©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)
A wonderful, terrifying and yet magical world wrapped in a engaging story of one long summer. It kept the earphones glued to my head for a whole weekend. The narration does the book justice; the characters and the storyline come fully alive. Well worth your credit!
This is a beautiful story. These days, it's getting tougher to find books that not only boast of a good plot, but are actually written well. Kay uses lyrical language to the point where I stopped the iPod several times to simply gawk. Some of the metaphors, sentences and descriptions are--in a word--breathtaking. The fights are brutal, the characters are vivid in the extreme, and the themes of redemption, spiritual reality and loyalty ring like hammers off an anvil of solid prose. Having this book in your library is, to quote the author, "needful as night's end."
Bardic. Mythological. Philosophical. Musing. Heroic. Masterful storytelling. Simply...... beautiful. I find it difficult to say more.
Taking place in the same world as Al Rassan and the Sarantium Mosaic, the locale of this story is far north of there and a few hundred years later. A different narrator than the other Kay books I've listened to lured me to try this one in audio format. It was a good decision.
As in all of Kay's books, there are several points of view and this time it seemed easier to follow than some of his other books. The picture he paints of the land and the characters is vivid and moving. The land is undergoing changes and the raids of the Ehrlings (read Vikings) up on the Anglcan (read English) are no longer as easy as they used to be. He follows the struggles of Alun ab Owyn, Bern Thorkellson and his father Thorkel Alannson, King Aeldred and his children, and the priest Cenion as they attempt to deal with honor and loss, cultural and religious changes, and love.
There is more magic in this book than in the others I've read. Faeries and other supernatural creatures populate the landscape while the religion of Jad harshly punishes those who are able to see and communicate with the Fey.
There is some extremely gory torture and killing that is hard to read about or listen to, but I'm sure it's historically accurate. All in all, a very enjoyable book.
I stumbled onto this story because of Holter Graham, whom I now believe to be a present day Cyngael. A convergent story-line is difficult at best, but Guy Gavriel Kay weaves a mystical reality and brings it home with honest characters. The end result is a magical story that is as elegant and beautiful as Celtic knot.
The best thing you can make is joy.
How you feel about a narrator is a very personal thing, and I realize that some folks probably find Holter Graham very acceptable as a narrator.
Unfortunately, I found his dramatic range hard to listen to. Every sentence was pronounced as if it were the final catch phrase of an ad campaign, with an ironic lift at the end of just about every paragraph. This took me far away from the book, and I had to set it aside (something I rarely do with an audio book, I usually listen at least once to each book, often many times.)
Listen carefully to the sample to see if Mr. Graham's style is something you'd enjoy. (Actually, after listening to the sample I realize it may be too short to experience the full impact of the sing-songiness I felt throughout the portion of the book I was able to listen to...)
I bumped into this book looking for a Holter Graham narroration. It is not my usual type of literature, but I am really glad I took the chance! This is a "saga" that I did not want to end. Creative, human, and entertaining. Highly recommended! Of course, Holter Graham was wonderful to listen to.
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!
Kat at FanLit
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.
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.
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