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Guy Gavriel Kay

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On 6/24/2019 at 11:22 PM, Arataniello said:

I enjoyed A Brightness, especially the links that it built between The Sarantine Mosaic and Children.  It has also given me an interest in reading more of the real world history that formed the basis of the story.

A very good introduction is John Julius Norwich's History of Byzantium.

Oddly, the Fall of Constantinople is a recurrent dream/nightmare of mine.  

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Just now, SeanF said:

A very good introduction is John Julius Norwich's History of Byzantium.

Oddly, the Fall of Constantinople is a recurrent dream/nightmare of mine.  

Norwich's history is so good and readable. Even the short version is exceptional. May lack the depth of more specialized, narrower academic works, but really provides a sense of the breadth and complexity, with very vivid renditions of major figures.

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1 hour ago, Ran said:

Norwich's history is so good and readable. Even the short version is exceptional. May lack the depth of more specialized, narrower academic works, but really provides a sense of the breadth and complexity, with very vivid renditions of major figures.

IMHO, it's the best that he wrote.

Sir Steven Runciman is good as well, if heavily biased.  My understanding is that the best Byzantine scholarship tends to be in Greece and Russia (unsurprisingly) and France, rather than in the UK or US. 

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On 6/24/2019 at 7:15 PM, Astromech said:

Roger Crowley wrote several very good books on related topics. Very engaging narrative histories.

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/133064.Roger_Crowley

I've read them all too.  They are terrific scholarship, while being terrific reads as well, which means as well as being a first rate scholar, he's a first rate writer.  Most scholars are not even fourth rate writers, alas.  They don't teach those skills in grad school.  Plus, it also takes a certain amount of just plain native talent.

The other attribute that Crowley has, which a lot of scholars don't, is his appitude for, and ability to master several languages.  This means he's got good ears too, which is another aspect of good writing, allowing for rhythm and pacing.

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Read last night half-way through A Brightness Long Ago (a terrible title!).  It's quite warmed over left-over Tigana material in so very many ways.  It does engage the reader, including this one, though so far none of the characters have the vitality of those in Tigana.

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Posted (edited)

Finally finished Lions of Al-Rassan last night.  I admit I struggled initially for the first chapter or so...I continually had to flip back to the dramatis persona to double check who was who at times... but I'll be damned if wasn't as wonderful as advertised. I loved it.  Without a large scale read of Kay overall, it's my top story right now.  I had a couple quibbles, but nothing that marred the overall beauty of the story. 

Edited by Jaxom 1974

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Finished A Brightness Long Ago.  The characters never snapped alive.  They felt a paint-by-number aggregation of Kay character characteristics doing what his characters always do.  Thin stuff, in comparison to the wallop Tigana carried.  But that was long ago, and the world and Fantasy have gone in many different directions since, so -- :dunno:

But it's his faint sketches of the religions standing in for Christianity, Islam and Judaism that are most unconvincing. These even come through as embarrassing, so lacking in passion, grandeur and devotion.

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3 hours ago, Jaxom 1974 said:

Finally finished Lions of Al-Rassan last night.  I admit I struggled initially for the first chapter or so...I continually had to flip back to the dramatis persona to double check who was who at times... but I'll be damned if wasn't as wonderful as advertised. I loved it.  Without a large scale read of Kay overall, it's my top story right now.  I had a couple quibbles, but nothing that marred three overall beauty of the story. 

Glad you enjoyed it! Kay's prose is exquisite.

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I've jumped into Children of Earth and Sky next. Is that a mistake?

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Posted (edited)
On 7/6/2019 at 11:56 PM, Jaxom 1974 said:

I've jumped into Children of Earth and Sky next. Is that a mistake?

I would say no. Just finished re-reading it (had a long break because of RL being too busy to get much reading done) and it's as good as last time. The only negative thing I'd say is that the re-read did make a structural issue in the last quarter of the novel a bit more obvious, but it's more that a thread that's dropped for awhile suddenly becomes the sole focus for a long stretch in a way that feels disconnected from the rest.

There's also a very explicit reference to the events of Lions in the latter third of the novel.

After that one, A Brightness Long Ago is a natural to follow up... but the Sarantine Mosaic duology would also work very well after reading Children.

 

Edited by Ran

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I've read Lord of Emperors and Under Heaven so far this month. The prose of the latter is gorgeous, and part of me could not help but grin at certain events - which in another book would be covered in intricate detail - being treated almost as an after-thought.

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36 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I've read Lord of Emperors and Under Heaven so far this month. The prose of the latter is gorgeous, and part of me could not help but grin at certain events - which in another book would be covered in intricate detail - being treated almost as an after-thought.

Under Heaven is really really good.

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1 hour ago, SeanF said:

Under Heaven is really really good.

Considering that I've read the majority of Kay's output (minus the last three novels and the poetry book), I always thought it rather odd that I had never previously found a book of his I'd enjoyed without reservations. Under Heaven is the first. 

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For me, A Brightness Long Ago was a thin gruel of reading experience, as well as an unsparked recycling of previous characters and plots and subplots, particularly out of Tigana, his 'real' first novel, at least his first novel for adults.  But that's my opinion, and so many see it differently, which is fine.

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11 hours ago, Zorral said:

For me, A Brightness Long Ago was a thin gruel of reading experience, as well as an unsparked recycling of previous characters and plots and subplots, particularly out of Tigana, his 'real' first novel, at least his first novel for adults.  But that's my opinion, and so many see it differently, which is fine.

Fionavar ain't standard Kay in terms of what came later, but it is certainly an adult work.

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I tried to read Tigana last month. I couldn't get past the first 20 pages. It's painful. 

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6 hours ago, Isis said:

I tried to read Tigana last month. I couldn't get past the first 20 pages. It's painful. 

I've tried twice. Third attempt will happen eventually.

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13 hours ago, Isis said:

I tried to read Tigana last month. I couldn't get past the first 20 pages. It's painful. 

Of all the issues I can think of with Tigana, they're not in the first twenty pages.

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6 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Of all the issues I can think of with Tigana, they're not in the first twenty pages.

I had it on my to-read list for years, I'd had so many recs for it from this board and elsewhere. I was really looking forward to it, expecting lyrical language and great storytelling. I'd been checking the price for the Kindle version and choosing not to buy it whilst it was still priced at almost £10. But when it dropped under £5 I thought this must be a sign that I should go for it.

The overly long descriptions of characters were making it hard to retain interest in what was happening. I get that some novels aren't concerned with plot - but I hadn't really pegged this as one of those. It just dragged and I didn't care about the characters.

A sad waste of time and money.

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