A Brightness Long Ago...is powerful proof, as exquisitely articulated as anything this thoughtful author has put to the page, that there are 'so many stories that can be told' ... The push and pull at the heart of A Brightness Long Ago’s narrative also informs its structure, which brilliantly resists the tendency of such tales to pick a side and stick with it ... [a] patchwork of perspectives lends such power and presence to the relatively trivial affairs that A Brightness Long Ago is about that they start to matter ... Guy Gavriel Kay...turns his attention to the kinds of characters and conflicts you tend to find sidelined in [fantasy] stories, to truly tremendous effect.
[Kay's] latest novel...[is] as elegantly polyphonic as ever ... It’s easy to read A Brightness Long Ago as an extended parable of butterfly effects and unforetold consequences, but this reminder that Kay’s novels are among the most elegantly designed in modern fiction goes a lot farther toward explaining the effects of his unique approach of placing very real people in not-quite-imaginary gardens. Stories, he reminds us, are told, but novels are shaped. A Brightness Long Ago...is not only the latest example of how Kay has honed this technique over decades; it’s also one of the best.
... not quite historical fiction nor quite fantasy but a piquant amalgam of both ... Chapter sections from different characters’ viewpoints interlock as neatly and tidily as mosaic tiles and the prose flows like a limpid stream. Believably and with great vividness, Kay recreates the past not as it was, but as it might have, perhaps should have, been.
Guy Gavriel Kay's newest release...is one of those wonderful books which gradually worms its way under your skin. In the manner of a subtle seduction, it works its magic on you until, without noticing, you've become totally immersed in the world the author has created ... it's his characters who keep us in the story ... New or old each of them are not only fascinating characters but their habits and behavior also contribute to our picture of the society they live in. It's not often you read a book which effectively evokes a time and place and tells a great story. Not only does A Brightness Long Ago accomplish all three, Kay does it with an elegance that leaves you savoring every page, indeed almost every word ... Read, enjoy and revel in its depiction of a fascinating world.
The novel’s deliberate pace suits its focus on character notes and preoccupation with moments of decision, interconnectedness, and crossroads in the lives of those involved. Another rich tapestry from a skilled author, A Brightness Long Ago will be welcomed by the author’s longtime fans but should also appeal to other fans of historical fiction.
The setting is evocative and vivid, inspired by real historical events and figures, and Kay manages a deft balance between quiet contemplation and exciting action as he explores the roles that fate, chance, and choice play for a minor figure in a time of upheaval ... Readers of Jacqueline Carey's 'Kushiel' series or Joe Abercrombie's 'Half a King' books should enjoy this dramatic and lush title for its almost, but not quite, historical backdrop. Also a good potential crossover for historical fiction fans since, as is usual for Kay, magic and the supernatural play only the tiniest role.
Fans of Kay's previous work will find his usual elements in play: strong historical research and worldbuilding, a vast cast of characters, world-changing events, and prose that sometimes gets carried away with itself. An epic tale filled with characters compelling enough to bear the weight of the high stakes.