Week one for The Summer Tree covers the Overture through chapter six. The readalong is hosted by, and the first week’s questions come from, Imyril of There’s Always Room for One More.
One, how are you reading along with us? Is this a first time or a reread?
I was able to get a copy from the library, it looks like it was completely submerged in water at some point (so I might try to get a new copy to replace it because it is a little sad). This is my first time reading this. I hadn’t heard of it before this readalong and finding out it was a portal fantasy made me super curious.
Two, the prose style is as distinctive as calling the prologue an overture. How are you finding it?
I’m also reading a Tanith Lee book, Hunting the White Witch, and it is fun comparing the two. On the purple scale, Tanith Lee is higher but Guy Gavriel Kay is higher than other authors still. The Summer Tree does feel mythic, like Tolkien who is clearly influential, and that fits the scale of the world-building. But I’m not sure it works as well with our modern (at least 80’s modern) characters.
Three, what are your first impressions of our travellers? Any you particularly like or dislike?
I don’t feel like I really got to know them before they left. I could only differentiate them after they go through the portal and are interacting with the new environment. We learn about Paul losing Rachel and his struggle, Kevin struggling to help him. We get the story about Kim’s parents. Jennifer, I still don’t really know. I’m willing to be patient though. Clearly there’s a lot going on. Dave had the most personality before we lost him.
Four, what about the characters and politics of Paras Derval?
Diarmuid has a lot of personality. He is giving me Humperdinck vibes so I’m wondering how this is all going to go. He also has a “I’ve been in Spain” moment with the boys after seducing Sharra which did not impress. I really like Sharra though. She’s cool.
The politics of the place do feel like the power struggle that occurs when they know their ruler doesn’t have long. They are shifting into position but can’t really do anything until the High King actually dies. It makes sense for Diarmuid to shore up support but he also has to execute people who wish for him to take the throne soon. It is a rather brutal spot.
Five, would you accept Loren’s invitation? If you did, would you regret it after reading about their reception?
I wouldn’t have accepted the invitation. It was so clear that Loren wasn’t telling the whole story or the stakes. I would have been so skeptical and suspicious. That being said, if my best friends were saying they were going then I would have gone with them because I am the protective mama bear of the crowd.
Six, do you judge Loren for keeping so many secrets from the visitors?
I judge him definitely. But the plot must go on. This does seem to be partially about keeping the reader in the dark too. It’s a frustrating trope but it is very common in fantasy.
Seven, there is a lot of world-building so far! Intriguing or overwhelming? Anything standing out for you?
It is quite intriguing. The Summer Tree itself has me fascinated, especially because there seems to be division about how the royals should be dealing with it. I also found the changing of how the magic works very interesting and despite myself it made me respect Loren more. I am currently a little overwhelmed with how many characters there are and the various lands but I’m not overwhelmed enough to quit. My curiosity is still here.
What are your thoughts?