My Lukewarm Relationship With Classic Fantasy


Yesterday I sat down The Summer Tree with annoyance on my counter. This was probably the fifth time I’ve done this since I started reading the book. But the reason for it probably isn’t what you’d expect. I’ve been attempting to read this book at a sluggish pace for the better part of two months now (it’s definitely slowing down my reading challenge) and keep running into moments where I have to just sit it down and just take a break from it; and I’ve been wondering why.

I feel like I’ve had this feeling before.

The premise of The Summer Tree is of a group of university students who find themselves transported from Earth to a fantastical place of sorcery, fiefdom, and the primal forces of Gods and evil (called Fionavar). Their college professor, Loren Silvercloak, a denizen of Fionavar, has bigger plans for them than just term papers and homework; and the nature of their participation (and their necessity) becomes better known the deeper into the series you go (it’s a trilogy). On paper, this sounds very fascinating and the world that they are thrust into that we, the readers, learn more about is also interesting. But something about the pacing and the way that it’s written continues to not sit right with me.

Things like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings have immersive worlds that have helped to shape so much of what most people consider fantasy in the first place. This idea of elves, dark armies with creatures most foul, and an epic quest between friends are all checkmarks on the most basic of fantasy novel tropes. At least it’s that way now due to the literary groundwork that was made decades ago. But some of these earlier stories haven’t always captured my attention. In fact, I tried to read The Fellowship of the Ring six years ago and couldn’t even make it through a quarter of the book. Something about it just wasn’t connecting with me. So much so that I haven’t tried again since.

I know this is heresy in the Fantasy community to not be able to stomach some of the classics but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have immense appreciation for it. The characters, the aesthetics, the system of magic, and even the timeline of how the world vastly changes are all incredibly fascinating. But that hasn’t translated into the delivery of the written word for me. But who knows how I would feel reading it now?

My sensibilities have definitely evolved since I was younger with what I appreciate and consume versus what I don’t reading wise. My troubles making it through this first book in The Summer Tree is making me question if I could go back and attempt to read some of those long lauded ‘classics’ of the fantasy genre. I’m just now hitting the halfway mark and hope that the pace kicks up pretty soon to ensure my continued reading of the series in general but we will see.

I continue to dream of dragons, magic, and epic swordplay. That won’t change. But as I get older, it does seem like my patience for dense and verbose wording in novels just for the sake of it grows shorter. But I will continue trying.

Until next time.


Author: Mr. Nifty

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