Kay, Guy Gavriel

Guy Gavriel Kay, writer (b at Weyburn, Sask 7 Nov 1954). Growing up in Winnipeg, Guy Gavriel Kay's first introduction to fantasy literature came from his childhood reading of fairy tales and Greek mythology. After earning a bachelor's degree in philosophy at the University of Manitoba, Kay moved to Oxford, England, to help Christopher Tolkien edit The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien's unfinished manuscript. Kay returned to Canada to go to the University of Toronto, where he received his law degree in 1978, although he never practised law. From 1981 to 1989 he was scriptwriter and producer for CBC Radio's The Scales of Justice. At the same time, Guy Gavriel Kay began writing, publishing and winning awards for his fantasy novels.

Guy Gavriel Kay's first three novels, The Summer Tree (1984), The Wandering Fire (1986) and The Darkest Road (1986), comprise The Fionavar Tapestry. The trilogy chronicles the lives of five University of Toronto students caught in the conflicts of another world. Powered by dramatic pacing and lyric prose, the novels contain a density of detail and reflect the author's knowledge of Celtic, Teutonic and Nordic mythology.

While The Fionavar Tapestry is high fantasy in the Tolkien tradition, most of Guy Gavriel Kay's subsequent novels are historical fantasy, fictional alternative versions of the past. Tigana (1990), for example, takes place in 15th-century renaissance Italy and Arbonne (1992) is set in medieval France. The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995), set in a medieval land of city states, is modelled on Moorish Spain. The royal court in Byzantium, in first century BCE, is the backdrop for Kay's two-volume The Sarantine Mosaic: Sailing to Sarantium (1998) and Lord of the Emperors (2000).

In his 2002 The Last Light of Sun, Guy Gavriel Kay fictionally transforms the 9th-century Viking invasions, during the time of Alfred the Great, into an Erling invasion during Aeldred's reign of Anglcyn. Although Kay's 2007 book, Ysabel, opens in modern-day Provence, the 15-year-old protagonist finds himself caught in an ancient, bloody love triangle, doomed to repeat itself throughout time.

Guy Gavriel Kay's honours include two Aurora Awards from the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association. Kay was also awarded Mexico's International Goliardos Award for his contribution to fantasy literature. His works have been translated into more than 20 languages.

See also: KAY, Guy Gavriel.