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The Last Light of the Sun
Guy Gavriel Kay
Viking Canada, 512 pages

The Last Light of the Sun
Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy Gavriel Kay was born in Weyburn and raised in Winnipeg. In 1974-75, he assisted Christopher Tolkien with the editing of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. Guy Kay studied law at the University of Toronto and was admitted to the Bar in Ontario in 1981. He worked both as script consultant and principal writer for CBC Radio's award-winning series The Scales of Justice. He and his family live in Toronto.

Guy Gavriel Kay Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Interview: A Conversation With Guy Gavriel Kay
SF Site Review: Beyond This Dark House: Poems
SF Site Review: Lord of Emperors
SF Site Review: Sailing to Sarantium
SF Site Review: The Lions of Al-Rassan
SF Site Interview: A Conversation With Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy Gavriel Kay Tribute Site
Guy Gavriel Kay Interview

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

Holding a bewildering array of worlds in one's head is one of the things that writers do, that's part of the job description, and with fantasy it's more pertinent than most because the worlds in question can be so very different from the one we are used to seeing around us every day. But holding multiplicities of worlds in one's mind is something that Guy Gavriel Kay has already transcended -- he's been there, done that, issued readers' visas for a number of different and equally fascinating spheres of otherworldliness.

But he has done more than this. If there is anything more difficult that holding many alternate worlds in one's head, it's the holding of just ONE -- one other world, parallel to this one, perhaps, honed to a cohesiveness and a clarity that is rarely found even in so-called mainstream novels which rely on the reader's intimate knowledge of their everyday existences.

The Last Light of the Sun is a book set in the same geographical milieu as a number of Kay's earlier works such as The Lions of Al-Rassan and the Sarantium Mosaic (Lord of Emperors and Sailing to Sarantium). The parameters established in those earlier books are faithfully nurtured in this one, the book Kay has called his "Northern novel" -- but in this book he has decided to visit a corner of that milieu that is far more raw and earthy than the rarefied decadence of a Sarantine Empire or the complex mix of arts, politics and high drama that characterised Al-Rassan. As the blurb of The Last Light of the Sun has it, "...there is nothing soft or silken about the north." This is a place which is far more on the edge of survival, the edge of the world. This is the place where the "last light" of the title falls, the furthermost glow cast by the god named Jad. But under that glow, as usual with Kay's novels, many others are casting their own light or shadow -- gods, faerie folk, ordinary people (be they crofters or kings).

Kay melds history, magic and fantasy with an easy grace. What comes through his words is a sense that he believes that history is not made up of the sweeping epic history books written after some grand battle by the victorious nations. Rather, history is woven from the small things, the things that happen to and are done by the people who live under the cloak of great events. People like the handful of characters who pass through the pages of The Last Light of the Sun without doing anything much to alter the course of the book -- except carry some trace of events that have rolled across them, and allow such memories to shape their own dreams and thoughts and fears -- and thus the further course of history of which they are so fundamental a part. Everything is history -- every thought, every dream, every prayer, just as much if not more so than the looming shapes of hungry empires on the horizon. History is not decided by battles, or at least not by battles alone. Kay can see the beat of the wings of that butterfly which causes the mountains to fall down on the far side of the world, and he uses these secondary characters (many of whom never even meet his main protagonists) to shape that fall.

It's another vivid, complex fantasy from Kay's pen. There is the usual sense that there is more, so much more, in the background of this story than the reader has been told -- the sense of glimpsing a few shining threads in a larger tapestry. A book to savour.

Copyright © 2004 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Following her successful two-volume fantasy series, Changer of Days, her latest novel, Jin-shei, is due out from Harper San Francisco in the spring of 2004.

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