©2005 Guy Gavriel Kay; (P)2009 Penguin
"Kay's third excellent fantasy set in the world of The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995) and The Sarantine Mosaic (1999) begins about three centuries after the events of the latter. The place is an alternate Britain, the specific time the era in which a king modeled on Alfred of Wessex (849-99), called the Great, began to make headway against raiders from the north. The times and the battles are presented from several points of view, including those of Bern Thorkellson, a young northern outlaw; Aeldred of the Anglcyn (Alfred); his children; and Cenion, a learned cleric of Llywerth (Wales). Not all the battles involve weapons. The princes of Llywerth struggle with the half-world not accepted by the new faith of Jad, and Aeldred fights to get his lords to learn to use more than their weapons. The Erlings (northmen) struggle for a living, as their lives and land are hard, but realize that raiding is harder than it used to be. A distinguished story that, for those so inclined, poses intriguing historical riddles." (Booklist)
The author comes up with some arresting insights. He's not afraid to step back and comment on the action or general aspects of human nature. The strongest part of the story arises from his recreation of the British Isles of around 950 or so. But he doesn't set it in the British Isles. He renames places and shifts things, presumably because he wants to introduce elements of fantasy and magic. But those elements are fairly lightly done. In other words, this is more a work of historical fiction with fantasy elements than a fantasy with historical parallels. To me, the fantasy elements underscored the historical elements, since people in medieval times believed so strongly in the supernatural.
In a world akin to the England of 950 BC, the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Welsh fight and co-operate to survive their encounters with each other and the fairy people who occupied the land long before any of their ancestors showed up.
This is the viking age the way it SHOULD have been. Had the sagas and folklore been the truth, this would have been it.
He has a soothing voice that is relaxing to listen to, and he captures linguistical nuances very well.
This book was an unexpected gem. I was looking for books based on viking and Celtic backgrounds and this book did not fail me. I did get this book just to kill time but was pleasantly surprised how well written and exciting it was. Definitely on of my favorite books!
I really struggled to finish this book. This story is very hard to follow since the author adds in meaningless side stories in between the multiple story lines already in the story. I'm not sure if he assumed that his readers/listeners have read his previous books, but he does not explain the characters and tribes well at all. I was very confused for the first half of the book trying to figure out who was who's son and who their enemies were. If he would have explained better and just kept to the two main story lines it would have been a good book.
The narrator does not help since he makes most of the characters sound half stupid by stuttering each line and adding inflection to the end of each sentence. He only has three voices for his characters, squeeky boy voice, squeeky woman, and gruff man. So several characters sound the same and when they are talking to each other it's hard to keep them straight. I'm glad I got this one on a super cheap sale, otherwise I would be pretty unhappy. Definately won't buy any of his other books.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
The Last Light of the Sun is another of Guy Gavriel Kay???s brilliant historical fantasies. This one blends Norse, Celtic, and Anglo-Saxon histories with a bit of faerie mythos. We follow a few main characters from each of these societies as they interact with each other to shape their land and destinies. As usual in a Guy Gavriel Kay novel, we see the struggles from each perspective, so there???s no single ???hero??? or ???villain.??? We understand what motivates each of the characters and their culture and we can admire their strengths and recognize their weaknesses. In the end, we want everyone to win but, of course, that???s not what happens.
I thought the cast of The Last Light of the Sun was not as accessible or compelling as that of Tigana and A Song for Arbonne (though I really loved a couple of the side characters, especially Judit and her brother Athelbert) but, as always, each is a work of art. All of GGK???s characters (even the minor ones) are passionate people full of hopes, fears, dreams, and plenty of spirit. This complete characterization ??? the reader???s ability to be fully in the head of the point-of-view character ??? is one of the things that sets this author above others. It occasionally makes the plot move slowly, because there may be a lot of history and motivation to relate, but it???s usually interwoven so well that it serves to give us necessary information while moving the plot at the same time. Just as the people that GGK writes about are full of passion, so is his writing. Kay is so serious about his style ??? obviously working hard to get it just right ??? that it???s a joy to read, even though occasionally it goes just slightly over the top.... Holter Graham did an excellent reading. I hope to hear more from him in the future.
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