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A Brightness Long Ago

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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  3,935 ratings  ·  636 reviews
International bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay's latest work is set in a world evoking early Renaissance Italy and offers an extraordinary cast of characters whose lives come together through destiny, love, and ambition.

In a chamber overlooking the nighttime waterways of a maritime city, a man looks back on his youth and the people who shaped his life. Danio Cerra's int
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Hardcover, 423 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Berkley Books
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Mike Yep, sure will. There are subtle references to events discussed/depicted in some of his previous work, but that will in no way impact your enjoyment i…moreYep, sure will. There are subtle references to events discussed/depicted in some of his previous work, but that will in no way impact your enjoyment if you haven't read them. He's fond of "grace notes" as he puts it.(less)

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chai ♡
It felt unsettlingly disorienting to turn the last page of this book and be back in the noisy, bustling world. I struggled from the webbing of the story, and a deep melancholy that would not lift for many days begun to settle around me. Each word I tried to put down was one word further from what I meant to say. There was, in me, such a simmer of emotions; and I was tempted to read the book again, to go back and relive those moments, open them up and stretch them out full length to see what it w ...more
Robin Hobb
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of fantasy, readers of historical novels, people who love Kay's writing.
This will be longer than my usual review because I have a lot to say. And I will attempt not to do spoilers.

First of all, this book comes out in May. I received a free advance copy. I don't think that affects my review. I virtually know Guy Gavriel Kay and hope to someday play cribbage with him.

So, to start with, in the intro in the ARC, Kay observes that our brightest and most lasting memories are usually from our late teens and early twenties. Which sent me to research that right away. If you
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Paromjit
Extraordinarily profound, complex, lyrical and moving storytelling that deserves far more than the five stars I am able to award it. I have never read Guy Gavriel Kay before, so this was my first read, a historical fantasy, where the term fantasy is misleading because it is deployed to throw the most brightest and insightful of spotlights on the complexity of history and the chaotic reality of the contemporary world we live in. It mulls over the nature of power and memory, of how the future is s ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Amazing book! This is really an excellent historical novel, with just a trace of fantasy. If you haven't read one of GGK's recent novels, you owe it to yourself to give him a try. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Guy Gavriel Kay writes magical books. Not magic in the sense of mighty wizards and spellcasting with unicorn-hair wands and cauldrons bubbling with potions best not tasted. The magic in Kay’s novels is a more elusive thing. He takes a plot and cast of characters, ones that woul
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Elyse  Walters
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my first time reading Guy Gavriel Kay. I learned a little about GGK, when I was in Canada. The employees at Pages book store in Calgary all raved about his books. Kay was speaking at the new Public Library in Calgary- a night I missed due to being sick - ( which I later learned was a sold out event anyway).... but I purchased this book - taking a chance - basically not knowing what the heck I was about to read other than the inspiring encouragement from Mike —- ( smiling face Mike), and ...more
Celeste
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, historical
I received this book electronically via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.
“I knew, once, a woman diamond bright and two men I will not forget. I played a part in a story in a fierce, wild, windblown time. I do have that. I always will. I am here and it is mine, for as near to always as we are allowed.”

This is only the second book I’ve read from Guy Gavriel Kay, but I feel secure in stating that I’ve never come across another author wh
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Spencer Orey
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is only my second Guy Gavriel Kay book, and apparently I haven't read the excellent ones yet. This one seems to intentionally be more about the intricate impact of minor characters on the Italian Renaissance-ish setting rather than a standard story. It's a mixed bag! Some scenes are real page turners, while some stretches get a bit repetitive. I did really like the city-states and their seasonal wars for territory and taxes, using mercenaries and superstar commanders. And the little slices ...more
Kelly
To be honest, I had a lot of trouble slipping away into the world of this one. It took far far longer for the usual Kay incantation to take effect, mostly because it took far, far longer for him to start chanting it. As he’s grown older, Kay has developed an insistence on showing the teller’s hand that I don’t particularly care for or agree with. He wants us to be aware of him there, all the time, and gets more insistent on it as time goes by-he’s gone beyond insisting on the importance of the i ...more
Bradley
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-shelf, fantasy
To be perfectly candid, I wasn't a huge fan of Kay's earlier work and I left off reading anything else by him, thinking I already got his measure. Two books in an early trilogy. They were pretty good but it left a not-so-pleasant taste in my mouth.

