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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay

I recently read Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light of the Sun. (The book has a Wikipedia page, which gives a good summary of the plot, and the setting. There is also a Wikipedia page for Kay, and he has an authorized web site. He assisted Christopher Tolkien in preparing some of J. R. R. Tolkien's works for publication.

The book is a good read. I won't say much about the plot, but will say that the setting is a somewhat altered world, in the middle ages, with a Catholic-like religion, in what seems to be a Great Britain-like area, and with Viking-like characters. One thing that has been altered is that there are two moons, one of them blue. The title comes from the idea that the land which one of the major characters comes from, in the west, is the last place the sun shines on.

There are a Catholic-like religion, a Viking-like religion, and there are fairies and other spirit beings in the world Kay has sub-created. Some of Kay's characters are influenced by one religion, some by others, and many of them seem to realize that just because they believe in a monotheistic god does not mean that there might not be other, lesser, but real, and powerful spirit beings. A few parts of the story are told from the viewpoint of such a spirit being. One interesting facet of the book, in fact, is that several characters serve as the focal point in different parts of the narrative. In face, a couple of them only occur in the brief parts that center around them.

There are a lot of characters. Kay and the publisher did us a favor when they gave a listing in the front of the book. Unfortunately, they did not give us a map, which would have been useful. The characters, even some of the minor ones, are fully drawn, with emotions and history described well enough that we can get a good idea of what they are up to. Several of them fall in love in the course of the book.

I have previously posted about Juliet Marillier, who also wrote of this time period, and roughly the same area, although she doesn't fictionalize it as much as Kay. Both authors have strong, honorable characters who are Christian (or pseudo-Christian, in Kay's case) as well as strong, honorable characters who are pagans. There is a significant act of self-sacrifice, to the point of death, in Kay's book.

I hope to read more of Kay's work. Apparently, not all of it is in the same genre.

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