Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay portrait image to appear alongside the Guy Gavriel Kay biography.

Guy Gavriel Kay was born on the 7th November 1954 in Canada. He is still based out of Toronto. At the beginning of his career Gavriel Kay aided Christopher Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien's son) in the editing of Tolkien's great work, The Silmarillion. The pair met when at university together in Manitoba.

Guy Gavriel Kay incorporates real history into his fantasy books with the influences of medieval France, Moorish Spain and the Byzantium Empire all prominent in his novels. His first major and successful work was the Fionavar Tapestry which was first published between 1984 and 1986.

Guy Gavriel Kay is also an acclaimed author of poetry, his work being named Beyond This Dark House. He has twice won the Aurora award and has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award three times. His novels have been translated into 22 languages.

Kay's fourth novel, Tigana, was nominated for the World Fantasy Award whilst is also won the Canadian Aurora Award. The second book of The Fionavar Tapestry, The Wandering Fire also won this award.

Guy Gavriel Kay has gained himself the reputation of being a perfectionist, especially in regards to his meticulous research carried out in the process of writing his novels. In an interview Kay mentioned that the majority of his books can take up to a year of reading, contacting people, not-taking and travel before he starts the process of writing the novel itself. This is a process that he enjoys and leads to a broadening of his own knowledge and also the forming of friendships.

Kay still writes occasionally for radio and television but his main work consists of researching and writing the fantasy novels for which he is now world renowned. The film company, Warner Brothers, announced in 2005 that they were planning to make The Lions of Al-Rassan into a motion picture.

Authorised Guy Gavriel Kay website

Guy Gavriel Kay books reviewed

Bibliography

The Fionavar Tapestry

  • The Summer Tree
    Five men and women find themselves flung into the magical land of Fionavar, First of all Worlds. They have been called there by the mage Loren Silvercloak, and quickly find themselves drawn into the complex tapestry of events. For Kim, Paul, Kevin, Jennifer and Dave all have their own part to play in the coming battle against the forces of evil led by the fallen god Rakoth Maugrim and his dark hordes.
  • The Wandering Fire
    As the evil of Rakoth Maugrim threatens the very existence of Fionavar, the five from our own world must cross over once again to play out their given roles: Kimberly to summon the dead from their rest and the undead to their doom; Dave to take his place in battle among the Dalrei of the Plain; Paul, Lord of the Summer Tree, once more to weave his own bright thread through the tapestry; Jennifer to become the agent of a timeless destiny; and Kevin to discover finally the part he is to play in the struggle to save the Weaver’s worlds from the Unraveller.
  • The Darkest Road
    The young heroes from our own world have gained power and maturity from their sufferings and adventures in Fionavar. Now they must bring all the strength and wisdom they possess to the aid of the armies of Light in the ultimate battle against the evil of Rakoth Maugrim and the hordes of the Dark. On a ghost-ship the legendary Warrior, Arthur Pendragon, and Pwyll Twiceborn, Lord of the Summer Tree, sail to confront the Unraveller at last. Meanwhile, Darien, the child within whom Light and Dark vie for supremacy, must walk the darkest road of any child of earth or stars.

Tigana
Tigana is the magical story of a beleaguered land struggling to be free. It is the tale of a people so cursed by the black sorcery of a cruel, despotic king that even the name of their once-beautiful homeland cannot be spoken or remembered. But after years of devastation, a handful of courageous men and women embark upon a dangerous crusade to overthrow their conquerors and bring back to the dark world the brilliance of a long-lost name: Tigana.

A Song for Arbonne
The matriarchal, cultured land of Arbonne is rent by a feud between its two most powerful dukes, the noble troubador Bertran de Talair and Urte de Miraval, over long-dead Aelis, lover of one, wife of the other and once heir to the country's throne. To the north lies militaristic Gorhaut, whose inhabitants worship the militant god Corannos and are ruled by corrupt, womanizing King Ademar. His chief advisor, the high priest of Corannos, is determined to irradicate the worship of a female deity, whose followers live to the south. Into this cauldron of brewing disaster comes the mysterious Gorhaut mercenary Blaise, who takes service with Bertran and averts an attempt on his life. The revelation of Blaise's lineage and a claim for sanctuary by his sister-in-law sets the stage for a brutal clash between the two cultures. Intertwined is the tale of a young woman troubadour whose role suggests the sweep of the drama to come.

The Lions of Al-Rassan
The ruling Asharites of Al-Rassan have come from the desert sands, but over centuries, seduced by the sensuous pleasures of their new land, their stern piety has eroded. The Asharite empire has splintered into decadent city-states led by warring petty kings. King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendancy, aided always by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan – poet, diplomat, soldier – until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever. Meanwhile, in the north, the conquered Jaddites' most celebrated – and feared – military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, driven into exile, leads his mercenary company south. In the dangerous lands of Al-Rassan, these two men from different worlds meet and serve – for a time – the same master. Tangled in their interwoven fate – and divided by her feelings – is Jehane, the accomplished court physician, whose skills may not be enough to heal the coming pain as Al-Rassan is swept to the brink of holy war, and beyond.

