Read The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay Online

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In his eagerly awaited new novel, Guy Gavriel Kay turns his gaze to the northlands, brilliantly evoking the Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic cultures of a turbulent age.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-proIn his eagerly awaited new novel, Guy Gavriel Kay turns his gaze to the northlands, brilliantly evoking the Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic cultures of a turbulent age.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....

Title : The Last Light of the Sun
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780743484237
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 501 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Last Light of the Sun Reviews

  • Cait • A Page with a View
    2018-09-16 10:19

    Ok it's pretty hard for me not to be interested in something that involves Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic cultures, buuuuut I was honestly really bored throughout most of this. Everything about it was fine... the writing is fine. The world and characters and everything were fine. The book and my feelings towards it are about as lukewarm as possible and that's all I have to say about that.

  • Ctgt
    2018-09-09 10:22

    Forgetting is part of our lives, my lord. Sometimes it is a blessing, or we could never move beyond loss.Guy Gavriel Kay, how do I love thee? Let me count....alright that might a bit over the top but I have to say Kay is one of my favorite authors so you can take that into consideration if you read on.Kay dips his toe into 8th century Anglo-Saxon, Welsh and Viking cultures using characters from each to weave together another fantastic historical fiction tale with a touch of the mystical, faeries. Characters to identify with and a great prose style are the two main reasons for my Kay love. Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan were my first two reads and I loved them both, Under Heaven was great but I didn't click with the characters as much. This story was back to form for me.Bern Thorkellson an Erling(viking) escapes Rabady Island and ends up joing the Erling mercenary force at Jormsvik.Alun and Dai ab Owyn, Cyngael(Welsh) princes of Cadyr plan a raid on an outlying farmhouse of Brynn ap Hywll, famed fighter and leader of the neighboring province. Fortunately for the brothers, they are thwarted by Ceinion the Jaddite(Christian)high cleric to the three Cyngael provinces, who comes uopn and warns them that Brynn and a large party are currently staying at the farmhouse.Aeldred king of the Anglcyn(Anglo-Saxon) is setting up a series of forts to protect his people from the raiding of the Erlings. At the same time he is attempting to raise his subjects through knowledge and scholarship and has ask the high cleric Ceinion to join him in this endeavor.My favorite part of the whole book is the exploration of the relationship that is formed between Alun and a curious faerie.Her hair went pale, nearly white, came back towards gold but not all the way. She said, "You were in the pool. I...saved you there." Her voice, simply speaking words, made him realize he had never, really, made music with his harp, or sung a song the way it should be sung. He felt he would weep if he were not careful.There are several encounters throughout the book and I thought Kay did a wonderful job of conveying the magic of these moments, how the two interacted trying to understand each others view of the world. How Alun struggled with this legend/myth, how it might change not only his views on the world but might actually change his world."Will my own world be there when I leave you?""I don't know what you mean. This is the world we have." She was beside him, very near. The glade would have been dark were it not for the light she cast. Her hair was all around him, copper-coloured now, thick and warm; he could touch it, had been doing so, in a wood on a summer night. They lay in deep grass, edge of a clearing. Sounds of the forest around them, murmurous. These woods had been shunned for generations by his people and the Anglcyn, both. His fear was beside him, however, not among the trees.Kay also spends some time on the question of fate or consequences of actions/inactions.Some paths, some doorways, some people were not to be yours, though the slightest difference in the rippling of time might have made them so. A tossed pebble landing a little sooner, a little later.But sometimes the most gallant actions, those requiring a summoning of all our will, access to bravery beyond easy understanding or decription....have no consequence that matters. They leave no ripples upon the surface of succeeding events, cause nothing, achieve nothing. Are trivial, marginal. This can be hard to accept.Just another fantastic story from Kay.4.5 stars

