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A Brightness Long Ago    by Guy Gavriel Kay order for
Brightness Long Ago
by Guy Gavriel Kay
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I'm a long-time fan of Guy Gavriel Kay's superb historical fantasies. I opened A Brightness Long Ago (set in an alternate early Renaissance Italy) with high hopes, and was in no way disappointed. Kay has the ability to capture the flavor of an era in history and present it to readers in an alternate form. This novel is a prequel to his Children of Earth and Sky.

The main story arc in A Brightness Long Ago follows two young women who bypass societal expectations and strive very hard to form their own destinies. The male lead is Danio Cerra. Of humble origins in Seressa, his brilliance led to his training in the renowned school of Guarino in Avegna, followed by service at the court of vicious Count Uberto of Mylasia, known for good reason as 'The Beast'.

Danio recognizes Adria Ripoli, a noblewoman who comes in the guise of a farm girl to assassinate the Beast, and is wounded in the process. Why does Adria do this? Though she knows she'll eventually have to settle into the role her highborn family plan for her, Adria 'wanted more freedom than the world wished to give a woman', and her uncle Folco gives her opportunities to test her skills. In Mylasia, Danio helps her to escape and falls under her spell.

Soon Danio is entangled in a deadly feud between feared mercenary Folco Cino, lord of Acorsi and Teobaldo Monticola, Wolf of Remigio. He and Adrio meet again after this 'woman diamond bright' performs another daring exploit. Though the forbidden love that grows between them endangers Danio, they work hard to protect each other. They ultimately cannot. A Brightness Long Ago is another extraordinary read by Guy Gavriel Kay, this time featuring two remarkable women.

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