The Sarantine Mosaic

  • Sailing To Sarantium
    Rumored to be responsible for the ascension of the previous Emperor, his uncle, amid fire and blood, Valerius the Trakesian has himself now risen to the Golden Throne of the vast empire ruled by the fabled city, Sarantium. Valerius has a vision to match his ambition: a glittering dome that will proclaim his magnificence down through the ages. And so, in a ruined western city on the far distant edge of civilization, a not-so-humble artisan receives a call that will change his life forever. Crispin is a mosaicist, a layer of bright tiles. Still grieving for the family he lost to the plague, he lives only for his arcane craft, and cares little for ambition, less for money, and for intrigue not at all. But an imperial summons to the most magnificent city in the world is a difficult call to resist. In this world still half-wild and tangled with magic, no journey is simple; and a journey to Sarantium means a walk into destiny. Bearing with him a deadly secret, and a Queen's seductive promise; guarded only by his own wits and a bird soul talisman from an alchemist's treasury, Crispin sets out for the fabled city from which none return unaltered.
  • Lord of Emperors
    Beckoned by the Emperor Valerius, Crispin, a renowned mosaicist, has arrived in the fabled city of Sarantium. Here he seeks to fulfill his artistic ambitions and his destiny high upon a dome that will become the emerror's magnificent sanctuary and legacy. But the beauty and solitude of his work cannot protect his from Sarantium's intrigue. Beneath him the city swirls with rumors of war and conspiracy, while otherworldly fires mysteriously flicker and disappear in the streets at night. Valerius is looking west to Crispin's homeland to reunite an Empire – a plan that may have dire consequences for the loved ones Crispin left behind. In Sarantium, however, loyalty is always complex, for Crispin's fate has become entwined with that of Valerius and his Empress, as well as Queen Gisel, his own monarch exiled in Sarantium herself. And now another voyager – this time from the east – has arrived, a pysician determined to make his mark amid the shifting, treachearous currents of passion and violence that will determine the empire's fate.

The Last Light Of The Sun
There is nothing soft or silken about the north. The lives of men and women are as challenging as the climate and lands in which they dwell. For generations, the Erlings of Vinmark have taken their dragon-prowed ships across the seas, raiding the lands of the Cyngael and Anglcyn peoples, leaving fire and death behind. But times change, even in the north, and in a tale woven with consummate artistry, people of all three cultures find the threads of their lives unexpectedly brought together... Bern Thorkellson, punished for his father's sins, commits an act of vengeance and desperation that brings him face-to-face, across the sea, with a past he's been trying to leave behind. In the Anglcyn lands of King Aeldred, the shrewd king, battling inner demons all the while, shores up his defenses with alliances and diplomacy-and with swords and arrows-while his exceptional, unpredictable sons and daughters pursue their own desires when battle comes and darkness falls in the woods. And in the valleys and shrouded hills of the Cyngael, whose voices carry music even as they feud and raid amongst each other, violence and love become deeply interwoven when the dragon ships come and Alun ab Owyn, chasing an enemy in the night, glimpses strange lights gleaming above forest pools.
 

Ysabel
Ned Marriner, fifteen years old, has accompanied his photographer father to Provence for a six-week “shoot” of images for a glossy coffee-table book. Gradually, Ned discovers a very old story playing itself out in this modern world of iPods, cellphones, and seven-seater vans whipping along roads walked by Celtic tribes and the Roman Legions. On one holy, haunted night of the ancient year, when the borders between the living and the dead are down and fires are lit upon the hills, Ned, his family, and his friends, are shockingly drawn into this tale, as dangerous, mythic figures from conflicts of long ago erupt into the present, claiming and changing lives.

Under Heaven
For two years Shen Tai has mourned his celebrated father and lived like a hermit beyond the borders of the Kitan Empire. There, by a mountain lake, the bones of the soldiers killed in great battles between the Kitai and the Tagurans lie unburied and their wailing ghosts strike terror into the living. Tai has laboured alone, laying to rest the mingled dead of both empires, until a letter arrives. It contains the promise of a poisoned chalice: Tai will be given two hundred and fifty Sardian horses by the Tagurans, legendary steeds from the far west, as a reward for his courage and piety. Now, Tai must try to return alive from solitude to a glittering, dangerous court. For to give a man even one of the famed Sardians is to honour him greatly; to give him so many is a reward which would overwhelm an emperor, and could be Tai's death warrant.

River of Stars
Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life―in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later―and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north. Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor―and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has. In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

Children of Earth and Sky (May 2016)
From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the Grand Khalif at his request - and possibly to do more - and a beautiful oman, posing as a doctor's wife in her role of a spy. The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the clever younger son of a merchant family - with ambivalence about the life he's been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif - to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming. As these lives entwine, their fates - and those of many others - will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world...

Critical acclaim

... for The Fionavar Tapestry

A fine, intelligent series. Probably the best of its kind. The British Fantasy Society

A remarkable achievement. The essence of high fantasy. Locus

I'm not just impressed by The Summer Tree - I'm overwhelmed. Marion Zimmer Bradley

... for Tigana

An enchanting, colourful fantasy adventure. Time Out

Tigana is so perfect I don’t think I could bear it if Kay wrote a sequel. Interzone

One of the best fantasy novels I have read. Anne McCaffery

Kay shows why he’s the heir to Tolkien’s tradition. Booklist