  • Kelly
    2018-09-14 15:06

    I think my love for Guy Gavriel Kay is sufficiently well known. He gets three stars on this one only because I feel it isn't up to his usual high standard. For any other author, I'd probably give it four and call it a pleasant surprise.As all his novels are, this is based on a historical area and cultural group. This time, he chose the British Isles and the Vikings, and the people who lived there before. As always, his research is impeccable. As always, his mood is beautifully drawn. The poetic like language I have come to expect from Kay is there, woven into the descriptions and actions of the characters.However, this time the language just didn't sing for me. I've cried at Tigana, The Lions of Al-Rassan, The Sarantine Duology, and even Song for Arbonne. This time, it just didn't reach me. I don't know if the characters were as real to me. There was an odd distancing thing that is not usually characteristic of his writing. It felt... like a formula that he was fulfilling and not like a series of well observed commentaries, beautifully written and inserted into a lush world. This was okay, and certainly better than Ysabel or the majority of Under Heaven, but it can't live up to his best. Come on, Kay! Get back in form! I'm rooting for you!

  • KatHooper
    2018-09-25 13:05

    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.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. Here’s an example from the beginning of the book from the point of view of a character who we’ll never meet again:Here in the remote, pagan north, at this wind-scoured island market of Rabady, he was anxious to begin trading his leather and cloth and spices and bladed weapons for furs and amber and salt and heavy barrels of dried cod (to sell in Ferrieres on the way home) — and to take immediate leave of these barbarian Erlings, who stank of fish and beer and bear grease, who could kill a man in a bargaining over prices, and who burned their leaders — savages that they were — on ships among their belongings when they died.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:She said nothing, though he thought she was about to. Instead, she stepped nearer, rose upon her toes, and kissed him on the lips, tasting of moonlight, though it was dark where they stood, except for her. The blue moon outside, above, shining over his own lands, hers, over the seas. He brought his hands up, touched her hair. He could see the small, shining impossibility of her. A faerie in his arms.Tasting of moonlight? I’m going to let that one pass…There’s also quite a bit of philosophizing in The Last Light of the Sun, mainly about how an individual’s actions can have unexpected and life-changing effects on others. Some of this was relayed in a few vignettes in which we’re quickly told the rest of the life history of very minor characters. These episodes were meant to be contemplative, but I found them intrusive since they felt rushed (decades of life summed up in a few paragraphs), broke up the plot, involved characters whom I didn’t care about, and contained repetitive insights about the uncertainty of life or the tendency for seemingly small actions to have long-lasting consequences. Perhaps more pensive persons will appreciate these parts. Fortunately, they were short, so they didn’t preclude my enjoyment of the novel.I listened to The Last Light of the Sun on audio (Penguin Audiobooks). Holter Graham did an excellent reading. I hope to hear more from him in the future.www.fantasyliterature.com

  • Jane
    2018-09-10 14:09

    The author brought together the 8th-9th century Viking/Anglo-Saxon/Welsh cultures marvellously, through the stories of protagonist[s] from each: Bern Thorkellson and his father, the exiled Thorkell Einarson of the Erlings; Prince Athelbert of the Anglcyn, and Prince Alun ab Owyn from the Cyngael. Three of these characters, ostensibly enemies, work together to prevent a revenge raid on the Cyngael farm of the man who, a generation before, had slew a famous Erling and now has his sword. Bern has become a mercenary, and is involved in that coming raid; his father had fled to Cyngael and is a servant on the farm. The princes, Thorkell, and Alun's faithful dog make their way through a haunted wood to arrive at the farm. I held my breath. Can they prevent carnage? The only nods to fantasy I could see are the same world of the blue and white moons as that in Kay's Sarantium trilogy; faeries with ever-changing hair color; and souls which had been taken by the faerie queen, then discarded when no longer useful to her, becoming malevolent green spirits.I liked very much the different points of view of the three protagonists, their cultures, and the characters' interior thoughts. We were presented with motivations. The novel was well plotted, except the ending was a little too 'pat'. Characterization was very good and I liked that the author used no terribly outlandish names. Bizarre names are a real blot on fantasy, in my opinion. I liked that the author used a variation on the 'King Alfred and the Cakes' story; also that Alun, at the farmhouse, an amateur harpist, recited the author's variation on a poem from the Canu Heledd medieval poem cycle: "Ystall Gynddynlan" [The hall of Cynddylan]. http://www.kmatthews.org.uk/history/c... Poem #2. The time period absolutely came alive for me through the excellent writing. Yes, this book was a fantasy, but I consider it a fine example of a Viking story and I felt Vikings were presented accurately. I feel the author really did his research into this whole historical period. I felt he really captured the Welsh spirit. I did not see how Jadwiga and her fiancé fit into the story. There was one small episode, then they were dropped. I wish there had been more on Judit, Athelbert's sister.

