This is probably my favourite series of books of all time.
Over Sea Under Stone is aimed at the youngest audience of the five books, but it's still rea...moreThis is probably my favourite series of books of all time.
Over Sea Under Stone is aimed at the youngest audience of the five books, but it's still readable and the prose is lovely. The characters are instantly recognisable as children, rather than the mini-adults some writers make children, and they're easy to identify with. If nothing else, you have to be charmed by Barney. There's real suspense in this book: if your heart isn't in your mouth while Barney and Simon are crawling through the tunnel, you have no soul. More detailed review here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
The Dark Is Rising, the second book, seems to be for a bit older audience. It constantly amazes me how well even minor characters, like Paul Stanton, are developed. Will Stanton is both human and alien -- as he should be. His coming of age rings very true: one moment he's accepting his power, but the next he's still a young boy setting fire to things. I have a more detailed review here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
Greenwitch is the shortest book. It's the one I think of as focusing more on Jane -- I got to care about her more in this one. Again, the characters are amazingly believable, and there's real tension and suspense. Longer review here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
The Grey King is lovely. It introduces the final member of the Six, Bran Davies. It's also set in Wales, which naturally endears it to me. The characters in this book are all believable and spectacular. And the very end, where Owen and Bran stand together, brings a lump to my throat every time. Proper review here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
Silver On The Tree is the final book. Everything comes together here. More tension, more glorious characters -- and a wonderful ending that kinda makes me want to kill Susan Cooper for what she's done to some of my favourite characters. Full review here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
The background mythology is extremely interesting and drawn from all parts of the UK. The movie stripped all of this away, among other things, so I boycotted it.
(Sorry my html wasn't working; the links would've looked more elegant...)(less)
I love this trilogy. It could be badly done: writing about Arthur from the point of view of someone completely invented? But it works, and you come to...moreI love this trilogy. It could be badly done: writing about Arthur from the point of view of someone completely invented? But it works, and you come to care about Derfel.(less)
This book continues the series. The first time I read the trilogy, I stumbled on it, but I see nothing wrong with it now. I love the characters, and I...moreThis book continues the series. The first time I read the trilogy, I stumbled on it, but I see nothing wrong with it now. I love the characters, and I love the layers of (likely accurate) detail.(less)
This makes a lovely ending to the trilogy. The only thing I don't really like about the trilogy is the portrayal of Lancelot: he's a real slimeball, a...moreThis makes a lovely ending to the trilogy. The only thing I don't really like about the trilogy is the portrayal of Lancelot: he's a real slimeball, and you come to hate him. The rest of it is lovely, and well done for something that introduces a character that wasn't even the hint of a footnote in the legends, something entirely new, and then makes that character central.(less)
I love this book, and I've read it so often. The concept is amazing, and I love all the little details. It kind of makes me want to go to America on a...moreI love this book, and I've read it so often. The concept is amazing, and I love all the little details. It kind of makes me want to go to America on a road trip...(less)
I have no idea why, but I didn't like this book anywhere near as much as American Gods. It's still interesting and fun to read, but... there's a diffe...moreI have no idea why, but I didn't like this book anywhere near as much as American Gods. It's still interesting and fun to read, but... there's a different tone, definitely.(less)
I've posted a general review of the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy before, here, but I never felt that quite cut it. So this a review of the first book, Th...moreI've posted a general review of the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy before, here, but I never felt that quite cut it. So this a review of the first book, The Summer Tree, and separate reviews of the rest of the trilogy will follow. It's worth looking at my overview of the trilogy, too, because I'm not going to repeat all of it, necessarily.
Firstly, the trilogy does seem very derivative, mostly of Tolkien, although me and my mother once went through spotting myriads of possible influences. There are great points of similarity between this trilogy and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, but there are differences. The mythology is much more plainly taken from ours -- as is appropriate, given the idea that Fionavar is the true plane and our world one of many reflections -- and woven very deeply into the whole story. So much relies upon the gods, rituals belonging to the gods, etc, even though mortals are the ones taking actions. Gods are rather less present in Tolkien, particularly in Lord of the Rings. It's also quite a lot shorter.
