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A Brightness Long Ago

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4.33  ·  Rating details ·  981 ratings  ·  212 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
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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)

Community Reviews

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4.33  · 
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 ·  981 ratings  ·  212 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
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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
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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, fantasy, italy, netgalley
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
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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
Celeste
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
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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
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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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
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Adam
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
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Lou
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
Jessica
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
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Kelly
Jan 25, 2019 marked it as to-read
New Kay, New Kay, New Kay, New Kay!!!! *breath* New Kay, New Kay, New Kay!! And another that sound super back to his roots. Yes. Can't wait.
Lisa
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Mayim de Vries
Apr 10, 2019 marked it as to-read
How is it possible that I missed this?!
Kristen
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
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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
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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.
Chris
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
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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
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
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Wanda
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
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Barb in Maryland
Happy sigh...

Not as grand in scope as 'Children of Earth and Sky'; this 'prequel' is more tightly focused on one set of experiences for one character. Guidanio Cerra is looking back to a certain point in his life--when he was young and the small, seemingly random, choices he made led him into love, adventure, and the company of dangerous men.

I was totally swept up in Danio's story. The author has a graceful way with words and the ability to engage the reader's emotions as well as their interest
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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
Sam
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.
Tracy
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.
Olivia
May 23, 2019 is currently reading it
Netgalley - Detailed thoughts coming soon.

It's now out.
Calvin Park
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Brightness Long Ago is a beautiful story. It is vintage Kay, with prose that can only be properly described as art. It’s the sort of story that elicits emotion at nearly every turn. Sometimes aching and haunting, sometimes tragic and nostalgic. It’s a deeply personal tale about the small people who still contribute to great events, and perhaps in doing so have a measure of greatness themselves.

One of my first thoughts on finishing A Brightness Long Ago was that I would never
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Vedran Karlić
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kay is master of storytelling and his writing is out of this world. It's so easy to enjoy just words. But when those words have meaning, when you have a complex story and great characters it's easy to love it.

I loved seeing events from different perspectives, and how the effect lives for those involved. Jumping between characters, including those that are just there for that scene, and give them the conclusion. To shift writing from male to female, from past, present, and future. When Kay does
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Udayan Chakrabarti
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kay's novels are those half remembered snatches from a largely forgotten favourite song. They are fleeting glimpses of shining river between trees. They are music made prose and sparkling bits of magic infused into our oh-so-ordinary lives.

Keep writing, master.
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Play Book Tag: A Brightness Long Ago - Kay - 4.5 stars 4 12 May 30, 2019 12:47PM  

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5,260 followers
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
“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
“We are always the person we were, and we grow into someone very different, if we live long enough. Both things are true.” 0 likes
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