  • Wealhtheow
    2018-09-02 11:15

    Really excellent fantasy set in the medieval Europe . There’s a minor fantasy element (the fey), but the majority of the plot concerns the Vikings’ last raids on England. Exile Bern Thorkellson and his fellow mercenaries venture onto Anglcyn for plunder and glory, but waiting for them are the combined forces of King Aeldred and his Cyngael allies. The majority of the book does not concern war, but rather the inner workings of the characters’ minds and the wyrdness of Fate. The characters are each well developed and very interesting, and I would have read a book about any one of them. Unlike Barbara Hambly, who struggles to marshal all of her characters together into a single story, each little act and decision adds up to a greater whole. Near the beginning, a peasant girl’s murder is mentioned—and near the end of the story her sister’s nonviolent vengeance turns the tide of battle.

  • Sandra
    2018-09-19 16:09

    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.

  • KostasAt
    2018-09-22 10:26

    8/10On of the few writers from our era in the Fantasy genre, and perhaps the best one out there, that can make quality stories even through his stand-alone books is definitely Guy Gavriel Kay and this book is no exception.The story of the book, inspired by the Vikings raid in the time of Alfred the Great, is, perhaps, a bit darker than Kay’s other books as his writing is also a little tougher. But in this book he has managed to make a magical story, filled with wonderful characters that pass through war, sacrifice, betrayals and love.I know the book might not be perfect, and perhaps not everyone is going to like it, but personally I like it a lot, both for the story and also for Kay’s unique style. So, for those who are fans of Kay's works read this one and, I believe, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Sarah
    2018-09-03 16:26

    I found this to be one of Kay's more challenging books. Shorter than most of the others, it seemed less substantial, somehow. Once I was engrossed in the story, it was over too soon. Still, the first time I read it, i felt it didn't stand up to his earlier work. By that point I had fallen in love with The Lions of al-Rassan, and everything else suffered by comparison.A second reading totally changed my perspective. The story is so intimate, so visceral, and I had originally expected the kind of sweeping drama from Lions and the Sarantine books. I was totally unprepared for this. Everything fits so beautifully, and I was emotionally exhausted when I finished.

  • MTK
    2018-09-06 14:18

    Ο Kay αυτή τη φορά τοποθετεί τoυς πολιτισμούς της Βόρειας Ευρώπης (Κέλτες, Σάξονες, Βίκινγκ) στο παράλληλο σύμπαν του με τα γνωστά θαυμάσια αποτελέσματα. Η μετάφραση του τίτλου απαράδεκτη και παράλογη, για ποιό λόγο "Το τελευταίο φως του ήλιου" έγινε "Πολεμιστές του Λυκόφωτος";

  • Margaret
    2018-09-11 14:07

    Though fantasy rather than historical fiction, Kay's books evoke different regions of medieval Europe, and The Last Light of the Sun is set in the harsh northern realms analogous to Scandinavia and England, among the Anglcyn (Anglo-Saxons), Cyngael (Welsh), and Erlings (Vikings): rather a different setting from the warm regions and courtly society of his previous (particularly the two books of The Sarantine Mosaic and The Lions of Al-Rassan. The language is beautiful, and Kay deftly interweaves the stories and viewpoints of different characters, until the stories all come together into the finale.The problem for me was that none of the characters grabbed me in the way that Kay's characters usually do, and thus, the conclusion was less emotionally satisfying. Perhaps it was the lack of a strong central female character like Jehane of The Lions of Al-Rassan or Dianora of Tigana; there were interesting women - Kendra, Judit, Enid, Rhiannon - but we got a point of view from only one of them (Kendra) and none of them received enough screen time to get to know them well. I felt curiously distanced from the male characters as well, even those who might be considered the main characters, Bern and Alun.On my second reading, I had a similar reaction and was able to think about it a bit more. Part of it, I think, is that I'm more familiar with the history he's using as a base -- early medieval England and Wales -- and so some of the sense of wonder I've felt in other books is lacking. Part of it, as I said in my earlier comments, is that I never connected as much with the characters, particularly as The Last Light of the Sun is lacking in strong female characters (as compared to pretty much all of his other books). I guess I'll just have to leave it at that: it doesn't work for me as well as Tigana or The Lions of Al-Rassan, but I'd still rather be reading any book by Kay than most other fantasy.

