Review – The Darkest Road

Cover of The Darkest Road by Guy Gavriel KayThe Darkest Road, Guy Gavriel Kay
Originally reviewed 26th January, 2012

No matter how many times I read them, these books still make me cry, and more, they still have me reading late into the night, breathless and stunned. I know what’s going to happen, but that doesn’t take any of the poignancy out of it. Of the three books, this is the strongest: the best prose, the best action, the best images, the best in all the characters. He draws everything together do well, and puts the readers’ hearts through a blender without caring how much they’re undoubtedly cursing him.

(I seem to recall calling him a ‘magnificent, glorious bastard’ the last time I read it, and my other half agrees. No one can accuse Kay of being too gentle with his characters. He’s one of the few writers who can be ruthless. Tolkien’s work, dark as it can be, holds back from killing off the characters we love, and thus makes them less mortal, less fragile, and less dear.)

I still think that Kay sucks at building romance stories up. I believe in the established love of Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere — and fresh from reading The Mists of Avalon, I find myself thinking that Kay wasn’t simply talking of loyalty to a lord when he wrote of Lancelot’s love for Arthur — and in that of Sharra and Diarmuid. Kim and Dave, Jaelle and Paul, though…

I’m pretty sure I’ll return to these books again, and find the same shining delight again.

Rating: 5/5

8 thoughts on “Review – The Darkest Road

  1. Hi, I read your blog regularly but have never commented before. We have very similar tastes in books and you sometimes live in Wales too. Thought I was the only Kay fan here! And Juliet Marillier too.
    GGK usually makes me cry and this book makes me bawl pretty much the whole way through. Diarmiud’s death in particular reduces me to a quivering wreck of tears. And he’s not even my favourite character.
    Kay can’t write a bad book but for me this first trilogy is still my absolute favourite of his. It has remained in my top 5 favourite books for the past 25 years.

    • Oh cool! If my mother still lived in Wales, there’d be her too, but I don’t know anyone else local who does…

      I feel the same way — both about GGK making me bawl, and the first trilogy being the favourite. Someone sent me the first book, and I was hooked. Tigana‘s high up there, too, though.

      • I’m probably closer to your mother’s age! But Yep – Tigana’s my second favourite of his too.
        My least favourite of his are the 2 recent China novels. I just didn’t get drawn into caring about his characters in those in the same way. Good reads but they didn’t make me emotional.

  2. I don’t care what others say – if a book moves you beyond tears, then that’s a surefire sign that it’s a really damn good book :’) The author’s name is really familiar, though! Is he the one who wrote that fantasy called Tigana (or something along those lines?)

    Faye at The Social Potato

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