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02 February 2014 @ 08:51 pm
GGK Book Club: THE SUMMER TREE, ch 13-16  

Dammit, I knew I was going to be bad at this, which was why my basic intention was to read the books all at once and set up posts ahead of time with my commentary to autopost on the appropriate days. Life, however, hasn’t been enormously accommodating in that regard (February will, I swear, be better), and obviously I haven’t been very good at getting things posted. I did finish *reading* SUMMER TREE, but oi,

We’ll be starting THE WANDERING FIRE this week, with chapters 1-4 up on Tuesday. Or possibly Wednesday, given how late I am getting the last post for SUMMER TREE up. *shakes a tiny fist at self* :p

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Mary Anne: pixelpers1stence on February 4th, 2014 01:23 am (UTC)
I quite liked the bits with the Dalrei -- the pacing felt more relaxed and Dave's development of an affinity for the community seemed more plausible than the integration of Kevin, Jennifer (before her abduction, when she was finding a niche with priestesses), and Kimberly did in to their respective niches at Brennin.

The notion of finding a red moon comforting struck me as somewhat peculiar. Red often is the color of danger and warning and seems to be forbidding, even in these books (the wardstones turn red in the face of the Unraveller's escape). But then the full moon that rises after Paul's stay on the cross, err, tree, is received as a positive sign for the people of Fionavar who are preparing to face down evil. It is acknowledged as warlike but is from the Goddess. As a symbol, it just feels a little off to me. I can understand *why* that choice was made by the author but for me, it ultimately doesn't work for me.

The treatment of women still continues to be a little problematic. In addition to the previously mentioned business of Diarmuid's skeeviness and the questionable seduction of Sharra, there is an utterly gratuitous remark at the end of chapter 15 about how Rhea was just happy that the prince complimented her breasts. *ick* Any number of other comments/compliments could have gone there, or it could've been left out entirely. And then, more significantly, I'm still not at all sure I think Jennifer's torture and breaking needed to be as sexual as it ended up being. Clearly, for later books, some degree of assault needed to happen, but I'm still ambivalent.

Throughout, the author makes little oblique references to what emotions or thoughts characters might be having, but they are so oblique that while the observer character seems to understand, I still don't. For example, after the Crown Prince returns, Kevin and D are in the pub and some thought/emotion makes its way across D's face and Kevin seems to get it. Me? I don't know if that was supposed to be cunning, disappointment, anger, amusement, indigestion....?

Someone remarked over at mizkit.com words to the effect that the ending of this might have been harder to stomach, if one didn't already have Wandering Fire to hand immediately after reading this volume. I have to agree. As a single volume, I think it lacks a real arc of development. The cliffhanger does bookend this volume's adventures neatly. I think you'd mentioned that you felt that the first two Hobbit movies suffer from a similar problem. This volume, possibly excluding Jennifer's rap and Paul's crucifixion, are largely set-up, precursor to the real action. Many multi-volume stories suffer (to varying degrees) from this problem. I gave up on Wheel of Time, for example, somewhere around volumes 9 or 10, when nothing happened at any point in the book (geographically, mentally, emotionally the characters were all still in the same place at the end as they'd been at the beginning of the volume).

The plotting of this volume does delight me and suck me in. And I enjoy it quite a lot. I do find myself wishing for a bit more character development, but that may be a function of length or of a desire to keep the breathless, headlong pacing. I'm certainly never bored and am always reluctant to put the book down at the end of the week's chapters. Although stopping there is good for this context, as it forces me to stop and take the time to think about the reading in a way I don't often do for pleasure reading.

It will be interesting to look back on everyone's thoughts on this first volume once we get to the end of the third book. To see whether some of the problematic pieces pay off, to see how much character development actually happens, etc....
Herefoxherefox on February 6th, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC)
I just realized I'd forgotten to comment on these chapters!

It's a bit funny that you like the Dalrei chapters because I always find Dave the hardest character to relate too so they tend to drag for me. His reactionary pushing of everyone away always rings a little bit false to me from the beginning of the book when everyone (possibly not Kevin, who's a little bit of an ass to him) is going out of their way to include him and he keeps wanting to push them away.

I think somewhere it's said that the moon is accompanied with a feeling of hope that permeates the land but I could be making that up since you're right that it's a very weird symbol to consider hopefully (amusingly, if we didn't KNOW it was the goddess the blowing of the mountain could probably be blamed. I was at disneyland when a huge fire was nearby and both the sun and the moon for a couple of days were very red due to the ash in the air. I liked to say we were visiting Disneyland...in HELL because it was amusing as long as you had sunglasses on to keep the ash out of your eyes)

I'd forgotten they ended back up in the real world quite so quickly...it seemed to me that they had more time to make ties between the various groups to make it more obvious why they wanted to go back. Obviously Kim and Paul have very good reasons but Dave and Kevin seem just barely involved in the stuff in Finovarr and I'd have expect them to want to stay. But it's been a long time since i read Wandering Fire so I don't remember if that's actually addressed in the first part.