Guy Gavriel Kay biography and books reviewed

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

... 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

Guy Gavriel Kay reviews

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

I once read an interview with Guy Gavriel Kay where he explained his approach to writing. He said that he wrote what he needed to write and then went over it a second time, adding layers and textures, making improvements, rather like a painter. And then he repeated the process for a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and then eighth time. And this is why his writing is so good, it's not just natural talent, which he has in abundance, but attention to detail and hard, painstaking work. It pays off and in Tigana he wrote a book that influenced me as much as The Lord of the Rings when I was a youngster. It is a book I hold very dear. But Kay is the second Canadian on this list and although they may appear the nicest, politest people on the planet I secretely fear plans for world domination, so I'll keep on eye of the Empire of Canadia's ratio. 

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The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

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 lead 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.

"This is what is known as historical fantasy and there are few better exponents of this genre than Guy Gavriel Kay."

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Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Under Heaven, inspired by the Tang Dynasty of Ancient China, is as beautiful and enriching a novel as you could possibly wish for. Kay is an expert storyteller, his writing style strong and fluid, his exposition always necessary and worked seamlessly into the narrative. He has successfully re-imagined Ancient China in the same accessible and absorbing way that he previously achieved with medieval France, Ottoman Spain and Renaissance Italy.


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A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Brightness Long Ago is a masterpiece; perhaps the finest work of one of the world’s greatest living storytellers. This story is shocking, devastating, and beautiful. Kay’s language is elegant in its simplicity, yet painstakingly profound as it cuts to the core of what makes us think, and act, and remember. 

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The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay

All in all The Summer Tree was nothing short of amazing, and a book I wouldn't hesitate in recommending to any fantasy fans who love language, character, and seeing the familiar tropes of epic fantasy take flower in new and astounding ways.

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The Wandering Fire by Guy Gavriel Kay

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.

"An entertaining addition to the trilogy, the characters are evolving and their roles become clearer. The introduction of Arthur Pendragon breathes new life into the story and the story builds towards its conclusion."

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The Darkest Road by Guy Gavriel Kay

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.

"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."

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Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay

The Sarantine Mosaic and Lord of Emperors, inspired by ancient Byzantium, tell a magnificent, sweeping story of empire, conspiracies and journeys, both physical and spiritual. One of the very best examples of alternate history merged with fantasy.

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