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~READ EBOOK ♞ The Last Light of the Sun ♱ 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 AgeThere 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 TogetherBern 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 BehindIn 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 WoodsAnd 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 PoolsMaking 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 The flow of time and events is a large river men and women are usually no than pebbles in that, carried along But sometimes, at some moments, they are Sometimes the course of the stream is changed, not just for a few people but for manyThis is the story of such moments It s the story of an Anglycn king who, having unified his land, looks for ways to preserve its peace for his children Of an Cyngael cleric who dreams of uniting all people under a benevolent God Of a young, Ehrling man who wishes to escape the life bequeathed to him by his father s impulsive actions Of that father s search for a new path that has meaning and purpose And of a Cyngael prince struggling in the wake of loss.In the way that only he can, Guy Gavriel Kay invokes our own history and subtly weaves in elements of fantasy and myth Here he takes the world of the Saxons and Danes circa the mid to late 800s A.D and recreates it as the world of the Anglycns and Erhlings, with the Cyngael standing in as the Welsh Celts Having just come from reading the third book in Bernard Cornwell s Saxon tales, Lords of the North, I was primed for this story and was able to slip into it with ease If I have one complaint about this book it s that it could ve been a little longer so that the endings for the various characters could have had some space to breathe a bit.This is now my seventh book by Guy Gavriel Kay so I think it s safe to say that he s a favorite author of mine He has a smooth and easy writing style, not simplistic by any means, that gently pulls readers onward through to the tale s inevitable conclusion Along the way he ll make you think, he ll fill you with yearning and wonder, and he ll likely tweak your heart a time or two for good measure His writing is a balm to my soul, offering familiarity and warmth as the sentences he pens wrap me up in cocoons of comfort I eagerly look forward to my next journey with this word master. Guy Gavriel Kay, along with George R R Martin, are perhaps the best living writers of epic fantasy, and The Last Light of the Sun is up to his usual standards However, this does mean that one has to be in the mood to read epic fantasy to enjoy it.This is the sort of book where I think one s enjoyment depends greatly on whether you re in the mood to read what it offers The Last Light of the Sun is not a flexible book or one that fits itself to the reader s mood It s epic fantasy of a particular style, and insists on being read in that mode I recommend saving it for when that s what you want to read, and avoiding it if you don t like that sort of thing at all If you haven t liked any of Kay s previous work, this book won t convert you For the right mood, though, it s magic, unhampered by its few slight flaws. 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 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 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 fianc fit into the story There was one small episode, then they were dropped I wish there had been on Judit, Athelbert s sister. 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 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 from him in the future.www.fantasyliterature.com 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. As it is his custom the author continue his game with the creative use of real history in a fantastic environment This time it goes to Northern Europe, in the Viking era, giving us a story that reflects the climate of the time and the psychology of the people who lived then perhaps better than many historical novels This story, of course, belongs to the field of fantasy, which means that the presence of the metaphysical element is quite strong, but the author tries to narrate a realistic story based on the reality of that era and some of the historical events we know, with his well known beautiful writing which is full of emotion also in this book and gradually builds the tension to the exciting end The problem is that the relatively small size of the book and the fact that the author refuses to hurry in his narrative limits things somewhat, hindering the greater development of the very interesting ideas, so in the end I was somewhat unsatisfied, asking for something that was not given Nevertheless, even with these constraints, the author knows so well how to handle the language, knows so well how to play with the symbolisms, knows so deeply the cultural elements he remodels and, in general, knows how to narrate so well a story that is difficult to do not leave this book happy after a few hours of special enjoyment ,. 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 Isaved 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 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 two of them Kendra and Rhiannon 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 Part of it, I think, is that I m 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.