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The Last Light of the Sun [Library Binding]

Guy Gavriel Kay
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 29 2008
There is nothing soft or silken about the north. The lives of men and women are as challenging as the climate and lands in which they dwell. For generations, the Erlings of Vinmark have taken their dragon-prowed ships across the seas, raiding the lands of the Cyngael and Anglcyn peoples, leaving fire and death behind. But times change, even in the north, and in a tale woven with consummate artistry, people of all three cultures find the threads of their lives unexpectedly brought together...

Bern Thorkellson, punished for his father's sins, commits an act of vengeance and desperation that brings him face-to-face, across the sea, with a past he's been trying to leave behind.

In the Anglcyn lands of King Aeldred, the shrewd king, battling inner demons all the while, shores up his defenses with alliances and diplomacy-and with swords and arrows-while his exceptional, unpredictable sons and daughters pursue their own desires when battle comes and darkness falls in the woods.

And in the valleys and shrouded hills of the Cyngael, whose voices carry music even as they feud and raid amongst each other, violence and love become deeply interwoven when the dragon ships come and Alun ab Owyn, chasing an enemy in the night, glimpses strange lights gleaming above forest pools.

Making brilliant use of saga, song and chronicle, Kay brings to life an unforgettable world balanced on the knife-edge of change in The Last Light of the Sun.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In the often formulaic world of fantasy fiction, Guy Gavriel Kay stands out as an innovative and challenging writer. He not only pushes the genre's limits with his unique blend of high fantasy and historical fiction, he also expands his own boundaries as a writer by constantly exploring new directions. The Last Light of the Sun is no exception, as Kay leaves the courtly world of his recent novels for a harsh northern land populated with marauding sea raiders, grim kings struggling to establish some semblance of civilization, and a slowly dying faerie world. The Last Light of the Sun invokes the Britain of the Old English sagas, in which community is built upon honour and loyalty, and the end of the world is always but a battle away.

The book follows a large cast of characters from three different societies: the Viking stand-in Erlings, the Celtic Cyngael, and the Anglo Saxon-like Anglcyn. The three groups clash repeatedly and become more closely intertwined in each meeting, as characters fight, fall in love, and die, and complex family stories and quests are played out across generations and different landscapes. What makes the book truly remarkable is Kay's honest, unsentimental storytelling style. The characters in The Last Light of the Sun are real people, not stock fantasy characters, and the plot often takes unexpected, unconventional twists, resulting in a chain of events that more closely resembles real history than romantic tales. The Last Light of the Sun is one of Kay's bleaker works, largely because it's also one of his most real. But it is still an epic tale, and like the best epics it depicts not only heroes and mighty battles but also patterns of loss and change. It is a world upon which the sun is truly setting, but it is also a world about to be reborn into a new era, and Kay tells its story like the best bards of old. --Peter Darbyshire --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this wonderfully imaginative historical fantasy from Kay (A Song for Arbonne), seemingly random deeds connect Erling (Viking) raiders and Anglcyn (English) and Cyngael (Welsh) princes: If only Bern Thorkellson hadn't stolen that horse in a desperate act of vengeance against his sorry fate; if only Dai ab Owyn hadn't stepped outside the safety of Brynfell right at the moment when the Erlings attacked; if only Ivarr Ragnarson hadn't been born ill-formed and downright cruel; if only Aeldred hadn't been king of the Anglcyn; if only Thorkell Einarson had murdered only one man and not the second; if only Alun ab Owyn hadn't stepped into that pool on a moonless night and seen the Queen of the Elves in procession. At first glance, each individual's act appears to be a normal human response. It's only later, as the characters' paths cross, that the pieces come together to weave a dazzling tapestry of conjoined fates. Solid research, filtered through vibrant prose, serves to convey a sense of how people really lived and died in Viking and Anglo-Saxon times and how they might have interacted with the realm of magic on a daily basis. Readers of lighter fantasy should be forewarned—the novel contains a lot of gruesome killing and the fairy world plays a relatively minor role, as do women.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kay does it again Feb. 27 2004
Once again, I am impressed by Canada's Master of Fantasy, Guy Gavriel Kay. As with previous tales, Kay has created a work of wonder.
The Last Light of the Sun is a tale of three cultures, the Cyngael, the Anglcyns, and the Erlings. Through the eyes of these peoples, Kay weaves a tapestry of sorrow and joy that is deserving of the highest accolades.
I will not give away any of the story. I will only say that this is a book that should be read and enjoyed by anyone who has ever read a book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another GGKay triumph April 10 2011
By Brian Ashe TOP 1000 REVIEWER
GG Kay is one of my favorite authors. His The Lion of Al Rassan is an amazing adaptation of El Cid. His Sarantium novels are great. Ysabel is strange. But this novel, incorporating Alfred's England with the Vikings, Iceland, and territories west, is one of the best. Excellent characters, who develop during the story, settings that are believable, fantasy magic according to the setting and the times, and a strong story line. Add to that a strong sense of the languages, both modern English and those of the time, and what's not to like? I will continue to read this man's writing, as long as he writes and I can read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my two favourite authors...Jack Whyte is the other... and it seems that Kay has slipped a little with his most recent book - Whyte didn't slip with Clothar.
What I have loved about his previous works is that the stories, the characters and the intensity of the stories were so gripping. Last none of these. I found myself reading the story and trying to figure out why it was taking him so long to tell such an uncomplicated story. In previous works (Lions of Al Rassan, Tigana, etc.) so much happens, the characters are more fully developed, and you cannot wait to see how it ends. Last Light of the Sun was uncomplicated, the characters were not gripping and it was pretty easy to figure out what was going to happen.
Although the book is a must read for a fan of Kay, I think that if I were to introduce Guy Gavriel Kay to a reader who had not been exposed to him before, they would not see what all the fuss was about. Any and all of his previous books are vastly superior to the Last Light of the Sun.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book. March 6 2004
I have read all of Guy Gavriel Kay's novels and I have loved every one. The Last Light of the Sun is even better than most of them. I like the combination of real history and his parallel universe. Kay does not try to hide the fact that King Aeldred of Anglcyn is really Alfred the Great. But this is history with the additional twist of fantasy. Before I read The Summer Tree (Kay's first novel), I did not read most fantasy, other than The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which I had read in adolescence. It took the strong persuasion of a good friend and a trusted student to get me to try that book. I soon realized that Kay's novels were very different than the stereotypical genre novels I had associated with fantasy. Kay writes well and draws upon a strong literary background in his work.
Aside from the compelling story-telling and the strongly drawn characters, the aspect I loved most about The Last Light of the Sun is the faeries. In fact I wish that the unnamed faery who meets with Alun was present in more scenes. Kay is drawing strongly on the English and Celtic tradition here, not just for his historical detail.

I do have one complaint about this book (and would actually have given it four and one-half stars had this rating existed) and that is the authorial intrusion. At times the narrator admittedly manipulates the story, telling the tales of peripheral characters and commenting on the development of the plot. I liked this technique in Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. However, these traditional tales need a more traditional narrative and Kay's attempt to interfere with that style annoyed me, but only a bit.
I would like to see a sequel to this book to follow the stories of the young characters. Particularly I think the bond between Alun and Kendra deserves another novel.
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