  • Nikki
    2018-09-17 08:59

    Reread 30th November, 2009.I've read all the rest of Guy Gavriel Kay's fiction since I read this the first time. It's definitely not my favourite. The writing style doesn't quite seem so smooth and easy -- there's something a bit dictatorial about his writing in places in this book, so that instead of letting us make observations, he's handing them to us pre-packaged and not letting us do so much work. I don't remember that in his other books, but it struck me quite strongly, rereading The Last Light of the Sun. It's funny: I think I like The Last Light of the Sun more than I did the first time I read it, and yet I have more criticisms. For example, I don't think I got to know and love the characters as much as I did in, say, the Fionavar Tapestry, or Tigana. GGK can tug on my heartstrings with the best of them -- probably is the best of them -- and I did feel it, in this book. Alun was a character I found compelling because the Cyngael are so obviously Welsh. I tried to sympathise with him, really wanted to, but so often he was too cold and presumptuous... I wish that Judit had been more of a character; I think she would've been fun. I found her a sympathetic character.I found that the end wrapped everything up a bit too neatly, too. Alun marries Kendra, Bern goes home and marries the girl bitten by a snake (and to my shame, I can't remember her name, I found her that much of a non-character -- she, too, could have been more compelling), Thorkell dies, Alun gets to free Dai... all of it. I wish there'd been more attention paid to the raggedy-ends -- Thira, Bern's whore, or Hakon, the Erling who loved Kendra, Rhiannon... It feels like all the threads are resolved with a bit of handwaving. I wanted more. But then, I always do, with GGK.I don't know how I feel about the portrayal of the Welsh (yeah, yeah, Cyngael, but we know what he means) in this book. It certainly doesn't anger me, certainly.Read 25th July, 2008.I really, really liked The Last Light Of The Sun. Some things about it were predictable, but that's not a new thing for me when I read fantasy. Some of the things were predictable but I never figured out how they would come about. I really love the melding of different cultures in this, the Norse and the English and the British. One thing I have started to observe in Guy Gavriel Kay is that he can't really write romance -- at least, not in a way that satisfies me. In the Fionavar books, in Ysabel and in this book, there are characters that I can plainly see he wants to be together, but he seems to bring them together too suddenly and then... it doesn't quite work for me. The character-building and world-building is wonderful, and sometimes his relationship building is too (see: Paul and Kevin, in The Summer Tree, in my opinion). He's better at writing friendship than romance.Halfway through reading this book -- fifty pages in, even -- I put it aside for a bit and ordered all the other books of Kay's I could get my hands on. His writing is lovely, and his storytelling just right for me.

  • Ron
    2018-09-15 13:08

    At first I thought this was the worst Kay novel I'd read; by the end I considered it among his best.My negative opinion stemmed from the long narrative passages early in the book. They read like history texts--interesting, but not engaging. Eventually, having defined his collision courses, Kay turned up the heat and brought his story to a boil.Among modern writers of my experience, Kay is one of the best expressing the internal dialogue of his characters--the thoughts, emotions and even the errors in judgment. Even better, he sensitively handles that gray area where the natural and supernatural meet. A few other writers may have more original and interesting supernatural worlds, but Kay is a master of exploring the intersection from the point of view of a character who thought he knew all about the "real" world and is suddenly or subtly confronted with experiences unexplainable from that paradigm. Not only fun to read, but a trigger of great reader introspection.Could have used a map.

