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Publisher's Summary

From the multiple award-winning author of Tigana, A Song for Arbonne, and the three-book Fionavar Tapestry that "can only be compared to Tolkien's masterpiece" (Star-Phoenix), this powerful, moving saga evokes the Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse cultures of a thousand years ago.
©2005 Guy Gavriel Kay; (P)2009 Penguin
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Critic Reviews

"Kay's third excellent fantasy set in the world of The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995) and The Sarantine Mosaic (1999) begins about three centuries after the events of the latter. The place is an alternate Britain, the specific time the era in which a king modeled on Alfred of Wessex (849-99), called the Great, began to make headway against raiders from the north. The times and the battles are presented from several points of view, including those of Bern Thorkellson, a young northern outlaw; Aeldred of the Anglcyn (Alfred); his children; and Cenion, a learned cleric of Llywerth (Wales). Not all the battles involve weapons. The princes of Llywerth struggle with the half-world not accepted by the new faith of Jad, and Aeldred fights to get his lords to learn to use more than their weapons. The Erlings (northmen) struggle for a living, as their lives and land are hard, but realize that raiding is harder than it used to be. A distinguished story that, for those so inclined, poses intriguing historical riddles." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

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By David on 08-16-10

A Real Writer

This is a beautiful story. These days, it's getting tougher to find books that not only boast of a good plot, but are actually written well. Kay uses lyrical language to the point where I stopped the iPod several times to simply gawk. Some of the metaphors, sentences and descriptions are--in a word--breathtaking. The fights are brutal, the characters are vivid in the extreme, and the themes of redemption, spiritual reality and loyalty ring like hammers off an anvil of solid prose. Having this book in your library is, to quote the author, "needful as night's end."

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful


By Sandra L. Jacob on 11-14-10

Kay is one of the best.

Taking place in the same world as Al Rassan and the Sarantium Mosaic, the locale of this story is far north of there and a few hundred years later. A different narrator than the other Kay books I've listened to lured me to try this one in audio format. It was a good decision.

As in all of Kay's books, there are several points of view and this time it seemed easier to follow than some of his other books. The picture he paints of the land and the characters is vivid and moving. The land is undergoing changes and the raids of the Ehrlings (read Vikings) up on the Anglcan (read English) are no longer as easy as they used to be. He follows the struggles of Alun ab Owyn, Bern Thorkellson and his father Thorkel Alannson, King Aeldred and his children, and the priest Cenion as they attempt to deal with honor and loss, cultural and religious changes, and love.

There is more magic in this book than in the others I've read. Faeries and other supernatural creatures populate the landscape while the religion of Jad harshly punishes those who are able to see and communicate with the Fey.

There is some extremely gory torture and killing that is hard to read about or listen to, but I'm sure it's historically accurate. All in all, a very enjoyable book.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Michael on 04-17-15

Another great Kay story

If you like GGK then this is another involving story with great characters and fantastic writing. The interweaving of the main characters' arcs and the occasional one off perspectives demonstrate his skill in making you believe in these people and this world. Well worth a credit.

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