Not that it doesn't pack a punch. In three hundred pages, I'm as invested in these characters as I ever am in Frodo. More about that in a minute.
It's not exactly perfect, even though I think it's powerful. The first few chapters don't really catch my attention, and seem kind of like a Mary Sue fanfic. The prose is a little odd, sometimes, sometimes rather closer to poetry, which I didn't like at first. If you go with it, it's fine, or so I found.
The characters were my main draw, really. Paul and Kevin in particular: Kevin's love for Paul, his yearning and desperation; Paul's helplessness, hardness, coldness, grieving, selfishness, selflessness. I feel their relationship very strongly. Diarmuid arouses mixed feelings in me: I know I didn't like him the first time I read it, but this time through, I read it with sympathy for him. This trilogy definitely doesn't suffer from rereads, for me, probably benefits from it because I'm already invested, despite the (to my mind) weak beginning.
The setting is another draw. The blending of mythology is lovely and appropriate.
It's also amazing how much gets set up for later. Tabor, Jennifer, Matt, Leila, Jaelle... Reading it now, and knowing how things go, I'm amazed at how well everything is set up in this book.
I can understand the beginning being a turn-off, but give it chance. It has a charm and a draw of its own. I feel like this review only began to touch on how much I love these books and why. Just for one more illustration... The Summer Tree is one of the few books that makes me choke up every time. The rest of the trilogy is also on that list. I find the writing extremely powerful, despite the first-novel pitfalls.
Reread again in February 2010. Must note again how much this book affects me -- and more every time, I think, the more I care about the characters. One thing I did notice this time, and I think a greater flaw than the ones that are easier to pick out, is the oddness of the scene with Paul and Rachel in the car. Everywhere else, Rachel's spoken of with a lot of love, and yet in this scene I totally don't understand her and her motivations for speaking to Paul the way she does. I understand the situation, and Paul's bitter reactions, but Rachel's dialogue feels more like a scene from a soap opera to me. I think it could've been more effective if the love was still there, from her, more strongly, and if she hadn't said things that made her sound awful.
Still, that scene is, at most, three pages long -- hardly a major flaw.(less)
The second book of the Fionavar Tapestry feels by far the shortest, to me. That isn't to say not much happens -- a lot does happen, so much that it ma...moreThe second book of the Fionavar Tapestry feels by far the shortest, to me. That isn't to say not much happens -- a lot does happen, so much that it makes my head spin a little, but it feels quite short. Possibly because my copy is both slim and has bigger writing than the other books, which are both thicker and have tiny writing. Anyway!
The Wandering Fire really introduces the Arthurian thread, which is the newest thing. It's been hinted at and set up already in The Summer Tree, but it's in The Wandering Fire that that's finally articulated. I'm interested as to how much Guy Gavriel Kay has drawn on existing Arthurian legend and how much he has built himself. I haven't read anything about Arthur being punished over and over again -- he's generally portrayed as fairly virtuous -- and I've never read anything about Lancelot raising the dead. I do like the way the legend is constructed here -- differences to the usual main themes and stories, but using them and showing that the stories we have are supposed to be reflections and echoes of this 'reality'.
I love the fact that the gods aren't supposed to act and there are penalties for this... and actually more of the lore about the gods in this world, like Dana working in threes and her gifts being two-edged swords.
The death in this book makes me cry... not the actual death, at least not until the very last line of that section, but the reactions, and particularly Paul's. This isn't really surprising, but it highlights once again how much these books make me care.
Reread again in February 2010. It's amazing to me how much I can love almost every word of this book and yet find a small scene was horribly jarring -- it's the same in The Summer Tree, just one scene sticks in my throat and won't go down. It's the scene with Kim and Loren, at Maidaladan. It just doesn't make sense. There's no build to it. I always thought she should go to Aileron instead... now there's a build-up that makes at least some sense.
