Review: A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

Review: A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel KayA Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
Published by Berkley on 14 May, 2019
ISBN: 9780451472984
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

International bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay's latest work is set in a world evoking early Renaissance Italy and offers an extraordinary cast of characters whose lives come together through destiny, love, and ambition.

In a chamber overlooking the nighttime waterways of a maritime city, a man looks back on his youth and the people who shaped his life. Danio Cerra's intelligence won him entry to a renowned school even though he was only the son of a tailor. He took service at the court of a ruling count--and soon learned why that man was known  as the Beast.

Danio's fate changed the moment he saw and recognized Adria Ripoli as she entered the count's chambers one autumn night--intending to kill. Born to power, Adria had chosen, instead of a life of comfort, one of danger--and freedom. Which is how she encounters Danio in a perilous time and place.

Vivid figures share the unfolding story. Among them: a healer determined to defy her expected lot; a charming, frivolous son of immense wealth; a powerful religious leader more decadent than devout; and, affecting all these lives and many more,  two larger-than-life mercenary commanders, lifelong adversaries, whose rivalry puts a world in the balance.

A Brightness Long Ago offers both compelling drama and deeply moving reflections on the nature of memory, the choices we make in life, and the role played by the turning of Fortune's wheel.

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Disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

drey’s thoughts:

It’s been ages since I picked up a Guy Gavriel Kay book, and I have no earthly idea why that is! I know I enjoyed Tigana, and A Song for Arbonne, among others – but most of his books were inhaled prior to my blogging beginnings and all I can say is I must’ve gotten distracted by other new shinies.

A Brightness Long Ago is a sprawling story of a boy whose life changes many, many times – based on chance. If you believe in fate or destiny, then Danio Cerra’s story will enchant. If you don’t, Danio Cerra’s story might convince you that there’s something out there – either waiting to see if you’ll accept an opportunity, or outright nudging you via your own conscience or logical reasoning.

More than just the story of a boy whose humble beginnings belie the life he goes on to live, A Brightness Long Ago also tells the story of a noblewoman and a healer – both of whom are intent on living their own lives, on their own terms. Is it fate, then, that throws both into Danio’s path?

I loved loved LOVED the storytelling in this book. It’s meander-y, but always leads somewhere. It’s pragmatic at times, wistful at times, and you come to know the characters through their decisions and actions. A Brightness Long Ago is not like the fantasy books I’ve picked up lately, with plots and intrigue and twists and turns. And yet it is, but so brilliantly told that I didn’t feel it was – until I was done.

drey’s rating: Outstanding!

Have you read A Brightness Long Ago? What did you think?

About Guy Gavriel Kay

guy gavriel kay

Guy Gavriel Kay is the international bestselling author of many novels and a book of poetry. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in literature of the fantastic and won the World Fantasy Award for Ysabel in 2008. In 2014, Kay was named to the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor. His work has been translated into more than 25 languages.


I read. A lot. And then I share my thoughts with you. Sometimes I even invite authors to visit and say a thing or two...