Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
This is only the second book I’ve ever read by Kay and I have to admit, I wasn’t all that impressed by the first book. But the publisher sent me this one so I thought I’d better give it a chance. And it’s big so I was a little worried about picking it up! But I am so glad I did. I LOVED this book. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down!
A little bit historical fiction, and a little bit fantasy this book was full of action and intrigue. The story was really about the Tang Dynasty and the An Shi rebellion in 8th century China but the name of Kay’s country is Kitai. I don’t know much about Chinese history so I don’t know how much of Kay’s book is fiction or speculative but it was definitely interesting.
As the book begins, a young soldier, Shen Tai, has taken on the task of burying thousands of sets of bones that have been left from several different battles between the Kitan and the Taguran armies at a distant lake. As Shen Tai is going about his task he receives word of a gift that changes his entire life and possibly the entire history of his people. Because of the gift he must give up his task and travel back into the heart of the dynasty, both physically and politically. I can’t say more about the story without giving away important plot points but I hope that’s enough to spark your interest.
As I said, I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. The plot was intelligent and exciting, and the writing was good. I was never sure where the story was going to go next, yet it always came together beautifully. My only, teeny, tiny complaint was that the ending was a little disappointing. I was looking for more ends to be wrapped up in regards to one specific plot point but as I’ve thought more about the book, that wasn’t really what the story was supposed to be about so I understand what Kay was doing, but I still wanted a little more in that regard. Overall though, I thought this was a fantastic novel and I can’t wait to read more!
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