100 miles square, which if the medication isn’t mucking me up too much puts it at about half the size of Ireland, and it’s about 230 miles from Paras Derval to Mount Rangat, which is about half that of Berlin to Paris.

    Jennifer comes into her own at this point, and we get more of her wit set against the court harpies and against Jaelle. There’s an interesting bit where she gets Jaelle to name her guest-friend, and the latter has apparently scored a point of some kind, but I don’t believe it’s ever elucidated. (My guess is that, if you’re the king’s guest-friend, getting someone else’s welcome is like setting them above the king… but that’s mere supposition.) Again, however, Jaelle comes across with way too much iron fist and no velvet glove of which to speak. We haven’t seen enough of the land overall, I think, to know whether she’s very successful and is thus entirely unused to being balked in any way, or if her power doesn’t extend much beyond her own organization, but it seems as though, while the Goddess runs deep through the people’s psyche, Her Priestess doesn’t share the same wellspring.

    The scene with Avaia is the only one I remembered from having read this book the first time, and it’s no wonder; we get a departure from brief descriptions here, and her full majesty and horror are on display. She also has a very pretty name, and it sounds horrible, but I’m hoping we’ll see more of her.


  3. It was great to read Kate & Jacks comments on 5-8 – I fell behind and so caught up with 5-12 in one go! The plot moves on at a faster pace than I remember with events coming thick and fast.
    I’m with Kate, Diamurid is not coming across well but more of a manipulative character with each encounter with a woman being to add another notch on his bed post!
    I was pleased to see Dave coming back into the story – an outsider even within his own family in our world but finding his place in Fionavar.
    Paul sacrifice and redemption on the Summer tree added depth to his character. His relationship with Rachel and his subsequent reaction was not what you initially may have thought – definitely a darker side to his character.
    Jennifer abduction and subsequent storyline is a difficult read for me but I will persevere.
    I am still getting the hang of this review / book club thing. It all sounds great in my head but when I write it down it doesn’t quite seem to gel! Anyway this has given me the impetus to re-read a series I loved 20 years ago – and I find I still love it now!


  4. Chapters 9-12!

    So, the not exactly a war yet council, in which Jaelle tries to exert more power she has and just comes off looking selfish and inconsiderate, and Ailell is stalling for reasons he doesn’t want to come right out and say until Loren takes care of it for him. I feel bad for Kevin – yes, Jennifer and Paul are having it much, much worse right now, but I still feel bad for him.

    Rakoth Maugrim sure knows how to make an entrance. What caused him to tip his hand, since apparently he’d been free for a while, wardstone status nonwithstanding? Paul on the Tree? Jennifer?

    I really, really love the interactions between Kim and Aileron, particularly Kim’s sense of humor. Humor is a good way to keep from being completely overwhelmed!

    Paul and Rachel. Since this is from Paul’s perspective, Rachel does not really come off well here, I think. I wonder how this relationship would play out today, with texting and cell phones and video chat. (I’m old enough to remember when we didn’t have all these things, but I’m wondering if people will read this in the future and wonder why he only called her twice a week.) A relationship is a hard thing to balance, especially when one person thinks distance is a good thing and the other sees it as running away when they need support. I am glad, though, that Paul gets closure and divine forgiveness.

    And now, after all this darkness, it’s back to Dave for some less solemn fare. I really love the descriptions of the Dalrei, their way of life and their stories. And the dancing! I’d completely forgotten about that, and it’s wonderful. I cannot blame Dave for projecting himself into the Third Tribe, given what we know of his relationship with his father and brother.

    Ivor is great, as is Tabor and Torc and Levon and Liane and Leith. Really, I am fond of all the characters in this arc.

    When Dave encounters Ceinwen, he could have technically argued that he wasn’t a man of Fionavar and thus not subject to her sentence. (He’s studying to be a lawyer. He totally could have.) But his respect and awe win out, and I admire that. Also love Ceinwen’s response that Liane has choices that don’t involve a specific man.


  5. I’m going to copy/paste my Chapters 9-12 comments to the new entry. They can be deleted from this one if desired.

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