Nonetheless, wow. This book breaks me more every time.(less)
The final book of the Fionavar Tapestry is, unsurprisingly, the longest. After the long build up of the first two books, the war finally really gets u...moreThe final book of the Fionavar Tapestry is, unsurprisingly, the longest. After the long build up of the first two books, the war finally really gets underway. It's still very Lord of the Rings, with all the races joining up and wars and a lone person making his way into the heart of darkness, etc. In another way, it's completely not like Lord of the Rings at all. For one thing, not everyone lives. Boromir aside, most of the main characters in Lord of the Rings survive. Not so with Fionavar. Guy Gavriel Kay, as I have observed before, does not go gently. I kind of want to shake him and curse him, at the same time as admiring what he does with it, and how much he's made me care about the characters.
There are also some beautiful, fitting conclusions that make me very happy.
There are also some rather strange conclusions that baffle me. I think I've observed before that GGK is not so great with intentional romance. I don't feel Paul and Jaelle at all, for example -- I can see what he tries to do with them, and I understand why he thinks they'd be suited to each other in one way, but when it comes down to it, I really don't feel anything about them getting together. Same thing with the hint of romance between Kim and Dave (that follows through into Ysabel). Just... why? Where's it coming from? And yet something that could have been good, like Kim and Aileron -- don't tell me I was the only one? -- doesn't happen at all. These, however, are minor flaws.
Throughout the trilogy, GGK's writing is beautiful. Some of the scenes in this book are so very vivid that they stick in even my very-much-not-visual kind of brain. The image of Leyse floating down to the sea, for example. The death scenes are all lovely in a painful way, especially (for me) the one after the large urgach has been killed. They're like punches in the gut.
I still don't feel like my reviews have managed to capture how much I love this trilogy. Forget the flaws: I love it. I love the characters and the world, and the writing. If you can't get past the flaws, fair enough, but there is a real gem here, I think.
Reread in February 2010. Loved, more than ever, wept over, also probably more than ever. I was reluctant to read the last ten pages because that means my glorious weekend of visiting Fionavar is over. I'm sure I'll be back before too long, though. Fionavar is very rereadable, as I've proved this weekend. It's this, the fact that it breaks me anew every time and makes me love it more than ever, that gets these three books five stars. There are definitely flaws, things that jar, things that don't quite work -- I'm still utterly baffled at the romantic conclusions, and why the hell does Sharra disappear from the narrative the minute her romantic plot ends? -- but it draws me back in every single time.(less)
Lovely! Robin Hood legends are glorious. I meant to reread this while I was doing a module on Robin Hood -- it was mentioned during the course, if I r...moreLovely! Robin Hood legends are glorious. I meant to reread this while I was doing a module on Robin Hood -- it was mentioned during the course, if I remember rightly. Must revisit it soon, with my new/deeper knowledge of the traditions.(less)
I can never remember whether I've read all of this or not, but a quick scanning says yes. I remember liking it, but not much about it. Rereading seems...moreI can never remember whether I've read all of this or not, but a quick scanning says yes. I remember liking it, but not much about it. Rereading seems in order!(less)
Since I'm hoping that the module on King Arthur will run next year, and reading widely in the tradition help...more**spoiler alert** Reread in February 2010.
Since I'm hoping that the module on King Arthur will run next year, and reading widely in the tradition helped me with the Robin Hood module, I decided to revisit these books. As I said in my review almost two years ago, I'm not really one for romance books, generally, but these are Arthurian -- which helps a lot, since it's something I'm always interested in -- and they're not exactly bodice-rippers, and I do like Sarah Zettel's writing. There's genuinely a plot alongside the romance -- at least in this first book of the four -- and earlier elements of the tradition are woven into the story, while it's also not quite a carbon copy. It could have deviated more from the tradition, easily, and perhaps been more engaging then, but this is interesting enough. I like the portrayal of Guinevere, very much in love with Arthur, and though she's mischievous, she's a good queen. If I remember rightly, the betrayal of Arthur with Lancelot isn't re-enacted in this quartet, which I quite like. That's something new. And I like this portrayal of Gawain, as compared to some quite loutish ones I've read before.
