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Book Review: Finishing What I Started – The Summer Tree

Better late than never, I suppose.

The Summer Tree has plagued me for the better part of five months. An embarrassingly long time, given my track record for finishing books fairly quickly. But like I had written previously, the first half of the book was a slog. You’re IMMEDIATELY thrown into the life of several college students in Canada, who you don’t have any background on; and with no attachment whatsoever to them, I feel nothing when they realize that their lives are in danger. All of this information is revealed to the students just as vaguely and quickly as the reader turning the pages and you’re left just knowing that they’re needed as guests of the high king in the far off land of Fionavar. Though the real reason why isn’t revealed until later.

But I felt completely different upon finishing the book.

I don’t retract my previous statement about classic fantasy sometimes being a bit too overtly pomp and circumstance at its worst. However, when you have a chance to take a breath and inhabit the world a bit more methodically with enough time to get individual context for the different characters, you get invested. Past the halfway mark of this book, you begin to realize that everyone has specific roles intertwined within the destiny of the land; and none of them feel shoehorned in purely for the sake of it.

But what surprised me the most, especially towards the end, was the darker tone the book began to inhabit. The betrayal of a trusted dwarf and his role in the releasing of Rakoth Maugrim, the series’ demonic antagonist, ratcheted up the stakes of the story. This was due to his twisted pleasure in ruining the lives of those around him. This included a quite lengthy set of events with the captured character named Jennifer. I was blindsided by believing that the lead characters would still be able to emerge from their adventure unscathed. I was EXTREMELY wrong. But part of that may be my own bias. Needless to say, I will be reading the second and third books as my curiosity has now been peaked. I still wasn’t blown away with the story but the narrative won me over.

My attempt at the 2017 Reading Challenge crashed and burned after less than half of the prompted book choices. I plan on coming back strong in 2018 with another challenge, however. This time I’ll make my own rules and they’ll be a bit more forgiving of my day-to-day schedule. But more on that at the top of the year.

Until next time.

*Featured image from Goodreads

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