The Last Light of the Sun Library Binding – May 29 2008
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|Library Binding, May 29 2008||
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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 forewarnedthe 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
What I have loved about his previous works is that the stories, the characters and the intensity of the stories were so gripping. Last Light...is 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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I love Guy Gavriel Kay, I read all his books, can not say which one I prefer (maybe Ysabel), you just let yourself be surrounded by fantasy and adventure and strong characters and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by doina tiniche
I have read an enjoyed much of Guy Gavriel Kays novels (excpeting the Finovar tapestry), and I must say that this latest book is not up to his usual standards. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2005 by Craig
I'm not finished this book yet, but I'm ready to write a review none-the-less. For staters, I think that Tigana is one of the best fantasy novels ever written. Read morePublished on Oct. 1 2004 by S. Henderson