It's interesting how close it sticks to the plot of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which I'm doing a module on at the moment. I hadn't read that the first time I read this, so I didn't really appreciate how it had taken that plot but also woven in the women, Rhian and Kerra, and how it's also woven in the story of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell -- which I haven't read, but I know a decent amount about.
It's nice that there's an overarching plot to these four romances, with the figure of Morgaine, about whom we learn little in this book. It's also nice that they're romances in both the medieval sense and the modern sense. At least, it is for my inner geek.
I'm not much for romances, but I did enjoy these books. They center around the sons of Morgause, which in this case means Gawain, Geraint, Gareth and Agravain, in that order. They're all romances, so the lead characters are girls somewhat rooted in legends surrounding the boys -- except Elen, who I couldn't find any mythological basis for (but that was only on a quick search). Rhian for Gawain (Ragnelle), Elen for Geraint, Lynet for Gareth (Lynette), and Laurel for Agravain (Lyonesse).
The books individually tell the stories of how the brothers come to meet their brides, and put together tell the story of Camelot's fight against Morgaine, Arthur's sister (commonly known as Morgan Le Fay). I don't think they adhere to any plot previously set out for Arthur, but there are little references and similarities throughout. Guinevere, for example, is faithful to Arthur, but at one point Morgaine impersonates her and has sex with Lancelot. Mordred also plays a part, the son of Morgaine and Arthur, but ultimately doesn't seem that important to the plot.
As an Arthur retelling, it's interesting. There's lots of the pagan magic mixed in with the bright and shining Camelot and Christianity, which is an intriguing mix. The writing itself is quite good: descriptive enough to call pictures into one's mind, but not weighed down with it.
Unfortunately -- considering it's a series of Arthurian romances! -- the romance falls fairly flat to me. Knight meets lady in need and falls in love. Lady meets knight and falls in love. Unfaithful womanising knight becomes faithful (Gawain and Gareth). Beautiful woman gets through the coldness and silence (Geraint/Elen and Agravain/Laurel). The love seems to come quick as fairytales, and happily ever after seems inevitable. All the men have to do stuff to bring their ladies back after the lady's bold and noble sacrifice -- Gawain stands up to the test of the Green Knight, Geraint kills something important while fearing the worst, Gareth gives his life to Lynet to bring her back from the sea, Agravain uses Excalibur's scabbard to bring Laurel back from the sea. It all seems a bit formulaic.
It also seems a little... unfinished. At the end of Agravain's story, Morgaine is dead, but Mordred has fled. A prophecy remains that Mordred will kill Arthur. But the epilogue deals only with Sir Kai's death, and doesn't say anything about where Mordred went and how that prophecy pans out. It's true, though, that the story doesn't focus on Arthur but on the knights.
The books are easy to read, hard to put down and probably enough to keep someone interested. I got into the world and the relationships despite their flaws, and I'll probably reread the books someday. I think Sarah Zettel's Isavalta books are a much better introduction to her writing, though. They're more original and flow much more easily, with characters that are much less formulaic. I think I partially blame the flaws of the Camelot series on the fact that she's writing in a tradition that's centuries old. Sometimes that makes people not dare to be more creative.(less)
See the first book of this series, Camelot's Shadow, for my full review of this series.
Reread in February 2010.
The first time I read this series, I wa...moreSee the first book of this series, Camelot's Shadow, for my full review of this series.
Reread in February 2010.
The first time I read this series, I wasn't all that impressed. There are still things I'm not so keen on -- the love at first sight, for one thing, doesn't ring very true, and also the books could do with better proofreading. There's punctuation missing, and I'm pretty sure "grieves" and "greaves" don't mean the same thing. But, this time, I found myself a lot more interested. I preferred Geraint to Gawain, I think, and I was interested in him and his feelings about his relationship to Morgaine, and his way of dealing with his legacy from his father -- and his love for Elen.
