Posted by: markfender | August 4, 2015

Last Light of the Sun

In my continual quest for other sources for Exalted, I turn to fictional representations of Vikings.

last lightThe Last Light of the Sun is Guy Gavriel Kay’s Viking book. It takes place in the same universe as some of his other books, a sorta fantasized Europe (and Middle East). Instead of Christianity, we have Jad, the sun god. Anglycns sub in for Anglo-Saxons, etc. However, the novel is dealing with historical events, primarily the victory of Alfred the Great (or Aeldred, as he is named here) over the Vikings, which led to the eventual establishment of England as a country.

The vaguish fantasy setting allows Kay to insert fairies into the story, making it a bit more fantastical than it seems on the surface. But the thing that really sells the book (to me) is Kay’s melancholy. While the book, on the whole, ends pretty well for the good guys, with just about every character surviving and growing, it still felt like a downer of an ending because of the sheer maudlin attitudes of the characters themselves. This might be the real thing that distinguishes Kay’s writing from some other vaguely Anglo-Saxon stuff – he nails the fatalism.

Cattle die kinsmen die.

Every man born must die.

Fierce hearth fires end in ash.

Fame once won endures ever.

I think Kay’s written better books than this one. However, that doesn’t stop it from being a good book. He establishes and maintains a mood with each character’s journey, providing a good look at the attitudes of the time. His prose sparkles with description and his grasp of the tenets of Anglo-Saxon culture are strong. If I have any complaint, it’s that some of the plots don’t feel like they are all that connected to the others. Still, ignoring original sources, you can’t go wrong with this book in understanding the mindset of the early English.

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  1. […] all my talk of Anglo-Saxon stuff for Exalted, I neglected probably the biggest popular source, […]


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