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Creator / Guy Gavriel Kay

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Guy Gavriel Kay CM (born November 7, 1954) is an award-winning Canadian fantasy author. His works are known for hewing close to medieval European history, and for having very little magic.

As a young man, he worked with Christopher Tolkien preparing J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion for publication.



Tropes common to his works include:

  • Alien Sky: The multiple moons variety.
  • Author Appeal: Masquerade carnivals with anonymous sex. Also, male submission and cheating wives.
  • Canon Welding: Elements from The Fionavar Tapestry show up in other books occasionally.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Thinly veiled stand-ins for real world religions appear in most of his novels.
  • Decadent Court: A recurring theme in his novels, the plots of several of them are kick-started by one palace intrigue or another.
  • Disease by Any Other Name: Diabetes shows up in Under Heaven, under the name "the sugar sickness".
  • Double Standard: Kay consistently portrays cheating husbands as scum, but cheating wives as perfectly acceptable.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: He sticks so closely to the source material that individual characters can be matched one for one with historical figures from the original cultures.
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  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: With the exception of Ysabel and Tigana. The former is closer White-and-Grey Morality and latter is The Good, the Bad, and the Evil.
  • Historical Fantasy: Kay's basic modus operandi is to take a not-too-well-known historical event, change all the names (but keep the original cultural flavourings intact—the country may be called Kitai, but everyone still speaks Chinese and have Mandarin names), add a dash of magic, and construct the character's arcs around it. Namely:
    • Tigana: The unification of Italy
    • A Song for Arbonne: The Albigensian Crusade
    • The Lions of Al-Rassan: The Spanish Reconquista
    • The Sarantine Mosaic: The reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and the aftermath of the Nika Riots
    • The Last Light of the Sun: The Viking incursion during the reign of Alfred the Great
    • Under Heaven: The An Lushan Rebellion during the Tang Dynasty
    • River of Stars: The Jin-Song War and the fall of the Northern Song Dynasty
    • Children of Earth and Sky: The aftermath of the Fall of Constantinople and the intrigues between the Maritime Republics.
  • Low Fantasy: While magic is always present to one degree or another in his novels, it usually remains in the background, and plays a small role in the outcome of the events depicted. That said, this is not universal. The Fionavar Tapestry, which is High Fantasy, is an exception to this rule, while Tigana is something of a transitional book that sits on the edge between High and Low Fantasy.
  • True Companions
  • Two Lines, No Waiting