Saturday, January 2, 2010
Review: Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy Gavrial Kay is one of those authors I’ve heard nothing but good things about and have been meaning to check out but never got around to it. Until now that is. Having now read The Last Light of the Sun I can safely say that Kay is as good as they say he is.
The story follows a number of characters who share connections either through kinship or twists of fate. Alun ab Owyn, the younger son of a ruler, whose life is changed forever when his elder brother dies in a raid and he finds himself now his father’s heir. Consumed by a passion for revenge at the same time his faith is tested when he discovers that the fairies his ancestors believed in may be more than just stories. Ceinion one of the most renowned holy men in the land, saves Alun and his elder brother by an act of chance only to have the elder die soon after. Finds himself responsible for protecting the youngers’ life as well as his soul while trying to find a way to unite his people. Thorkell an aged raider who has his retirement spoiled when he kills a man in a fit of rage and is sent into exile. Forced to take up raiding again and he finds his life take another turn when he is captured on a raid. His son Bern, made a servant because of his father’s exile, he steals a horse and escapes seeking his own place among the raiders.
One of the themes of this novel is characters getting swept up in a tide of events larger than themselves. On a number of occasions a character would say something, either important or prophetic, and then wonder why they had said it. Almost as if an outside force is influencing them. It reminds me a bit of Homer’s Odyssey with the Gods running around in the background influencing events except in this case it is completely behind the scenes. Having mythical creatures like fairies in the story subtly reinforces this. Continuing along with this theme the reader is given a number of glimpses, usually a few pages long, into the thoughts of minor characters who either influence events or are profoundly influenced by them. Ironically enough in the end it becomes obvious one of the principal characters has played a role in another important event only vaguely related to the story but perhaps surpassing it. In terms of the actual characters themselves I enjoyed the distinction Kay made between the older and younger characters. He really conveyed the impression of how a persons view of the world can be altered by experience.
All in all I enjoyed my first foray into Kay’s work and will certainly read more from him in the future. 8.5/10.