The Last Light of the Sun

The Last Light of the Sun

by Guy Gavriel Kay


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A powerful, moving saga evoking the Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norse cultures of a thousand years ago from the acclaimed author of The Fionavar Tapestry.

“A historical fantasy of the highest order, the work of a man who may well be the reigning master of the form.”The Washington Post Book World

Bern Thorkellson, punished for his father’s sins, denied his heritage and home, commits an act of vengeance and desperation that brings him face-to-face with a past he’s been trying to leave behind...

In the Anglcyn lands of King Aeldred, the shrewd king, battling inner demons all the while, shores up his defenses with alliances and diplomacy—and with swords and arrows. Meanwhile his exceptional, unpredictable sons and daughters give shape to their own desires when battle comes and darkness falls in the spirit wood...

And in the valleys and shrouded hills of the Cyngael, whose voices carry music even as they feud and raid amongst each other, violence and love become deeply interwoven when the dragon ships come and Alun ab Owyn, pursuing an enemy in the night, glimpses strange lights gleaming above forest pools...

Making brilliant use of motifs from saga and song and chronicle, Guy Gavriel Kay conjures a work of subtle, intricate richness, bringing to life an unforgettable world balanced on the knife-edge of change.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451459855
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2005
Series: Northland Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 215,956
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay is the international bestselling author of numerous fantasy novels including The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, Tigana, The Last Light of the Sun, Under HeavenRiver of Stars, and Children of Earth and Sky. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in the literature of the fantastic, and won the World Fantasy Award for Ysabel in 2008. In 2014 he was named to the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor. His works have been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