  • boogenhagen
    2018-09-15 09:10

    Vikings - I like them, and I like GGK so this is the best of both worlds.

  • Ariana Deralte
    2018-09-21 13:17

    I wanted to like this book. It was about Vikings, early British kings, and even the fair folk for goodness sake! But time and again, whenever I was finally getting into the story or bonding with a character, GGK would pull you out of the story with either a seemingly unrelated until pages later historical aside, or comments about really obvious things like how one small choice can make a difference. Regarding the historical asides, I felt an awful lot like I was reading GGK's version of Les Miserables unabridged since there'd be ten pages on something only tangentially related to the main story line before he'd deign to let you see the main characters again. (To be fair, in Les Mis, it was more like 50-100 pages;)Having just read Under Heaven recently (and having read the Sarantium ones years before), I can safely say that GGK makes history strangely boring. I admire that he really does his research and gets his culture right, but he often drains the life out of it as well. This book, less so than others since his fight scenes, especially the first raid, were excellent to read. I'd have been content with just that if I hadn't had to read about the life of some random miller/farmer etc right after that. Pure boredom. (I've seen authors make random asides to other people's lives work, like in American Gods, but it destroyed The Last Light of the Sun). I liked some of the characters well enough, but I knew GGK well enough to know exactly what would happen to all of them. Down to and including the inexplicable woman who falls in love with the man she met only once. Meh. I'm not letting anyone talk me into reading another GGK book. He's had enough chances from me.

  • Geoff
    2018-09-14 11:10

    Another good book from Guy Gavriel Kay.I enjoyed the world and the characters. I'd say these are the parts of Kay's books that I enjoy the most. I know this to be true because the first, and sometimes lengthy, part of his books seem to have little in the way of plot advancement. I tend to have no idea what's going on until about a third of the way into the book. Its all character and world setup. Regardless of this, I'm always completely into the book from the get-go.I do feel the climax of this book is not at the end of the book. It comes closer to the middle. This lessens the plot developments that come after it but leaves a lot of room for final character moments.You may read that this book is in the same world as Sailing to Sarantium/Lord of Emperors and The Lions of Al-Rassan but there certainly isn't any reason to read them in a particular order. Its just fun to see the references to other areas of the world that are the settings of the other books.

  • Arthur
    2018-09-23 11:24

    One of the best fantasy books. It is better than Tigana imho. Tigana was sort of epic fantasy with wizards, etc. This one is a dark fantasy reminding me of Black Company by Glen Cook but in some ways it is even better. I am not very good at reviews, so I can only say that I really really liked the book. I would most definitely recommend this one. Love, death, heroes, loyalty, battles, ugliness of the war, unpredictable events and mystery. I am stunned. I never expected so much from a single volume fantasy work. 10 out of 10 without a cloud of doubt. The only slight drawback is a missing map.

  • Susan
    2018-09-26 14:22

    3.5, I rounded up.

