Guy Gavriel Kay

Abe Gross argross at
Mon Oct 4 04:03:36 EDT 2004

> I have to say that I found his work extremely derivative, of both Tolkien
> and the sources, so I don'[t think I would agree with the "not inclined to
> copy it" comment. I generally like retellings when they are interesting
> do something different, but I found that mostly what Kay did that was
> different was nastier. I've never been inclined to reread any of it.
> Robyn

>From what I understand, it was deliberately derivative in one sense, but
because Kay wanted to examine the underlying myths. To my mind, the Fionavar
Tapestry trilogy works brilliantly: he takes those underlying myths and
tropes and makes them exciting and fresh. I think he does do something
different with them. There were scenes in the trilogy that absolutely
knocked my socks off emotionally. _Tigana_ also knocked my socks off; I
found it 'dense' and rich emotionally and deeply moving. I also enjoyed _A
Song for Arbonne_, set in a kind of pseudo-Provence. _The Lions of
Al-Rassan_ has no actual fantasy elements but is set in a pseudo-Spain, and
with the more recent two-book Sarantine Mosaic (_Sailing to Sarantium_ and
_Lord of Emporers_) he started writing fantasy again--I thought those books
were wonderful. I haven't yet read his latest novel _The Last Light of the
Sun_ . Kay's trick is to research a culture and history--that of the
Byzantine Empire in the Sarantine Mosaic--and to use it as a stepping stone
to create a fantasy society (like an alternative history, almost), usually
with magical elements also. I think he has a knack of creating realistic,
subtle, complex characters who face difficult situations and decisions that
are never simplistically resolved.

Looks like I'm in a minority here in really admiring Kay, Gili, but I'd
recommend all of his novels. He can be heavy going at times, and has some
annoying writerly ticks, but I think he's in the category of "great" writer.


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