Monday, September 21, 2009

The Last Light Of The Sun

I'm down in Washington DC now, about to go visit a public school class that's read Gabriel's Story, and then tonight is the big gala ceremony. Should be fun, and nerve-wracking. While I'm busy with that stuff it occurred to me to post a blog I'd had cued up for a few weeks now. So here it is is:

It's always embarrassing to admit when I haven't read an author that I really, really should have read ages ago. One of those, for me, was Guy Gavriel Kay. I'd thoroughly enjoyed it when reviewers compared me to him when Acacia: The War with the Mein came out, but it was just one of many comparisons that didn't have anything to do with direct influence.

Anyway, I'd met him a couple of times before, and when I knew I was going to be on a panel with him at Worldcon I figured it was REALLY time to read the man. For no good reason at all, I chose The Last Light of the Sun. Very glad I did.

I enjoyed it a lot. I know it's different in many ways than his Fionvavar Tapestry books, but it was still a great introduction - for me in particular - to his work.

For one thing, I've enjoyed reading Anglo-Saxon and Norse tales in the past. I rather enjoyed Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Chronicles, and was impressed to see that Kay's rendering of this distant, violent world stands strong in comparison to it. For much of the novel it feels pretty much like a straight historical. Later on the Faerie influence becomes more pronounced, but in many ways the feats of prophecy and the interactions with the fantastic seem a natural product of the characters' culture and religious beliefs. Skillfully blended.

His writing was controlled and artistic, but also direct, muscular when it needed to be, and generally well crafted. I can't tell you how much that matters to me. So, I'm very glad to be a new fan of Mr. Kay's. I'll look forward to getting back to his other work soon.

Of course, at the moment I'm reading a lot of Wild Cards novels. Oh, and lots of student manuscripts... and a couple of graduate theses... and...

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Blogger Bryan Russell said...

Hey, that's not even one of his better novels. Fionavar is a little more traditional fantasy (transport to other worlds, Arthurian legends, etc.) and quite good, but his best books are probably The Lions of Al Rassan, A Song for Arbonne, and Tigana. I think the last one there is the best, frankly, and that it's really one of the best fantasy novels out there. Strong writing, with complex characters working through a morally complex story.

It's got my vote, anyway.

Bryan Russell

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Josiah Cadicamo said...

I haven't gotten to read him yet. . . he is on my "i will read when i get some money" list

I'm loving Kate Elliot right now pretty good stuff.

Waiting for otherlands as well (money syndrome again). O well

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Illia said...

Last Light of the Sun is actually sitting on my 'to read' shelf at the moment. I've been told to read his work and simply have not had a chance to get around to it just yet.

There are too many good books and not enough time, and lots of not so good books that makes the hunt time consuming before even reaching page one.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous TeichDragon said...

David, would you marry me?


Just kidding, but with your review on GGK and your recent thoughts on winning the John W. Campbell Award on suvudu, I have to admit I am officially your fanboy #1 in germany. (At least I think so... ;))

4:32 PM  
Blogger Mark Lavallee said...

Kay is the man. Really his work is why I even started reading, much less reading fantasy.

Reading any of his work is a treat, but if you happen to read "The Tapestry" be sure to check out Ysabel, as some characters from The Tapestry make an appearance here as well. ;)

The Sarantine Mosaic is also pretty good I've heard.


5:22 PM  
Blogger Nobu said...

Tigana is by far my favorite of his. Read it :)

11:18 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Nice to hear there's even better stuff to check out in the future.


Well, I remain happily married. No plans to change that. ;)

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Eddie C said...

The Lions of Al-Rassan is, I think, hands down his best book. And the best and only (hiding behind a very thin veil of secondary world fantasy) historical novel I can recall set during the spanish reconquista.

9:15 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Okay Eddie C,

I've noted your vote.

Oh, you to Noba. Looks like I've quite a bit of GGK reading to do. ;)

6:15 PM  

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