So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂
Another month, another edition of “So You Want to Read…” 😀 So for this month I decided to feature Guy Gavriel Kay and his books. He’s a Canadian historical fantasy author who has written a span of novels, some of which are popular and beloved within the genre. I had long heard of him and his works but I didn’t get around to reading any of his books until I was in grad school. Unfortunately I was busy then so I wasn’t able to review the books that I read then here on the blog. Nonetheless I enjoyed them enough to want to read his other books, which sat on my TBR pile for a number of years before I finally got around to reading them earlier this year 😛 His novels are pretty amazing in that he really researches into ancient and great societies of the past, and then weaving it into an alternative history story. Historians and avid history fans may find it hard at times not to compare too much into actual historical events, but he writes some interesting characters and character arcs that it becomes easy to put aside the history (at least for a little while 😉 ).
So without further ado if you’re interested in reading her books for the first time, here’s my recommendations on where to start:
- Tigana — This was the book that really showed to me how well Guy Gavriel Kay can not only construct this fully-realised world and society but also tell a story within a span of a single novel. I love how this book was about a lost people engulfed by another, larger empire, its people scattered and society and culture forgotten except to the minds of this people. It’s a story of survival and national identity all wrapped up in a storyline heading towards a common goal even as the major characters are all struggling with their own personal conflicts and interests. It’s a great starting point for new readers to his novels, but overall is also just an excellent fantasy standalone.
- The Lions of Al-Rassan (review) — While I personally did not love this book as Tigana, The Lions of Al-Rassan is still a strong book in that it really showcases Guy Gavriel Kay’s ability to balance personal storytelling with the larger political landscape that is shifting as desert sands with the historical research that lends Rassan’s familiarity to medieval/Moorish Spain. It really felt like a tangible place for me and I cared for the pincipal characters and the stories that were before them.
- A Song for Arbonne (review) — Wrapping up this list is the last book by him that I’ve read to date. Reminiscent of the troubadour culutre in Europe and the various kingdoms in Medieval Europe, like the other two above Guy Gavriel Kay does a wonderful job in not only creating the world of Arbonne but also the complex political and personal entanglements that these characters find themselves in. Themes of love and betrayal, the lengths you’d go for what you believe in or for a person, and cultural differences all weave in and out the stories of these characters, not to mention it was just a very absorbing read.
I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading something by Guy Gavriel Kay for the first time! If you’ve read his books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