Release Date: 18/07/13
Publisher: Harper Collins
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 - 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 loved the original book Under Heaven and for some time I’ve been thinking my way through various plots that Guy could have thrown into the world and left wondering why a new title hadn’t been forthcoming for quite some time, so when this book landed I was more than happy so much so that the title I was reading prior to this was put back on the shelf to make space within my brain for this outing.
As usual with Guy the book has wonderful pace, some great twists and with characters that really leap from the pages really work wonderfully together. Add to the mix an author who loves to lead you around the world whilst spinning a wonderful tale on a scale that went far beyond what I had imagined all round gave me something great to sit back with.
Finally throw in some magical action sequences and all round I was a more than happy reader. Great stuff.