Thursday, February 26, 2009

Brightly Weaving

After clearing the decks of some earlier reading I wanted to get out of the way, I'm finally embarking on something I've intended to do for a couple of years now: I am re-reading every word Guy Gavriel Kay has written, in the order that he wrote them. Why? Because he's my favorite living author, and it's been a while since I've gone through his work. Here's how it breaks down:

:: My last re-read of The Fionavar Tapestry was almost exactly three years ago. This will be, by my count, my fifth complete re-reading of the trilogy, although I have dipped into it to read favorite passages too many times to count.

:: Then comes Tigana, viewed by many as GGK's finest work. It's not my favorite of his, but it is wonderful. It is also the first of GGK's books that I ever read in its entirety. The last time I read it was, I believe, in 2000. That's far too long.

:: After that is A Song for Arbonne, which seems to be held in less regard than GGK's other works. It was the first time I ever encountered his writing, when I saw the book at the Olean Library and was intrigued enough by its cover to check it out, but for some reason I didn't finish it at that time. I think school got in the way or something...I'm not sure. This was in 1992 or 1993. My last re-read of Arbonne was in 2001; that I remember because I recall the apartment we lived in at the time. This will be the third time I've read it.

:: In 2005 I re-read The Lions of Al-Rassan for the third time, so this will be my fourth trip through what is my favorite of all of GGK's books. This book, with its tragic love stories and its wonderful characters and gorgeous setting just hits on every level for me.

:: Of the two volumes that make up The Sarantine Mosaic, I have only re-read the first, Sailing to Sarantium, a single time, and that was in preparation for the release in 2000 of the second book, Lord of Emperors. I have never re-read Lord. This may be the one I'm looking forward to the most, at this point.

:: GGK's book of poetry, Beyond This Dark House, came out in 2003. I read it, and since have dipped back into it a bit, but now I'll re-read it in its entirety.

:: I reviewed 2004's The Last Light of the Sun for GMR, and since then I have not re-read it. I remember this book very favorably and look forward to seeing if it measures up to my memories of it.

:: And finally, 2007's Ysabel, which I blogged about when I read it. This will end up being the shortest period of time I've ever gone between full re-reads on a GGK book.

All this means that if GGK has a new book out next year, which seems a reasonable expectation (he seems to go about three years between books), I'll be totally up to speed on his oeuvre. And that's a good thing.

Even though I already own every one of his books, for the sake of this project I spent some time on eBay last December searching out new copies of each, in different editions. I've sometimes found that when you re-read a book that's very familiar to you, but you read it in a different edition than the one you're used to, with a different typeface and different cover art and so on, some details in the story stick out more than they otherwise would. I'm already noticing this in Fionavar. I already owned two editions, one a mass-market paperback edition that was my first copy and a trade paperback edition with new cover art; but both editions were done by ROC Books, and both used identical type-settings. This edition I'm reading now uses a totally different font, even, so I'm finding the experience of re-reading just slightly different. This may sound goofy, but we're talking about books I'm sufficiently familiar with that with some passages, I know where they physically appear on the page. Now those passages will have, well, shifted.

(Besides, my original copy of Last Light of the Sun is actually an advance reading copy; the thing doesn't even have cover art. I've rectified that with a hardcover version, albeit a book club edition. Nothing's perfect.)

I'll blog my way through these, obviously. I'm not sure if I'll be reading them all back-to-back-to-back, or if I'll read something else in between once or twice, just to cleanse the palate a little, but I'm hoping to be done with this at least by the end of summer, if not sooner. We'll see...but for now, I'm off to Fionavar!


Tosy And Cosh said...

I have never read any GGK. What one book should I request from the library to see if I like him?

Kelly Sedinger said...

I'll answer this in a separate post, so keep an eye out!