Guy Gavriel Kay

biodroid

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I decided to buy Tigana for my kindle upon reading the sample and was really interested in the style. The story looked interesting too but could not comment on that at the moment. I just want to know what type of fantasy does Mr Kay write? I s he like David Gemmell with lots of action, or more like GRRM with more intrigue and political and social unrest or like Feist or Steven Erikson? I just want to get a heads up on this author I am not familiar with. What can I expect from him?

And now we have an official thread started for this author as well. So lets contribute and discuss.

Cheers.
 

Perpetual Man

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There's quite a few Gavriel Kay threads hidden away on the Chrons, the most notable being here:

Guy Gavriel Kay

But there is no such thing as too many ;)

As to what his work is like, it's very much his own thing. Kay had a tendency to draw on 'real' historical events and places, and then enfolds them into his work, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. There is an underlying feeling of conviction in his work because of this, simply because no matter how twisted it might have been there is an element of truth in what he is writing.

Tigana (for me) stands out as his best book, although others have their own favourites. If for no other reason there is a moment of what I would define as true power about half way through, just a little scene that tore off the page and made me feel as though I was there. Very few authors do that for me, I could probably count the moments like that on one hand, so it makes it a very special book. (In my opinion of course)
 

Bugg

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I've only read three of his books so far (Tigana, The Lions of Al-Rassan and A Song for Arbonne) and I thought they were all marvellous. In fact, I'd rate the latter two among my favourite books.

I don't think he's particularly akin to any of the authors you mention, biodroid - he's very much his own animal. The books I've read (and all the others I have waiting on the shelf) take a particular point in a country's history, and then he reinvents it in his own setting (Tigana's medieval Italy, Lions is medieval Spain etc etc). There aren't many fantasy standards in the ones I've read - they're very much stories about people who become involved in their country's problems and how it affects them. There are battles, but he keeps it all on a very personal level, I find. And his writing is fantastic.

Sailing to Sarantium is the next on my list to read. Can't wait!
 

Perpetual Man

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Sailing to Sarantium really surprised me, I did not think I was going to enjoy it that much at all, but it blew me away.
 

biodroid

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I always thought that GGK wrote books about fantasy in the line of romance, like Mills & Boon in Middle-Earth. I hope I am wrong.
 

Perpetual Man

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I think you will have a pleasant surprise then Biodroid. Of course, I haven't read any Mills and Boon so I can't really compare...

GGK connection with fantasy goes back a little further that the Fiovanar Tapestry, he was one of the team that helped Christopher Tolkien complete The Silmarillion for publication, so he has quite a pedigree when it comes to his credits!
 

Bugg

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I always thought that GGK wrote books about fantasy in the line of romance, like Mills & Boon in Middle-Earth. I hope I am wrong.
Based on the ones I've read, yeah, you are, lol. Not to say there isn't romance in them, of course ;)
 

Jen526

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I always thought that GGK wrote books about fantasy in the line of romance, like Mills & Boon in Middle-Earth. I hope I am wrong.
Y'know, I think there's a thread of truth in that. Looking at your original question and considering the comparison to people like Gemmell or Erikson, the first thing that struck me was that I would more compare him to certain female authors like Lois McMaster Bujold, Martha Wells, or Robin Hobb (to some extent). The thing that ties them together for me is that their stories tend to hinge more on character, emotion, and interpersonal relationships.

It's not something that goes so far as to move into the "romance" genre, but if I think I'd label him as "romantic fantasy" if it could somehow come with the caveat that the term is using "romantic" in its more classical sense, not the modern day variant that implies bodice-ripping and throbbing loins. :)
 

biodroid

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Awesome, George Lucas taught me about romanticism in film in his "making of " of Star Wars dvd's. Romanticism to me is suspending your belief so that laser swords and the Force can exist in my imagination. I am very happy to be proved wrong in this situation.
 

williamjm

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I decided to buy Tigana for my kindle upon reading the sample and was really interested in the style. The story looked interesting too but could not comment on that at the moment. I just want to know what type of fantasy does Mr Kay write? I s he like David Gemmell with lots of action, or more like GRRM with more intrigue and political and social unrest or like Feist or Steven Erikson? I just want to get a heads up on this author I am not familiar with. What can I expect from him?
I wouldn't really compare him to Gemmell, Feist or Erikson. Out of the authors you mention he has some similarities with GRRM in terms of the type of story he writes - character-driven, not much magic (usually), lot of political intrigue, some moral ambiguity - but his writing style is quite different to Martin's. Out of other modern fantasy authors I'd probably say he's closest to Bujold (as someone else mentioned) or Daniel Abraham. The exception is his first series, the Fionavar Trilogy, which is much closer to Tolkien in terms of both plot and writing style.

I like Kay's books a lot, he's one of my favourite fantasy authors.

I'd say his best books are Tigana, A Song For Arbonne, The Lions of Al-Rassan, The Sarantine Mosaic and Under Heaven. Tigana is probably my favourite but the others I listed aren't far behind. The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy has some very good bits and some of the most powerful scenes in any of Kay's books but other bits I didn't like so much and I think he improved as a writer in later books. Ysabel and Last Light of the Sun are his weakest two, although still reasonably good.
 

Montero

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I like the Fionnovar tapestry - quite a complex adventure story with people from Canada (I think it was Canada might have been USA) crossing over to alternate world. One of my intermittent re-read trilogies.

He then changed background and to some extent story style - much more historical on earth as other people have already said. I think it was Tigana I tried some years back and couldn't really get into it (I was expecting something more in the Fionnovar line). Must try it again sometime given how many people like it.
 

GOLLUM

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I like the Fionnovar tapestry - quite a complex adventure story with people from Canada (I think it was Canada might have been USA) crossing over to alternate world. One of my intermittent re-read trilogies.
Nice...:) Fionnovar tapestry was my first exposure to Kay in the 1980s and since then I've collected most his work (novels). Tingana, A Song For Arbonne and The Lions of Al-Rassan are probably my favorites. I also have copies of Sarantine Mosaic, Last Light of the Sun and Ysabel but don't recall having read Saranatine yet and only giving Ysabel a cursory glance to date. As has already been mentioned I think he is one of the finest writers that I have read in contemporary 'fantasy'.
 

williamjm

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I like the Fionnovar tapestry - quite a complex adventure story with people from Canada (I think it was Canada might have been USA) crossing over to alternate world. One of my intermittent re-read trilogies.
Yes, they were Canadians in Fionavar (and its semi-sequel Ysabel).
 

williamjm

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Ooh, didn't know Ysabel was a semi-sequel. Must add to shopping list.:)
It's not a true sequel in the sense that the plot follows on from the previous book. It does again feature some Canadians travelling to a strange foreign land, although in this case it is modern-day France rather than Fionavar. However, it is connected to Fionavar because two of the main characters in the Fionavar series reappear in a supporting role.

I don't think Ysabel has the same depth that most of Kay's other books have, but I did enjoy reading it, and it did make me want to go on holiday to Provence.
 

Clansman

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I don't think Ysabel has the same depth that most of Kay's other books have, but I did enjoy reading it, and it did make me want to go on holiday to Provence.
Ditto! I found this the weakest of Kay's books, but southern France is the best character in Ysabel by far. You can smell the croissants and coffee and vineyards, feel the sun on your neck. Amazing how Kay can do that.
 

Montero

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That's triggered a memory - I've read it from the library. Assuming it was the one





SPOILER

with the ancient roman and the celtic priestess character
 

Arkose

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I have a nice random question.

In Tigana, is there a map in the actual book? I ask because I have this on audio, which for obvious reasons doesn't produce a map, and wonder if one exists.
 
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