Friday, April 19, 2013

River of Stars

At the age of fifteen, to defend a government official his father works with, Ren Daiyan puts arrows in seven men, killing six of them, and walks into the forest they had just come out of, becoming an outlaw. Lin Shan, educated as her dead brother would have been had he lived, marries into the outskirts of the imperial family, where her songwriting and artful calligraphy can pass as harmless eccentricities like her husband's interest in cataloging antiquities, at least until a letter of hers catches the attention of the emperor himself. Their paths converge at the imperial court as Daiyan works to put himself in a position to help the empire regain the territories lost long ago to the northern barbarians, but one of the northern tribes has different plans for the empire.

Another beautiful book by Guy Gavriel Kay. This one, unlike many most of his, did not make me cry at the end, but I'm not complaining. It did make me want to read more about the actual history of Song Dynasty China and the real lives of the historical figures a couple of his characters are based on. That's one of the great things about Kay's quasi-historical fantasies; he's done his research, and while he doesn't hit you over the head with it during the story, his fictional reflection of the real historical period is so evocative that when I read up on the history it already feels familiar. Highly, highly recommended.

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