  • Lanko
    2018-08-27 13:07

    Review 2: Finished the last third on 18/08/16.Opinion unchanged. I think its fine to write about the lives of people, even if they don't make life or death or world changing journeys, but I just couldn't feel emotionally affected or attached to anyone as the POVs just changed too much.Review 1: DNF ~70%(view spoiler)[First GGK and it did not work for me. Mostly it was the narrative style mixed with the characterization. There are lots of characters becoming the main POV at least once. The first character that appears only returns more than 100 pages later. It's really hard to attach to someone or even remember most of them. GGK tried subtly to deal with this, reminding us of their motives and background that led them to their current situation in various different ways, but it still didn't work. It always came down to "the exiled guy who hates his father", "the guy who lost his brother", "the shrewd king", etc.The omniscient style was another major problem, zooming out way too much from the characters, and telling a summary of their lives and way of thinking over and over, in way too much detail. This is a problem created by the way the POVs are handled. Wherever you feel you finally might know more about someone, the POV switches to totally random people or someone who was only briefly mentioned by name.Even worse, there are so many names, ancestors and deeds done being described that you simply don't remember or don't care. Imagine if GRRM decided to shove the Targaryen's line, the Stark's line, Robert's rebellion, the Dorne plot, the details of the seven gods and more in a huge summary in the beginning (and continuing throughout) and simply expected people to absorb everything and be awed or care by the importance of these things.Add all this problems to extremely long chapters, all dense because of the extreme details of everyday life, from songs to the silly games they play to the details of the long ships and how they see life, random philosophical meditations that pop out of nowhere, almost looking like a shift to second person, with no way for certain characters to behave or be able to think that way about life.It seems those passages simply popped in the author's head and were included because they were pretty.I realize this may be the author's style: to just write about the people who inhabits his real life inspired worlds, that his point isn't the individuals so much as the whole forest. That each character is a thread in a huge, complex tapestry that can be changed completely with very minor choices or even because of seconds.The thing is, he didn't chose the best moments of those character's lives or the changing point in the world. So after almost 400 pages with no point or goal in sight, no deep connection with anyone and narrative summaries of everyone dominating the scene, it just doesn't matter anymore.(hide spoiler)]

  • Elizabeth McDonald
    2018-09-02 09:13

    Interestingly, though I listened to this audiobook several years ago, I had completely forgotten that I finished it - I thought I had only gotten a few hours in. It was curious how utterly I had forgotten what happened in the book. As I went through, I kept thinking, "Oh, right, I remember that!" - but didn't remember what happened next.Guy Gavriel Kay often sets his fantasy novels in altered, magical versions of real historical settings. This one worked from a theme of Vikings, Britons and Celts, though called Erlings, Anglcyns and Cyngael. I have enjoyed other Vikings-in-Britain fiction in the past few years, most notably Nancy Farmer's The Sea of Trolls, and Kay's fictionalized versions worked for me as well. He is good at world-building; I felt I could picture the characters in their surroundings.What else to say? Really, mostly that no one could mistake this for anything but a GGK book. It has vast, sweeping plot arcs. Its narration changes from one main character to another frequently, showing the same events from different viewpoints. (I haven't ready any of the Game of Thrones series, but friends' descriptions of it reminded me of GGK's writing.) It pulls complex threads together to build to triumphant conclusions, though occasionally his writing style becomes a bit overwrought with Significance and Meaning and Metaphor. There are lots of romantic relationships, though little love at first sight - sometimes characters who seem initially destined for each other wind up worlds apart. As usual, I can't help but occasionally wish the women in the stories did a little more. There are multiple strong female characters, but often their heroism comes through as either sensing things through magic, or being emotional pillars of support for the men. It's a difficult problem when you are writing in a pseudo-historical setting, as women were not warriors, but still I think the female characters could have been a bit more active.All in all, though, Guy Gavriel Kay delivers. Though I've outgrown my middle school years of reading anything with a dragon or wizard on the cover, this fantasy continues to delight me.

  • Wren Handman
    2018-09-17 10:26

    This book is absolutely beautiful. The writing is simply gorgeous, and I could not put it down. It's been awhile since I've read a traditional fantasy, and it was a nice break in stride. This book has an absolutely beautiful voice - I could not put it down. The narrative is really different; fast-paced and sort of staggering, like it's stumbling towards beauty. It was really different, and I loved it.Great plot and wonderful weaving of disparate stories into a great narrative with a satisfying conclusion. The sense of history and layers of the past was amazing.I had two issues with it. First of all, the sexism was sort of annoying. It was definitely the society and not Kay (there were some strong female characters who helped alleviate the pall), but why is every society so freaking sexism? Especially when a society is based so strongly on Vikings, and there's a lot of evidence that women were completely equal in Viking society; or at least certainly not treated the way medieval Europe treated its women.The other problem I had is that fantasy trope of taking Earth cultures, giving them new names, and then slightly altering their society. The best parts of Kay's world are the parts that diverge from the Earth societies he's copying: the three part rhyming structure of one society, the melodic voices that come down to fae ancestry, etc. Why not just dive away from Earth entirely? We would be just as hooked.

