You know when an author has become one of your favorites when you put down what you were currently reading and buy a new book to read it. Guy Gavriel Kay has become one of those “must read” authors for me. A Brightness Long Ago is Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest novel (released on May 14th) and the fifth book I’ve read of his work in the past couple of years.
A Brightness Long Ago takes place in the same world as my favorite Kay novel, Children of Earth and Sky. However, the two novels have a minimal connection and A Brightness Long Ago can be read as a standalone novel.
Kay’s latest novel revolves around a young man names Danio Cerra. He is the son of a tailor and has become a bookseller. However, he has a chance meeting with a powerful and privileged woman named Adria Ripoli and Danio’s life changes forever.
Their connection examines the power of choice and the life-altering decisions when love enters the picture. A Brightness Long Ago is set among the backdrop of Italian Renaissance and Kay explores the power of the city-state through art, culture and politics of that time. However, Kay adroitly does not take a direct story from the Italian Renaissance for his novel, but uses that historical period to create his own story. It seems that he was fascinated by Borgia Family of mid 1400s to early 1500s as an example for one of the main families in the novel. I must admit I know little about the Borgia family. But, I’m intrigued to learn about this family after reading Kay’s novel.
A Brightness Long Ago is more of a historical fiction novel than a traditional fantasy novel. The use of the fantastic is slight. But, the history, culture and imagination make up for the lack of fantastical elements nicely. This novel will be one of my favorite reads of 2019 and a good book for an introduction to Kay’s work. However, I found that Children of Earth and Sky covers the same territory a little better than A Brightness Long Ago. Recommended.