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Last Light of the Sun 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Ronin27 More than 1 year ago
I read "Under Heaven" by Kay and was simply amazed by the writing, characters, and setting... simply awed... could not buy another Kay book fast enough... "The Last Light of The Sun" reads in a very clunky, unpolished manner... shallow characters... does not seem like same writer...
Jeffrey Lambert More than 1 year ago
Although this book doesn't hold a candle to Kay's 'Lions of al-Rassan' it is still a very good book. Kay does a particularly good job creating a world that mirrors the history of European kingdoms and their struggles with the Norsemen of the age.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been a huge fan of Guy Gavriel Kay since the first time I read Tigana, after which I scoured bookstores to find anything else he'd written. I must agree with one of the other reviewers, in that I was disappointed. The poetry of his other works is missing and I wasn't as drawn in they way I have been with his other works. While I don't regret buying this book, I don't think it will win him many new loyal readers. If you're already a fan, I'm sure you'll read it anyway. If someone else recommended that you read Kay, start with any of this other novels and come back to this one once you're hooked. I would hate for anyone to start with this one and miss out on his other works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My copies of Kay¿s works are well-worn, well-read, and well-loved. 'The Last Light of the Sun' takes its place upon my shelf, but I do not feel as much affection for it as I do for his other works. The story is well told, the phrasing is flawless, and it is certainly enjoyable to read, but there is a certain flatness, a missing spark of magic that runs through most of his works. For lovers of Historical Fantasy, this is a must-read. For lovers of Kay¿s work, enjoy, but don¿t expect it to resonate as much as his other works.
justininlondon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Possibly the most disappointing of his books I've read. Very ambitious but ultimately unengaging. His approach to novels (call it historical fantasy, for want of a better description) works if it gives him the freedom to depart from reality and create a wonderful story. But if he fails on that, you start to wonder whether it was worth taking the gamble (ie. instead of straightforward fantasy or historical fiction). It didn't work for me at all in this one and I started to wonder why I keep reading his books. Only a couple have wowed me; the rest have been just OK.
lunacat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in The Northlands, a place somewhat akin to medieval Scotland, Wales or Ireland, this is a story of various people's beginnings or ends of their lives. Incorporating strong attributes from past historical cultures (Vikings, Anglo-saxons and Celts all appear and feature strongly) these lands are brutal and fierce.The characters are, as in most fantasy, all on a mission, either of revenge or redemption, salvation or forgiveness.There is Bern Thorkellson, punished for his father's crimes and out to find a better place for himself in this hard world. Alun ab Owyn, who has the title of 'heir' thrust upon him when his brother is killed. King Aeldred is desperate for his people to achieve education and a higher learning but has to deal with the threat of invasion and killing among his people.Within these main characters stories, there are many more, men and women, who are affected by their choices and behaviours as a threat looms over everything that they are all searching for. And then there are the faeries, that watch over this all.I was engrossed in the stories of the people from the word go, and whilst it read as a Norse legend, I didn't find it dissatisfying at all. Each hero had a flaw, each villain a motive and each person a chance to change what is, or should, be. The faerie elements are beautifully written and the ending both appropriate and well received. I also very much liked the way 'incidental' stories are slotted into the overall narrative, a highly enjoyable touch. The strong female characters were also much appreciated.Some people have said this isn't his best work but I found it engrossing and compelling. I appreciated the wildness of the setting, the tale that was being told and the people involved in it. If Tigana is supposed to be better, I can't wait to read it as this is already getting my top marks.In one line: Engrossing fantasy with deep characters, drawing on Norse and Celtic ideas.
trinibaby9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good, but not my favourite book of Kay's. I find that his newer material is really lacking in the development and pacing of his earlier works. There were definitely positive points to this book many of the individual characters are well developed. On the other hand some of the other prominent characters seem to be developed to no purpose. The small meandering side stories of the some of the minor or previously unintroduced characters was a bit annoying. The ending concept of everyone falling in love with someone or the other in a huge rush felt a little contrived as well. I was surprised as Kay is normally one who is not afraid to end on a note other than the fairy tale ending. This is a good read it's just not great and to be fair I am compairing this to his other works which were superb.