  • Jason M Waltz
    2018-09-14 16:16

    the last third earned the 4th star all on its own, otherwise this is a 3 star book for me. lyrical, fantastical, spiritual, familial, most definitely heroic, and all of these found layered upon layers. until that final third I could not say delightful though. till then much too much trying to be mystical too, which mostly was just mysterious murkiness. the heroic timber is great, evident throughout in both recollections of the past and in current deeds and choices, by both genders, multiple age groups, classes, roles. this is much the tale of choices and consequences, of long-term ripple effects, of consequential and inconsequential moments. written in style reminiscent of the sagas of Vikings and Celts, set in an historically authentic period, the exploratory illuminatory storytelling delivers thoroughly come the close, but there were times of aggravation for this reader. while most of the slice-of-life vignettes scattered throughout completed necessary bits of the whole, there were a few I never got, or at least appreciated their import. not to say there is a single wasted word herein, there are tons of lessons or at least life truths present.I liked it overall, greatly appreciated the ultimate heroic-ness of it, but can't say I am endeared by Kay's style. it did seem to live up to all the hype, but it's just not my cup o' joe.

  • Tim Hicks
    2018-09-04 12:01

    Not quite a good as some of his others, but still very good. I was occasionally snatched away from being lost in his magical world by stylistic things. First, Kay seems to be obsessed with the blood-eagle thing. It comes up over and over, far more than needed. Second, and this is true of most fantasy, every arrow shot in the book seems to kill its target instantly. Every one of them can shoot individual peas out of a pod at 100 paces. Third, while I have no problem with sentence fragments and the occasional "whole lives can turn on small moments like this" or "that turned out to be a bad decision", they seemed to come up too often -- even allowing for the comfortable feeling Kay gives that you're sitting around a fire with him and a few friends and he's telling you a story. There are a LOT of characters, and a lot of plot threads, but by golly he ties them all together at the end with a flair, including a couple of "huh, didn't see THAT coming" to balance the more predictable outcomes that the plot demanded. Still a very good book, and I'm ready for Children of Earth and Sky now.

  • Kevin
    2018-09-25 08:21

    I freakin' give up on this one. There are too many other books that I want to read for me to waste any more time on this one. Following the plot and the characters is like some sort of twisted puzzle or whodunnit mystery. As a result, after 232 pages, i couldn't care less about any of the characters nor about how this convoluted story will end. The first book that i read by this author was "Under Heaven" and it was excellent in every way that this book is found wanting. It was excellent! Unfortunately, other books i've read by Kay are not as compelling. This is the third i've read and I'm done with him. Additionally, as a result of this book, i've implemented an overdue personal policy of NOT finishing a book unless it has won me in the first 25%. If i am not completely into the story by 1/4 of the way through, I'll spend the remaining 75% on another book that I want to read. Life is to freaking short.

  • HBalikov
    2018-09-24 15:21

    The Last Light of the Sun is a work of what I would call fantastical historical fiction. My guess places it in about the same period as Bernard Cornwell's The Last Kingdom. (see my review)Unlike Cornwell, Kay distills the essence of the period and is not hung up on the historical events of our world. His characters are all of his imagination but true to that period where Norse gods (and those they inspired) clashed with those of the South. His characters are well drawn and the plot is multi-layered. Magic (or a belief in it) has a significant role and is well handled and doesn't overwhelm the plot. If Kay shows less interest in the military tactics that could win or lose a kingdom, he has thought hard about personal history and the choices (including relationships) both great and small make that change their lives. A very enjoyable read.

  • Nico
    2018-09-26 16:08

    Once again a wonderful historical fantasy story by Guy Gavriel Kay. I absolutely love his style, the worlds he creates and his beautiful prose. GGK shows a fantastic clash of cultures, of new vs old in this Viking, Anglo-Saxon, Welsh inspired world. Viewed through the eyes of these great characters. We see their often times opposed motivations, their struggles and self doubts, that makes a story so much richer and more enjoyable for me. GGK really knows how to tell an epic tale and I already ordered all his books I could get my hand on, but I think I will spread them out wide over the year, because you shouldn't get oversaturated with great stories, makes it so hard for the other to live up to :)

  • Tom Lloyd
    2018-09-01 16:14

    Not his finest, but very good by the standards of anyone else perhaps. It took me a long time to get to know the characters and something about the structure of the plot seems to throw me off a bit, but that may have been just me being slow getting into it. By the end the prose, the sheer elegance and the (seemingly) faithful and honest level of detail had all won me over and I continue to enjoy my progress through his body of work.

