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    Review of THE LAST LIGHT OF THE SUN by Guy Gavriel Kay (see his website)

    ROC, March 2004

    Erling (Viking) raiders have pillaged for generations but their day is finally passing. The Anglcyn (Saxons) under their powerful king Aeldred (Alfred the Great) have centralized their government, built strong fortifications, and even taken some Erling into their own kingdom. And the Cyngael (Welsh Celts) continue their squabbling while providing relatively little loot for the Erling. Three young men, Bern Thorkellson--an Erling, Athelbert--an Anglcyn prince, and Alun ab Owyn--a Cyngael prince are thrown together by fate in these last days of Erling raids. Because the grandson of the last great raider, Ivarr Ragnarson has sworn to recover his grandfather's lost sword and gain the glory and death that was once every Erling's destiny.

    Author Guy Gavriel Kay strays from history primarily by introducing the fair people--fairies and ancient gods, and by transforming historical Christianity into faith in the sun-god Jad.

    THE LAST LIGHT OF THE SUN delivers plenty of action as the Erling battle amongst themselves, and with both Anglycyn and Cyngael. Then again, the Cyngael and Anglycyn don't exactly see eye-to-eye and the greatest sport of the Cyngael is to raid one another. Occasionally, Kay escalates the action into true emotion. Kay's strong writing kept me hooked to the story even when he digressed into amusing sidetracks about the post-story lives of minor characters who would never be seen in the narrative again. I did think, however, that the digression about the destruction of the forests lacked the emotional punch that the destruction of an ancient civilization should hold.

    The best story comes when a character has a goal that drives him/her forward, forces decisions, and transforms both the character and those around him/her. In LAST LIGHT, Ivarr Ragnarson comes closest to having such a story goal. Unfortunately, he is too minor of a character to be an effective anti-hero and is dealt with too easily. For me, this lack of story goal weakened the plot and held LAST LIGHT back from achieving its full potential. Still, LAST LIGHT draws strength from the fascinating period of history that it is derived from and makes for an interesting and worthwhile read.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 5/25/04

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