So why did I come back? Give him another try?

I can't really say. I don't know. I just remembered how lyrical his prose was in places and thought, perhaps, he had grown into an even better writer since then. That maybe I judged him a bit too harshly. M
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Nicholas Eames
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A BRIGHTNESS LONG AGO is, like all of Kay’s work, exquisitely crafted and deeply moving. By turns beautiful and bittersweet, it tells the story of small people caught in the current of world-shattering events, and of the ripples they make that are sometimes—but not always—lost in the flow of history. His most compelling characters are those found lingering near the frame of a famous portrait, or rendered, almost as an afterthought, in glass and stone. Guy Gavriel Kay has written a masterpiece, y ...more
Violet wells
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it
My first experience of fantasy historical fiction. (Though arguably you could say all historical fiction is fantasy.) The author states this book was inspired by his reading about the feud between the Montefeltro and Malatesta families in fifteenth century Italy. And this is the world he recreates which he achieves in an authentic though superficial way. Thus Rimini becomes Remigio, Florence becomes Firenta, Venice Seressa and so on.
There's a very good depiction of Siena's Palio.
This novel ha
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Sherwood Smith
Guy Gavriel Kay’s new book is set twenty-five years before his previous. Instead of a sprawling epic, the story paints three interrelated setpieces, each with a leisurely beginning, building to white-knuckled tension.

At the center is the hatred of two formidable mercenary captains, Folco Cino d'Acorsi and Teobaldo Monticola, based on two colorful Renaissance figures. Running tangentially is the story of Adria Ripoli, whose tale intersects with the occasional first-person reminiscence of Guidanio
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Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Berkely for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

DNF at page 38. This book just isn't for me. It's another one of those fantasy novels that is very high fantasy and I just don't mesh well with those books. Fantasy lovers will definitely enjoy this one! It just wasn't for me

Happy reading!

------------

Now available!

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Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
Say hello to my new fantasy obsession.
Adam
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“We like to believe, or pretend, we know what we are doing in our lives. It can be a lie. Winds blow, waves carry us, rain drenches a man caught in the open at night, lightning shatters the sky and sometimes his heart, thunder crashes into him bringing the awareness he will die. We stand up, as best we can under that. We move forward as best we can, hoping for light, kindness, mercy, for ourselves and those we love. Sometimes these things come, sometimes they do not.”

Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Brightne
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Bob/Sally
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
No matter the era, themes, characters, or plot, a Guy Gavriel Kay novel is always a marvel of narrative construction. Few authors can weave a tale in quite the same way he does, building a narrative that engages the reader as effortlessly as it flows from the page, and yet which, upon further reflection, is revealed to be a thing of complex beauty.

A Brightness Long Ago is a story told in offset layers, with one narrative thread overlapping another, repeatedly taking us back a step to view pieces
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Jessica
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, own
A beautiful meditation on how seemingly small choices can have such great consequences, and on how people who come into our lives, even briefly, can change them. As Danio Cerra reflects on his life, on the great upheaval he witnessed in his youth, we see how small, impulsive decisions made by him and others brought dukes to their knees, ruined or saved whole cities, and changed the course of history.

This book also made me think about how much I love Guy's style. Not just the achingly poetic way
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Lou
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Master wordsmith Guy Gavriel Kay returns with an epic historical fantasy that is rich in detail with beautifully crafted characters and immense, immersive and intricate world-building. Undeniably readable with lyrical prose, which draws you into the story, this is a stunning, highly ambitious novel set in the Renaissance period in what is an alternative version of Italy named Batiara. Kay paints vivid pictures of time and place so much so that I felt like I had been transported back in time. It' ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019

We like to believe, or pretend, we know what we are doing in our lives. It can be a lie. Winds blow, waves carry us, rain drenches a man caught in the open at night, lightning shatters the sky and sometimes his heart, thunder crashes into him bringing the awareness he will die.
We stand up, as best we can under that. We move forward as best we can, hoping for light, kindness, mercy, for ourselves and those we love.
Sometimes these things come, sometimes they do not.


This quote covers the whole of
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Lisa
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2019/0...