  • Liviu
    2018-08-27 13:18

    A multi-layered historical fantasy in the alt-Earth cycle of the author which contains the Sarantium duology and the Lion of Al Rassan, this book is a pleasure to read; Vikings, Anglo-saxons and Welsh people in a tale of families, light magic, battles and religion. The world of the faeries and the gods is ending and the world of Jad - a Christ analogue - is starting to become dominant.

  • Margret
    2018-09-02 16:29

    3.5 stars

  • Rebecca
    2018-09-21 16:13

    Kay's work continues to be gorgeous, although I have mixed feelings about this one. I'd started to feel disappointed, then was completely shocked out of the disappointment, and ended overall satisfied. But there are still elements that I find confusing or disappointing, which gives a lower score of an otherwise excellent book.There were two different points in this book, once involving a growing love triangle and once involving an Iago-like villain, where I was convinced that I knew what was going to happen and was completely disappointed in Kay for failing me. The situations were set up to be a tired old retread. The villain, especially, was disappointing--most of Kay's characters are interesting people with complex motivations, and this one seemed to be straight from central casting for a bad mystery-thriller--the deformed sadist whose only motivation is to hurt people. After half a book of catching shadowy glimpses of the intimidating figure, to get in his head and find such banality was quite the let-down.And yet just as I started to feel disgusted, Kay reverses each situation in an entirely unexpected and yet sensible way, completely renewing my faith in him. The subsequent situations are fresh and complicated, clearly improved by the flipping of the tired archetype. While the events are not happy ones, in both cases, I was delighted by the surprise.Overall, the characters are rich, the political situation tangled, and the setting a slightly off-kilter version of a historical period that is both interesting and under-served in fantasy. (Kay's alternate histories follow the real world loosely, with magic staying out of the main action but dancing around the edges. He also seems to have a thing for two moons. Is the world of "The Last Light of the Sun" the same as "Under Heaven", I wonder?) Like other works, it follows some aspects of history startlingly closely (a passing reference to Aeldred burning cakes over a hearth fire is clearly a reference to a legend of Alfred the Great), but strikes out often enough on its own. The ending is overall deeply satisfying, with the Viking raider Thorkell bringing his family full circle and the Gaelic prince discovering the origins of the green spirits that have haunted him all along.There are bits that don't quite work for me, though. The timing, for one--at the beginning, the way that Thorkell's son is written about, I had figured that Thorkell had been gone for years. About halfway through the book, Kay becomes very adamant about the fact that Thorkell left less than a year ago. It doesn't make sense, emotionally. I actually wonder if he changed his mind halfway through writing and suddenly revised the timeline.Alun and Kendra's sudden psychic link also does not make a great deal of sense--it seems to come from nowhere. Again, it feels like a plot device, as if Kay wanted to give Aeldred an ability to see what was going on among the Cyngaels, and this was the only way he could figure out how to tie everything together. Finally, it's never made clear what Rhiannon's fate will be. It's heavily implied to be one thing, and then a few paragraphs from the end, Aeldred notes that that particular marriage is no longer necessary. Does she go through with it anyway? Find someone else? Her fate is too central to the book to be left hanging. Especially when we find out far too much about the fates of a dozen random characters who appear once to witness something or to provide a useful plot point. We then follow them through their lives for another three pages that have nothing to do with the plot, until they finally die, before we are released to go back to the main characters. It provides a certain amount of local flavor, but overall is unnecessary and a little irritating.Still, despite the flaws, it's a deep, rich work with engaging characters I genuinely cared about. The mix of history and fantasy is a heady one, in Kay's hands.