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Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic


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Currently reading

Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding
Steven K. Green
Progress: 67/328 pages
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Sandra Kitt
Progress: 34 %
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Nancy MacLean
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Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward
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Linda Hilton
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Linda Hilton
Progress: 61/61 pages
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer
The House of the Spirits
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Reading progress update: I've read 244 out of 383 pages.

The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay

I'll post all the previous update links later.  I'm taking a break for lunch and it's a good time to catch up on the commentary.


I didn't read much last night, but I hit a major transition point that once again dragged me completely out of the story.  It made me a Reader again, rather than an observer of the actions as they happen.


What I was reminded of, interestingly enough, was the movie version of Practical Magic.


Sisters Sally and Gillian Owens are witches.  Their aunts are witches.  Sally's daughters are witches.  They do real magic.  They know they are different from "normal" people, and they know there are risks if they let "normal" people see them doing magic.  So when Detective Gary Hallett witnesses them doing magic, he knows something strange is going on. He's "normal," and what he sees is not normal.  He's aware of the difference.


In The Summer Tree, there's lots of magic, beginning with the transport of the "normal" earth humans to the world of Fionavar.  But they're never amazed.  They never have a sense of wonder. They're never curious about anything.


They never have a sense of fear.


The transition that takes place at approximately the two-thirds point in The Summer Tree is three-fold.



First, Paul -- one of the earth humans -- dies, sort of.  I haven't got to the point of figuring out whether he really dies and is dead, dies but is resurrected, or doesn't really die but is somehow transformed.


Second, the big evil monster who has been securely imprisoned under a mountain -- this seems to be a common trope, copied from Tolkien and then copied forward in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time -- for a thousand years has somehow managed to break free and is bent of total destruction of everything.  There were magic wards that were supposed to keep him imprisoned, but no word yet on why they stopped working.


Third, another earth human has entered the cast.  This one really irritated me because he was supposed to transport with the others but didn't.  He's been "lost in translation," I guess for at least several days.  At least several days, that is, in Fionavar time.  So when he finally does complete his journey, is it still the same day the others arrived, or is it in fact several days later?  How is this going to be explained, or is it?  Why is he not surprised by anything??? And why does he arrive already knowing a bunch of stuff about Fionavar? 

(show spoiler)


At this point the scene shifts to another locale in Fionavar, but without any real explanation.  Yes, that's becoming a theme.  I guess as a reader I'm just supposed to accept all this on faith, but that's not how I have ever read fantasy.  And I've been reading High Fantasy since Lord of the Rings was first published in paperback in the late 1960s.  This is not my first merry-go-round.


This is also a point at which a whole bunch more places and people and . . . things? . . . are brought into the narrative, with new words that have no context for understanding.  Are the animals being herded somewhat akin to cattle?  to horses?  to sheep? to deer?  Or are they something unique (and magical) to Fionavar?


By the way, at 244 pages into this book, I still have no idea what svarts are, other than some icky, deadly animal. Are they like wolves? No, probably not, since there are also wolves and they are apparently bigger and more ferocious than svarts.  Are they cat-like? Badgers? Wolverines? Lizards?  I don't know and it's making me not like this book.