I don't know if the story of Elen and Geraint is based on any legend, Arthurian or otherwise, although I suspect that the story of Gwiffert, at least, has some kind of link to existing mythology. Still, it's nice to see a lot of mythology together and coupled to the Arthurian mythology, to make something new. The ongoing story of Morgaine is interesting, too: I can't actually remember very well how that's resolved, and I forgot that she seemed genuinely in love with Urien.
I originally didn't like Elen much, but there is something compelling about her, too, and her struggle, and Collanau. I wished the book had more about the Lord, the Lady, and Elen's family. As far as I remember, the Lord and the Lady don't come into it again, which is a shame.
Edit: Erec and Enide is, of course, where I think this comes from. It doesn't follow it directly in plot, but I think the idea of the bird came from there.(less)
See the first book of this series, Camelot's Shadow, for my full review of this series.
Reread in February 2010.
I'm liking all of these books in my sec...moreSee the first book of this series, Camelot's Shadow, for my full review of this series.
Reread in February 2010.
I'm liking all of these books in my second reading. It's interesting to see all the different threads of Arthurian myth and Celtic myth brought together in this way -- this book especially weaves so many things together: Tristan and Iseult, Lyonesse (Laurel) and Lynet, Lancelot and Guinevere, Morgaine, the Celtic Otherworld... I think I'm focusing a lot more on that, in this reading, instead of on the romance -- which isn't actually as central as I thought. It could do with more time spent on it, actually, because Gareth's transformation from a womaniser into Lynet's faithful knight is very hasty and not really given the time and space it should be. Perhaps the scene on the moor could've been expanded -- another fifty pages would probably have made the love story much more engaging and satisfying. There were some parts of the relationship with Ryol that were glossed over a bit too much -- that was closer to the centre of the story, I think, and didn't suffer too much, but there were a few places where I wondered why the heck it was happening like that. For example, how did Guinevere figure out that the mirror was the problem? Whence came her sudden decision to confiscate it?
One thing that is becoming clear to me is that the relationships aren't as cookie-cutter as I thought, my first time through. The relationships between Gawain and Rhian, Geraint and Elen, Gareth and Lynet... they're much more distinct than I thought at first, and the brothers are less alike than they thought at first. I'm not sure why I thought them so cookie-cutter the first time through, actually. Possibly because all the romance is that bit hastier than I'd like. Possibly I'm a slightly more discerning reader. Possibly my taste has just changed!
I really wish this book had received a little more attention from a proofreader. The little nags I have about grammar and punctuation are really little. For the most part I like the writing. But it's so distracting to keep thinking, "But where is the comma?"(less)
See the first book of this series, Camelot's Shadow, for my full review of this series.
Reread in February 2010.
I really love this book. I don't rememb...moreSee the first book of this series, Camelot's Shadow, for my full review of this series.
Reread in February 2010.
I really love this book. I don't remember how strongly I felt about it the first time, but I have a thing for second sons in fiction, second sons like Agravain -- the quieter, grimmer ones, the dutiful ones with their hidden passions and their determinations. Agravain is a perfect example, and it's also interesting that in this story, he and Laurel fall in love after their marriage, which comes of necessity and politics more than anything else. The four romances are much more differentiated than I remembered. In this one, I genuinely felt pain for Agravain and Laurel when they were separated, which is possibly because I found their situation more real.
The romance is still a little hurried in places, but I do like what we get of it. I also love the magic of this -- Laurel's magic, as she becomes unafraid and throws herself into it, doing what she has to do. I like how a lot of hints come together -- the stain on Guinevere's palm, for one thing, just that one tiny repeated detail finally finding meaning and explanation. Not something I noticed, on a single reading.
