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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 Review: The Last Light of the Sun
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 Cindy Lynn Speer

Many people come together in this story, set in the Norse-Celtic-Saxon inspired Northlands, where Erlings raid and fight, and peace is a tenuous dream. There is Bern Thorkellson, who lost everything and was made a slave when his father killed a man over a game. He decides to steal the fine horse that is about to be burned in the morning with its dead master. It is a foolish thing to do on such a small island, but a young woman's advice saves him from the trickery of the local wise-woman and sends him on his path. He'll become a mercenary and eventually to be reunited with his father. But before this happens, Thorkell Einarson, his father, will be part of a raid that ends up killing young Cyngael Prince Dai ob Owyn. A creature of old magics steals the warrior's soul to join her Queen's court and is ensnared by Dai's younger brother Alun, who can now, for some reason, see her. These and more will come together at the good king Aeldred's court. Ivarr Ragnarson, a cowardly mad man, has hired mercenaries to help him avenge the death of his grandfather, and everyone who knows Aeldred will be in danger.

The Last Light of the Sun is a richly detailed world, extremely familiar, but not quite our own. The gods they worship are not the ones of our world, the names of the places familiar, but not the names we use. The text is also very saga-like. Guy Gavriel Kay uses words and names that sound Viking-like (or Celtic, or Anglican) and combined with the way he writes his narrative it makes it feel very old fashioned. This familiarity enriches the setting, making it more dense when combined with the details of everyday life, from songs to the silly games they play to the details of the long ships and the exciting combat scenes. The old people are quite Fae like, especially in their propensity to steal whatever mortals they find attractive, while the fact that they have to be the first soul fallen in battle on the night of the blue moon makes it folkloric. I love the combination of fact and fiction because you get the solid feel of historical fact overlaid with the wonder of fantasy.

At first I felt that in some ways there was almost too many people, each with their own personality, their own goals, their own ways of reaching said goals. You get to the point where you've spent enough time with them to be thoroughly involved, and truly care what happens to them, and then you're moving on to the next person. I soon realized that his point isn't the individuals so much as the whole forest. Each character is a thread in a huge, complex tapestry, and once you start forcing yourself not to see the individual adventure, as I often do, but how the few moments add to the whole of the feel of the book, to what the eventual goal will be, you really begin to appreciate the care with which Kay has created these people. It's much more complex than my summary permits, so many interesting people add a lot to the story.

While I think that anyone would enjoy The Last Light of the Sun, this extremely evocative tale will strike a special cord with people who enjoy ancient European history such as those who enjoyed Cecelia Holland's The Soul Thief, for instance, will really like this story.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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