We are in the third week of this readalong, and I am finally (FINALLY) brain deep in this story. Yeah, I formed certain opinions a little too soon…
Deep breath. Let’s discuss The Summer Tree.
This week we’re taking the questions from Ariana at Book Nook Reviews, and there is so very much I want to get into here so let’s get cracking!
We’ve seen some extreme behaviour – we learn that Galadan wants to unravel the world because it witnessed his rejection. Ysanne’s sacrifice takes her out of the Tapestry entirely. What were your reactions to these and other character motivations?
Galadan: Well this fella doesn’t have entitled male ‘victim’ written all over him at all, does he? And that’s an interesting point in the question – is he on this vengeance bender because he was rejected or is it in fact the part where everyone knows about it that’s got his knickers in a twist? And yes, if it seems like I’m belittling all of his obvious anger and pain, it’s because I am. I just am. He is every online random guy ever to me, at least right now. He may be legitimately dangerous, but honestly. Come on, man. Let it go.
Ysanne: … I did not see that coming. Like, not even a little bit. I went from wondering what sort of effect Ysanne was going to have on this story to being smacked in the face by her effect on this story. Wow.
Also, I do not envy Kim right now. Yikes, that’s a hell of a thing to wake up to. LITERALLY.
I feel like I’m still processing a lot of what happens to Ysanne and to Kim in these chapters, but that’s a good thing! As a reader you want to be left thinking about characters and their actions and the things that befall them after the fact, and … yeah. Wow.
And speaking of sacrifice, Paul has spent his final night on the Summer Tree and all his defences have been stripped. How are you feeling towards Paul now and what do you think might happen to him next?
Excellent question – I am not entirely sure we’ve seen the last of him. Or at least, I kind of hope we haven’t! That said, if he has now been written out it was a hell of a way to go. And I don’t say that to be flippant – these chapters hit me even harder than last week’s did, and learning the full depth of Paul’s true feelings and why, exactly, he felt that way was a real gut punch. But I am glad that he was able to feel the weight of that guilt lifted from him, in the end. On one hand, no one should go on to whatever comes next for them carrying a weight like that. On the other hand, with Paul now free of his earthly burdens I can speculate (pretty wildly, let’s be real) about how he might present should he return in some other form.
Gandalf the White, anyone?
Alongside (or because of?) Paul’s time on the Summer Tree, some cosmic forces seem to be moving in Fionavar again. Last week we talked about prophecy, but how do you feel about the role of deities and mythology in the book?
I am very firmly of the belief that in the event of a deity appearing in a fantasy story, we should not immediately understand what their goal is. Which is why I’m chewing on this part of the story so much, because it seems on the surface as though this is sort of a straight up, old fashioned good versus evil thing. But have these godlike beings played their part and retreated to observe, or will there be future interference? One, I’m good with. The other … depends on the nature of the interference, I guess. I’d prefer less deus ex machina, more Doctor Strange’s “one in fourteen million” situation. If they know how this is going to shake out but won’t stick their oar in before/unless the time is right, fair enough. Free will and all. If they don’t know and are limited in what they can do … that’s also pretty interesting, to be honest. I don’t know if I believe in gods, but I know I don’t believe in flawlessness…
We have (officially) met the banished prince Aileron! Impressions? And does his presence and return to court give us any further insight into the politics of Brennin?
Another twist I didn’t see coming! And I’m fascinated as heck by it, not so much for what this means for Aileron’s “destined path” or whatever – that is whatever it is. I’m much more fascinated by the relationship that seems to be forming between Aileron and Kim. She sussed him out pretty darned quick, and didn’t waste any time letting him know it – and I am living for that sort of intelligence! Also, the emotional intelligence these two seem to share and have bonded over is exactly the kind of thing I fall hook, line and sinker for. It will definitely make their future journey together very interesting!
At last, Dave has returned to grace the pages! His absence has caused much speculation, but how do you feel about him now that we know what he’s been up to?
Oh, I like him so much more than I initially thought I would. It’s deeply interesting to see all the ways in which this group’s paths have diverged, and I feel like Dave is on the most interesting one. I noted very quickly that while the others all seem to have easily accepted that Fionavar is their life now, Dave is also adapting very quickly but his dilemma feels a bit more real. I also feel like there was maybe a lot missing in his Earthly life for him to feel so immediately at home with the Dalrei…?
Also. ALSO. I know this is An Epic Fantasy By A Man and so it’s unlikely to happen, but I cannot be the only one who looked at Dave and Torc during any interaction at all and Got Ideas. Right? I mean. Come on. Someone get gay up in here already.