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A Brightness Long Ago

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,695 ratings  ·  338 reviews
From the internationally bestselling author of Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan comes a masterful new novel set in a vivid world evoking early Renaissance Italy and offering 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 recalls his youth and t
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton
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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…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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4.27  · 
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 ·  1,695 ratings  ·  338 reviews

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Robin Hobb
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Chaima ✨ شيماء
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
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☽
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italy, netgalley, fantasy, arc
On sale May 7, 2019! This is really an excellent historical novel, with light fantasy elements. If you haven't read one of GGK's recent novels, you owe it to yourself to give him a try. Final 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, o
Elyse Walters
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Nicholas Eames
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Violet wells
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
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
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“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
Bob Milne
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
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review from Tenacious Reader:

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
Mayim de Vries
Apr 10, 2019 marked it as to-read
How is it possible that I missed this?!
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Debbie Gascoyne
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Adah Udechukwu
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
*copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review*

I want to give you a quick reaction, which I put together a few minutes after finishing this book - hopefully that will convince you to give it your attention. If not, there's more below. But this was my first, unfiltered thoughts:

"This is numinous, illuminating work. Expectations high, expectations surpassed. Very emotional. Going to be thinking about it for a while."

Not convinced? OK. Let's get into it a little more:

A Brightness Long Ago is a fanta
Patrick St-Denis
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
As usual, GGK writes like a dream. If you like historical fantasy, I would highly recommend his work. This volume features a world very much like Renaissance Italy, with all its political machinations and complications.

But what I absolutely adore is Kay’s portrayals of women. They have exactly the same depth, the same complexity, the same motivations as the male characters. In other words, he treats women as equal people. It is such a delight to read fiction written to depict real women!

I was e
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
DNF at 46%

Not going to rate this because one day, I'll come back to the book. At the moment, though? I just couldn't get into it. The beginning was so explosive! I was so excited to read it and see where it went. Then, it slowed down. A lot. It slowed to the point where I forgot characters and what was going on. I didn't even know the plot at that point.

However, the writing was amazing. I'd try another book by this author. And, one day, I'll probably come back to this book since I think it had p
Unfortunately I didn't love this as much as I was hoping to. It's not a bad book by any means, but it pales in comparison to Children of Earth and Sky (to which this book is a prequel, and I did enjoy seeing the characters from that book here!). I'm wondering whether it's worth reading any more of Guy Gavriel Kay's books, since they have so far been very hit or miss.

Full review to come!
Adam Whitehead
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Danio Cerra is the song of a tailor who, through luck and connections, finds himself working in the household of the Duke of Mylasia, known throughout the city-stats of Batiara as "The Beast." Adria Ripoli is the daughter of a wealthy family who is predisposed to action and danger. Folco d'Acorsi and Teobaldo Monticola are rival mercenary commanders, the greatest generals of their day, whose fame and expertise are desired throughout the world, and who share a hatred and rivalry that will shape a ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, fantasy, canadian
I was so gripped by this novel. It definitely hit the same highs I felt when I was reading Kay's Tigana or The Lions of Al-Rassan. He spends a lot of time in this novel on the theme of 'diverging paths'. There are many times when the characters consider how they're lives (and the lives of others) are shaped by simple decisions. And he does such a good job twisting the historical setting for his novels. Right now, part of me is really interested in reading about Medieval/Renaissance Italy. Some o ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guy Gavriel Kay's latest offering is historical adventure fantasy set in an imagined land similar to that of the Italian peninsula during the Renaissance, with rival cities and families enacting their political intrigues and honor driven vendettas. I found the prose a little less poetic and the plot less complex than in other Kay novels I have liked, but others are giving the book raves so this book may have been aimed at a more introductory audience than I.
As always, achingly lovely. Guy Gabriel Kay writes about love, and loss in ways unlike anyone else. In this he writes about the futility of war, the suffering it causes, how a persons life can change suddenly in ways not to be imagined. How you can love someone you have met only briefly and how they can change your life.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good escapist fun.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think it's fair to say that Kay isn't deviating too far from the types of character and setting that he tends to write about, but I've always enjoyed his previous books and I liked this one a lot as well. One thing it has in common with his recent books is that the narrative is trying to feel like real history in a fantasy setting, so the storylines don't always have neat endings and the plot does meander a bit at times. The highlights are probably the tense opening, and the horse race at Bisc ...more
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Play Book Tag: A Brightness Long Ago - Kay - 4.5 stars 4 14 May 30, 2019 12:47PM  

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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
“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.” 1 likes
“It was interesting, I suppose it still is, how vicious men can take power and be accepted, supported by those they govern, if they bring with them a measure of peace. If granaries are full and citizens fed.” 1 likes
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