I found this somewhat unsatisfying as an end, the last time I read it. Morgaine is defeated, but Mordred is not killed, he flees. Reading it again, his defeat is pretty conclusive, and he runs like a child, but mostly I'm reminded of the fact that it's still prophesied that he will bring down Camelot, and the threat of him isn't neutralised at all. In one way, ending like this is very appropriate, because the quartet follows the sons of Lot, not the court of Arthur -- but the court of Arthur and the importance of Arthur's kingdom is important throughout the books, so it's kind of odd that it ends without a real conclusion for that.(less)
I read Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe when I was very young, so reading it again now for a class was quite interesting. It was odd how much I remembered o...moreI read Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe when I was very young, so reading it again now for a class was quite interesting. It was odd how much I remembered once I actually got started -- and strange the things that I didn't remember, like the fact that Robin Hood is in it!
Reading it now, halfway through the course, it staggered me how very typical it is of a Robin Hood text, and how much it reminded me of Chaucer, too. It's like some bizarre cross between an Arthurian text (with all the jousting and the knights) and a Robin Hood text. This is the first one I've read for this course which makes it a Saxon vs. Norman issue, which is interesting.
It was so strange reading this and, for the first time, feeling like I couldn't turn off the critical English Literature student part of me. I keep wanting to ramble on about the king and subject aspects, or the criticism of the clergy, or...
I actually really enjoyed it. It's one of the first books I read completely on my ereader, so I suppose the aspect of playing with a new gadget helped, but I found it really easy to read and be absorbed in, even if it is -- by modern standards -- quite wordy. The people who think it's Old English baffle me.* I don't think I had to look up any of the vocabulary in Ivanhoe.
In terms of the action and characters, Ivanhoe himself isn't terribly interesting. Oh, sure, he's virtuous and a good knight and the title would make you think he's the main character, but he isn't. The most interesting characters were probably King Richard, Rebecca and Cedric. Rebecca got a little irritating after a while, with it always talking about how utterly perfect she was, but at least she was more interesting than Ivanhoe. The tension between her and Ivanhoe was also interesting -- more so than the love story between Rowena and Ivanhoe.
Interested to see what my lecturer has to say about it; I'll probably write my essay on Ivanhoe.
*This is Old English (Anglo-Saxon): In ðeosse abbudissan mynstre wæs sum broðor syndriglice mid godcundre gife gemæred ond geweorðad, forþon he gewunade gerisenlice leoð wyrcan, þa ðe to æfestnisse ond to arfæstnisse belumpon, swa ðætte swa hwæt swa he of godcundum stafum þurh boceras geleornode, þæt he æfter medmiclum fæce in scopgereorde mid þa mæstan swetnisse ond inbryrdnisse geglængde ond in Engliscgereorde wel geworht forþ brohte. For example.(less)
There doesn't actually seem to be anything new brought to the legend by this story. Okay: it's a supposedly feminist sort of take on it, but... It kin...moreThere doesn't actually seem to be anything new brought to the legend by this story. Okay: it's a supposedly feminist sort of take on it, but... It kind of undermines that anyway with how whiny Guenevere is a lot of the time. I don't find any of the characters all that likeable, even if I can see why they are the way they are. I'm still going to read the third book of the trilogy, but...(less)
This is an interesting take on the legend, and written well enough that I got through it fairly quickly when I wasn't concentrating on other books. A...moreThis is an interesting take on the legend, and written well enough that I got through it fairly quickly when I wasn't concentrating on other books. A little too much purple prose-y sex for my liking, but that sort of came with the territory.(less)
I loved some of the poems in here a lot. The title poem, for example, with lines like, "Lo, I shall live to conquer Greece again!", and Guenevere, "Al...moreI loved some of the poems in here a lot. The title poem, for example, with lines like, "Lo, I shall live to conquer Greece again!", and Guenevere, "All this grows bitter that was once so sweet,/And many mouths must drain the dregs of it./But none will pity me, nor pity him/Whom Love so lashed, and with such cruel thongs."
Some of the poems -- particularly the "Love Songs" part -- got repetitive. But each on their own is lovely.(less)
Numerous times when reading these three books, I declared to anyone listening that if there was another purple prose sex scene or another scene in whi...moreNumerous times when reading these three books, I declared to anyone listening that if there was another purple prose sex scene or another scene in which Guenevere makes an irrational outburst, I'd actually burn the books. I never have yet, but I came very close to just getting out a box of matches and doing it.
