The Darkest Road by Guy Gavriel Kay

Rating 8.5/10
Not Guy Gavriel Kay's best but enjoyable with moments of brilliance.

The conclusion of Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry is reached with The Darkest Road.

The five young hereos from our world go back to Fionavar to face the ultimate battle between good and evil. With only their new-found powers, courage and Arthur Pendragon to aid them, they must sail to meet the Unraveller, Rakoth Maugrim, for the final time.

The Fionavar Tapestry is not Guy Gavriel Kay's best work, flawed might be one word to describe it but it does give enough indications of what wonderful work was to follow shortly in the form of Tigana, Sailing to Sarantium and The Lions of Al-Rassan.

The cover illustrations by Martin Springett are once again beautiful and are worth the book price alone. It's hard to put your finger on exactly why this trilogy falls short, there are moments of brilliance but they seem to coincide with chapters that seemed forced, unstructured and not in keeping with the rest of the narrative. For instance, when the child does finally take the darkest road that is the book's title, it is a deeply moving experience. The problem falls mainly with the five characters who are from "our world". They are one-dimensional and rather charmless but the majesty of the world into which they are taken makes up for this. I guess that these books are slightly infuriating because they never quite reach the heights that they seem destined to meet.

"As he did the same she saw, grieving, that the moonlight and the stars were shining through him. Then Imraith-Nimphais spread her wings, and she and her rider were gone. Another star for a moment, and then nothing at all."
The Darkest Road: The Last Kanior

There are paragraphs in the book that the English would describe as cheesy and the Americans, corny. I know that it isn't going to happen but it would be fantastic if Guy Gavriel Kay could go back and edit these books up to the same standard of his later works.

The funny thing is though, that although this review has more negatives than positives, The Darkest Road and the Fionavar Tapestry are very enjoyable books to read. Maybe, because the author was Guy Gavriel Kay, my expectations were too high. This is still better than most of the fantasy books available today but pales into comparison with his later, simply brilliant work.

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