March 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
columns - events - features - booksmedia        home  /  Join Mailing List

The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay
Roc / Penguin Putnam HCVR: ISBN 0451459652 PubDate: 03/02/04
Review by Don Smith

512 pgs. List price $ 24.95
Buy this book and support SFRevu at Amazon US / Amazon UK

If you take Stephen Kingís attention to detail, Stephen Lawheadís Byzantium, a near Shakespearian plot, and the best narration and story telling in a while, you have The Last Light of the Sun.

Kay takes the reader on a journey Ė introducing them first to the pragmatic Arabic trader, Firaz ibn Bakir who has just pulled into the port of the Norse colony, Rabady. Bakir has found out that Rabadyís governor has died. And, is the custom, the governorís is to be laid out on a raft and set ablaze. The governorís horse is needed for the ceremony also, to be set ablaze so the governor can have something to ride in the After-life.

Problem Ė the governorís horse has been stolen and a stable boy, Bern, is no where to be found. When "two and two is put together," it is an all out chase for the Bern and the governorís missing horse. According to custom, the governorís ghost will wander the land bringing misery and misfortune if he has no horse to take with him in the after life.

When Bern is brought into the story, we find that he is trying to take a small measure of revenge for the governorís past actions. Accused of murder, Bernís father was exiled into another land while his mother and lands all became property of the governor. Looking for a way out, Bern is forced to team up with Bakir on a journey that is, of course like all good fantasy novels, wrought with any type of peril, one can think.

What is notable about Kayís writing is how his spare sentences come together to form a complex tapestry of words, ideas, and thoughts that one can not help but see a brilliant and vibrant picture. It has been said, that when writers write characters, each of the characterís is either a smaller or a larger reflection of that author. He brings each character to such brilliant life, they are almost real. You can sense that Bern and Bakir are a part of Kay, but they are also distinct individuals.

Kay also spends a great deal of time playing with "ancient deities," not just the Norse but of the Arabic (before Islam) and of the Anglcyn (which were one of the ancient races of Britain). The author also weaves together from history, documents and his own imagination what the day to day life and chores were like for the people of this time Ė which is not all that different from us here today. They wanted to make a living for their family, please their object of worship (gods), pray for peace and happiness, which (especially this day and age in the United States) is not that far from accurate.

But like in the real world "All good things come to those who wait." Hopefully, we wont have to wait too long.

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
columns - events - features - booksmedia        home  /  Join Mailing List