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: The Last Light of the Sun takes place in the same world as Kay's Sarantium Mosaic and The Lions of Al-Rassad, although far to the North. It's a world like-but-not-quite Earth, and Last Light sits at a junction that's part Poetic Edda, part Beowulf, and part Arthurian legend. In this world, the Erling warriors in their longships have been conducting fierce raids on the coasts of the North for time out of mind, but the Anglcyn king has subdued them with a treaty that has held for decades. However, their uneasy peace is shattered by an unexpected nighttime raid on the inland household of one of Cyngael, the fractious principalities to the west of Anglcyn.Two princes of the Cyngael were present at that raid, and Alun ab Owyn is left in a dark despair after the death of his older brother and the loss of his soul. He rides with Cennion, the high cleric of the Cyngael, to Anglcyn, to warn the King - and his four intelligent but idle children - of the renewed danger. A separate storyline follows Bern Thorkellson, a young Erling whose father was exiled from their island home for murder. His life's hopes tainted by his father's crimes, Bern sets off for the mainland, seeking to join an elite group of mercenary fighters... but tensions with the Anglcyn are high, and mercenaries cannot always choose the motivations behind the jobs that they are given.Review: Guy Gavriel Kay writes like no one else I've ever read. He can take a scene that by any rights should be something fairly small - something that in another writer's hands would hardly register in my brain - and imbue it with such power that it reaches up and grabs you by the heart and the throat and steals your breath away when you are least expecting it. He's also incredibly adept at building his worlds and setting the scene with a remarkably small amount of description. One of the things I liked best about this book was how vividly it felt like I was in the middle of a Viking encampment or a Welsh farmstead, all without one word about the furniture or the dresses. Guy Gavriel Kay's writing is a large part of why his books typically take me a while to read. Not that the writing is particularly difficult or dense - although neither is it easy and light - but that it's got such power that I find myself wanting to take it slowly, to give myself time to roll around in it, to absorb it, to give it space to breathe.But... there's a but. While the writing in The Last Light of the Sun was as good as in any of Kay's other books, the story was not my favorite. It kept me interested, without a doubt, and didn't drag, but I also never really got particularly invested in it, either. I think it may have been due to the preponderance of characters. I prefer Kay's books more when they focus on one or a few main POV characters, while Last Light of the Sun had a substantial number of characters that wound up evenly sharing the narration. As a result, the story felt a bit scattered, with not enough time spent with any one character to build a proper emotional connection. Similarly, there were a number of story elements - Cennion's past, the Viking seer, Kendra's newfound gift - that didn't get as much development as they deserved. I still really enjoyed reading it, it just didn't quite have the resonance and oomph of Tigana or The Lions of Al-Rassan. 4 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: I say this every time I review one of Guy Gavriel Kay's novels, but it's a damn shame more people aren't reading them too. And not just fans of grown-up fantasy, either, but historical fiction fans as well, since apart from taking place in not-quite-Earth, these books are essentially historical fiction. Last Light of the Sun has more fantasy elements than most of his books (but less than, say, Tigana), but it's all of the folklore-ish variety - spirit woods with actual spirits in them, mostly. So, t
aprillee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the far north and west civilizations are primitive and brutal and attempting to cope with changes and their place in a larger, more connected world. At the farthest edges are the Erlings, raiders who have wrecked havoc upon countless coasts, ruling the seas in their dragon-prow ships. Young Bern Thorkellson's father had made his name and his wealth by raiding, but he'd bought a farm and settled on the small island of Rabady until too many drunken brawls and deaths caused him to be exiled and Bern sold into servitude. But Bern is angry that he's paying for his father's stupidity. He steals a horse and seizes his destiny, whatever that may be. Meanwhile, two young Cyngael brothers are following their long tradition of cattle-raiding their neighbors, even though the greater threat of the Erlings are roaming off their coasts. Unfortunately, they choose the wrong time and place and escape death once but not twice. And then there is the half-world, lingering still and strong, quite unlike the other lands Kay writes about, with magic mostly consigned to myth. Even here, the old ways are largely forgotten... only places like the spirit woods are avoided, but perhaps that's only because of natural hazards? But some people have the sight--they can see the beings of the woods, and they worry about their immortal souls.Finally, there are the Anglcyn, with King Aeldred trying to succeed as a warrior, defending his people from the Erlings, and also as a learned man, trying to bring his lands and his court into the wider world and into history. The Erlings, the Cygael, the Anglcyn and the last of the old beings and the fae are inter-twined in a tale of destiny, small and large, which is also just a part of a bigger picture of life history. In a way, there is nothing but personal stories going on; a boy angry at his father and forced to make his way in the world, a father who has gained the wisdom of age only in the 11th hour, brothers whose youth and love and status are not enough to keep them from grief and harm, a king with a destiny and a son who struggles in his father's shadow... They are still great and moving stories and form the core of this book. But all characters, even the most minor, have lives and tales and parts to play. It's an interesting thought, but I did feel that the main characters were sometimes short-shifted. This is still an excellent tale, with battles and brutality and attempts at glory. And some vestigial bits of magic, dark and alien. And the desire of man to build something more and be something more, even while excelling at destruction and surviving at the expense of others.All of Kay's books are well-crafted and worth reading. This one may not be his best (but that will depend on the reader--it is all taste in the end), but it was an engrossing and moving tale.
Karlstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very good story, but perhaps caught up a bit too much in the fact that it is a story. Sometimes it is written as the story were writing itself and the outcome were pre-ordained, but we don't know what it is. Even so, its a well written tale, with very engaging characters.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What can I say, an exceptionally good book by an author who is consistently good. There's a lot of depth to each of the characters and a wonderful story.
ShelfMonkey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The talent of fantasy writing can be a tricky thing. When it works, the reader effortlessly suspends disbelief, joyously transported to worlds of magic and power. Seasoned travelers through these realms include C.S. Lewis, Charles de Lint, Clive Barker, and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien.When it doesn¿t work, as is far too often the case, it is all so many water nymphs and ogres trudging through the ink, making a cheap buck though series such as Forgotten Realms and Dungeons & Dragons, the over-praised work of Robert Jordan, and others too tawdry to mention.Guy Gavriel Kay knows how to make it work. Highly regarded in the field as a master of fanciful storytelling with a deep interest in historical accuracy, the Canadian author has earned comparisons with both Lewis and Tolkien, even collaborating with Christopher Tolkien on the posthumous publication of his father¿s The Silmarillion.Now, decades after the release of his seminal work The Fionavar Tapestry (recently released in a 20th anniversary edition), Kay has decided to depart slightly from his oeuvre, concentrating instead on a historical fiction with muted elements of the fantastic. The change does him good; The Last Light of the Sun ranks as one of his finest.Last Light is set firmly in the Norse and Celtic traditions of the north, in a time where ¿axe and sword were perfectly good responses to treachery.¿ In a land balanced on the razor¿s edge of change, the peoples of the Anglcyn and the Cyngael live in a precarious form of peace, each struggling to prosper under the constant threat of murderous raids by the Erlings.Into this rich world Kay introduces a host of fascinating characters. Bern Einarson is a man new to the fraternity of mercenaries, while his absent father Thorkell has been taken prisoner. King Aeldred of the Anglcyn fights to keep his people free and thriving, while Ceinion, high cleric of the Cyngael, yearns to bring stability to a universe of fairy worship and an apocalyptic religious faith of giant serpents and world trees.With all due respect to J.R.R. Tolkien, Kay is by far the better writer. His atmospheric worlds equal Tolkien¿s Middle-Earth in complexity and wonderment, while his grasp of character development and dialogue far outpace the master¿s.Part of the gratification of well-designed fantasy is searching for significant parallels in the world beyond the page. Like the best of fantasy, analogous elements to Last Light¿s feudal world can be found in today¿s uneven mixture of political instability, religious factionalism, and cultural intolerance. Yet Kay is wise enough never to write his fables as polemic; they function equally as amusement and as social criticism, content to let the readers unwrap as many layers and motifs as they deem fit.The Last Light of the Sun is exhilarating entertainment, a bold trek to a land where one¿s finest wish is to die on one¿s feet. Kay, now a fantasy veteran, is a maestro of ¿the dance, the thrust and twist of words, of meanings half-shown and then hidden, that underlay all the great songs and deeds of courts.¿ The Last Light of the Sun, a taut and gripping novel, is a first-rate work, by any standard.
MuseofIre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in the same universe as his The Lions of Al-Rassan and The Sarantine Mosaic, this tale of conflict and change among the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, and Viking cultures has all of Kay's virtues in spades: the elegant prose, the effortless command of historical detail, the elegaic tone, the knack for making people come alive on the page in just a few lines. But it also has his flaws: the way he doesn't really know what to do with his characters once they're all set in motion, the lack of a satisfying ending. Kay especially indulges in too many literary tricks here, too many "had he but known what was going to happen, would he ever" set-ups, too many "oh, life is full of tragedies that stem from seemingly trivial choices" asides, too many "marginal character witnesses significant event" distractions. Though all beautifully depicted, there are too many characters, so that inevitably some get neglected. The three pairings ("romances" would be too positive a word) are so scantly written that none of them are really plausible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As usual, Mr Kay's prose is beautiful. But the plotting was tough to follow. He's got a lot of threads running through this weaving. And the individual stories are at least interesting, and some quite moving. And by the end, he manages to tie most if them up, some more satisfactorily than others, notably that of the two princes, Dai and Alun. But the story feels somewhat disjointed. A map would have gone a long way towards helping me to hold onto the various threads, and it is a curious abscence, as all of Kay's other works include maps. And this book seems to take place in the same setting, separated by centuries, as several of his other works. Worth reading if you are looking to immerse yourself completely in his world to better appreciate other books, such as The Lions of Al Rassan, or the Sarantine Mosaic duology.
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Looked up at the Imperator.
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Sighs and looks over at a bush. Sees blue eyes and pads over,curious
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Watch in the shadows
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