This is a book that is more about the human element than the bigger picture of the world. How people’s lives can be defined, shaped, altered by a single moment. It is about those passing moments and memories. There are no guarantees in life, just because you feel something should be doesn’t mean it will happen or be that way. This book is full of danger, excitement, betrayal and love. Kay continues to prove his skill at storyt
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Kathleen
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Canadian author Kay is a storyteller of historical fantasy. In this tale, he has recreated 15th century Italy with fictional characters that feel real. This is a dangerous time and events seem to swirl on something as trivial as a chance encounter—“the random spinning of fortune’s wheel”; or perhaps fate due to divine intervention.

The novel opens with Adira Ripoli assassinating a despicable despot through a poison kiss. However, she is wounded and requires assistance to escape. Enter Guidanio Ce
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Mayim de Vries
How is it possible that I missed this?!
Kristen
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full review is here on my blog!~

As this book is by GGK, it goes without saying that it is beautiful. But I have to say it anyway: goddamn this is a beautiful book. This review isn’t going to be as eloquent as others you’ll see for it. I am finding it rather difficult to even get words together for my thoughts on it that aren’t just ‘breathtakingly beautiful’ over and over. So it goes. The Lions of Al-Rassan is the only other Kay book that I’ve read up until now, and I wasn’t really expecting to
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Esther
I received this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

I think I may have found a new favourite writer!
I began to acknowledge this fact after just a few pages when I realized that the writing style and turn of phrase had completely pulled me into the story.

I have received many glowing recommendations concerning the books of Guy Gavriel Kay but I was amazed how, with a few seeming simple phrases, he elicited such strong emotions and aroused my concern not only for the fates of th
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Jane
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
more like 3.5 out of 5.
"I knew, once, a woman diamond bright and two men I will not forget. I played a part in a story in a fierce wild, windblown time. I do have that. I always will. I am here, and it is mine, for as near to always as we are allowed."

So reminisces Guidianio Cerra, the main character in this historical fantasy set in a fictional 15th century Renaissance Italy. This novel traces the city-state warfare of that time, and concentrates on two leading mercenary commanders who carry
...more
Adah Udechukwu
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Brightness Long Ago is the best novel I have read this year. The novel is awesome, the plot is compelling and all characters in the novel are worth reading about.
Anna Luce
★★★✰✰ 3 stars

“An encounter on a springtime road. The random spinning of fortune’s wheel. It can sway us, change us, shape or end our days.”


Perhaps if Guy Gavriel Kay had paid more attention to his story and his characters, rather than devoting himself to the cadence of his carefully orchestrated prose, I would have been able to enjoy reading A Brightness Long Ago more than I did...the first few chapters are compelling but what follows is a repetitive, wearisome, and occasionally pedantic ta
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Debbie Gascoyne
Guy Gavriel Kay’s website is called “Bright Weavings,” and this new novel is brightly woven. The narrative is, indeed, more weblike than linear, tracing the tight but seemingly random relationships between characters in one brief moment in time. For me, the title represents the brief light of a life flaring out in the dark reaches of history; Kay brings them to life and their lives shine and interact like a kaleidoscope.

The novel opens with an incredibly tense and suspenseful assassination, and
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Patrick St-Denis
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've said it before and I'll undoubtedly say it again. Every two or three years, Canadian speculative fiction author Guy Gavriel Kay releases a new novel that never fails to amaze me. For some unfathomable reason, though the man is definitely one of the very best fantasists of his generation, if not the best, I can't help but feel that he remains, at least outside of Canada (where he is a bestselling author), one of the genre's best-kept secrets. With unforgettable titles such as Tigana, The Lio ...more
Contrarius
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well.... I'm waffling a lot on this one.

On the one hand, Kay is a skilled and confident writer. There's a calm surety to his work -- there's never a sense that he's lost in the forest.

On the other hand, he often seems to be making a point rather than actually telling a story, which means that I often find myself less engrossed with the story itself than I would like to be.

In this case, Kay is talking about things like how small decisions can have large impacts on our lives, how cheap life can be
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Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction. Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid. Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy, though the author himself has expressed a preference to shy away from genre categoriz ...more

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“We like to believe, or pretend, we know what we are doing in our lives. It can be a lie. Winds blow, waves carry us, rain drenches a man caught in the open at night, lightning shatters the sky and sometimes his heart, thunder crashes into him bringing the awareness he will die. We stand up, as best we can under that. We move forward as best we can, hoping for light, kindness, mercy, for ourselves and those we love.” 13 likes
“What we think we’ll do is often not what we end up doing. It isn’t always in our own control, our life.” 6 likes
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