I'm not quite sure why I even bothered reading the whole trilogy. Stubbornness, I suppose. And it is readable enough -- once I put my mind to it, I could read great chunks of the books in one sitting. But the characterisation is erratic and inconsistent, and it doesn't really bring anything new to the Arthurian legends. It's supposed to be a feminist take on the legend, or so I read, but Guenevere's behaviour makes it seem rather the opposite to me.
I do not recommend. And I'm changing my star ratings on the other two books, I think.(less)
I've read all the rest of Guy Gavriel Kay's fiction since I read this the first time. It's definitely not my favourite. The...moreReread 30th November, 2009.
I've read all the rest of Guy Gavriel Kay's fiction since I read this the first time. It's definitely not my favourite. The writing style doesn't quite seem so smooth and easy -- there's something a bit dictatorial about his writing in places in this book, so that instead of letting us make observations, he's handing them to us pre-packaged and not letting us do so much work. I don't remember that in his other books, but it struck me quite strongly, rereading The Last Light of the Sun. It's funny: I think I like The Last Light of the Sun more than I did the first time I read it, and yet I have more criticisms. For example, I don't think I got to know and love the characters as much as I did in, say, the Fionavar Tapestry, or Tigana. GGK can tug on my heartstrings with the best of them -- probably is the best of them -- and I did feel it, in this book. Alun was a character I found compelling because the Cyngael are so obviously Welsh. I tried to sympathise with him, really wanted to, but so often he was too cold and presumptuous... I wish that Judit had been more of a character; I think she would've been fun. I found her a sympathetic character.
I found that the end wrapped everything up a bit too neatly, too. Alun marries Kendra, Bern goes home and marries the girl bitten by a snake (and to my shame, I can't remember her name, I found her that much of a non-character -- she, too, could have been more compelling), Thorkell dies, Alun gets to free Dai... all of it. I wish there'd been more attention paid to the raggedy-ends -- Thira, Bern's whore, or Hakon, the Erling who loved Kendra, Rhiannon... It feels like all the threads are resolved with a bit of handwaving. I wanted more. But then, I always do, with GGK.
I don't know how I feel about the portrayal of the Welsh (yeah, yeah, Cyngael, but we know what he means) in this book. It certainly doesn't anger me, certainly.
Read 25th July, 2008.
I really, really liked The Last Light Of The Sun. Some things about it were predictable, but that's not a new thing for me when I read fantasy. Some of the things were predictable but I never figured out how they would come about. I really love the melding of different cultures in this, the Norse and the English and the British. One thing I have started to observe in Guy Gavriel Kay is that he can't really write romance -- at least, not in a way that satisfies me. In the Fionavar books, in Ysabel and in this book, there are characters that I can plainly see he wants to be together, but he seems to bring them together too suddenly and then... it doesn't quite work for me. The character-building and world-building is wonderful, and sometimes his relationship building is too (see: Paul and Kevin, in The Summer Tree, in my opinion). He's better at writing friendship than romance.
Halfway through reading this book -- fifty pages in, even -- I put it aside for a bit and ordered all the other books of Kay's I could get my hands on. His writing is lovely, and his storytelling just right for me.(less)
I can't believe I haven't reviewed this book. I read it when it was little, and it scared me quite a lot at the time -- I was a 'fraidy cat. The subje...moreI can't believe I haven't reviewed this book. I read it when it was little, and it scared me quite a lot at the time -- I was a 'fraidy cat. The subject matter, the story of Blodeuwedd, is something I've been especially interested in ever since. I thought the story was weird as hell at the time I read it, but I loved it a lot and it made that part of the Mabinogion stick in my head very strongly. I remember very vividly when I read it, when I was given the book, which I think is a sign that it's probably as good as I remember.
Having just read the Fionavar tapestry and Ysabel, Guy Gavriel Kay's books in which people are trapped into reliving an ancient story, I think I might go back to this book for a comparison. I'll add any fresh thoughts on it if I do.(less)