A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
To be perfectly candid, I wasn't a huge fan of Kay's earlier work and I left off reading anything else by him, thinking I already got his measure. Two books in an early trilogy. They were pretty good but it left a not-so-pleasant taste in my mouth.
So why did I come back? Give him another try?
I can't really say. I don't know. I just remembered how lyrical his prose was in places and thought, perhaps, he had grown into an even better writer since then. That maybe I judged him a bit too harshly. Maybe I just didn't like the rape scenes in his early work. Something like that.
So what happened? How did my second chance go?
Amazingly, so it seems. :) I loved this book. From start to finish, the characters came to life, always interested me, and the place so reminiscent of Renaissance Italy simply shone and shone and shone through these pages.
The fantasy elements were totally understated. The world and the characters were not. I was enraptured by one of the most gorgeous, lush tales of youth, discovery, and independence. Of how he grew to admire and respect two men who were old, bitter enemies, of how he sidestepped and played his own role between their conflict. Of a non-traditional love with a woman who would always, by any means possible, remain independent.
If I sidestep some of the most beautiful scenes, it's not because they were not memorable. Indeed, a certain assassination and a certain race will be scenes I will never forget.
Far from having to push myself through this book, I found that I never wanted it to end.
This is one of the highest praises I can ever bestow. :)
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