In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty. Now, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later with an epic of prideful emperors, battling courtiers, bandits and soldiers, nomadic invasions, and a woman battling in her own way, to find a new place for women in the world – a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty.
Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.
Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.
In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.
I am once again in awe. I have waxed enthusiastic praise on each of the five books I have previously read by this author. River of Stars now makes six. It is a masterpiece of compelling fiction; a narrative that grabs hold and propels the reader along the meandering path of the multi-faceted plot. It is breathtaking in it’s scope; the world created by the author; the characters who fit perfectly into it; the endless tale of court (political) intrigue, a tale worthy to be called a classic.
I read a lot of historical fiction books, a good portion of them are by request as it seems my humble blog of reviews has garnered some interest among authors. I have a backlog of books to read and review, but I also like to read just for the pure pleasure of it. The backlog be damned – there are more Guy Gavriel Kay books yet to be read.