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Under Heaven Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Length: 592 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Review

Praise for UNDER HEAVEN:

‘An impressive, absorbing performance by one of fantasy's top writers’ Daily Mail

‘Kay delivers an exquisitely detailed vision of a land much like Tang Dynasty China… the complex intrigues of poets, prostitutes, ministers and soldiers evolve into a fascinating, sometimes bloody, and entirely believable tale’ Publishers Weekly

‘Part dynastic stuggle, part love story, part examination of duty versus personal freedom, UNDER HEAVEN boasts a complex plot replete with subterfuge and driven by well-drawn characters, Shen Tai himself being a particularly rich creation’ SFX Magazine

Praise for Guy Gavriel Kay:

‘A fine, intelligent series. Probably the best of its kind’ British Fantasy Society

‘A remarkable achievement. The essence of high fantasy’ Locus

About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay was born and raised in Canada. In 1974-5 he spent a year in Oxford assisting Christopher Tolkien in his editorial construction of J R R Tolkien’s posthumously published THE SILMARILLION. He took a law degree at the University of Toronto on his return to Canada and was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1981. Guy Gavriel Kay lives in Toronto


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1278 KB
  • Print Length: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (27 Mar. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E74B2E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #16,248 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my favourite authors, has been for a long time. His early Fionavar Tapestry caught my interest: flawed, derivative of Tolkien, but nevertheless full of knowledge and understanding of European folklore, and expressed in lambent prose. His Sarantium duology disappointed slightly, but he found his rythm again in his evocations of early medieval Europe, the hauntingly beautiful Song for Arbonne, the rich and tragic Lions of Al Rassan, the exquisite and almost flawless Tigana. The Last Light of the Sun is possibly better than these, but did not move me personally so much; and Ysabel, which I love, is perhaps less ambitious. But nevertheless Kay is one of two writers I pre-order in hardback as soon as a book is announced. But I confess I wondered: could this writer so steeped in the history of Europe do justice to ancient China?

Oh, ye of little faith.

This novel is transcendent. It stands alongside Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose as the equal finest piece of narrative fiction I have ever read. There is so much richness, so much depth, so much knowledge, so much understanding here. So much compassion; so much subtlety. And the evocation of ancient China rings entirely true. No slightest hint or detail of scene or voice interrupts or jars the willing suspension of disbelief. The evocation of a world that sweeps from the empty grasslands of the steppe through the mountain wastes of the abandoned battlefield, over the lonely forts on the Great Wall and by way of the isolated fastness of the soldier monks to the pleasure gardens of the imperial palace is solid and firm and credible in each perfectly observed detail, in each perfectly crafted phrase.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kitai, during the Ninth Dynasty. The Emperor has given the nation many years of peace and prosperity. Far to the west, in a valley where the last great battle between Kitai and Tagur was fought, a dutiful son pays homage to his dead father by burying the bones of the fallen. His honourable task is noted by the Tagurans who give him a princely gift: two hundred and fifty Sardian horses. You give a man one Sardian horse to honour him greatly, four or five to elevate him above all others. Two hundred and fifty is an overwhelming gift, a gift that instantly elevates Shen Tai into a player in Kitan politics.

These are perilous times. The First Minister and the empire's greatest general are feuding, the Emperor is distracted by his most favoured concubine and there is tribal dissent among the Bogu people beyond the Long Wall. Shen Tai and his family are thrust into the midst of great events, and find they and their horses may determine the balance of power, and of life and death, for many.

Under Heaven is Guy Gavriel Kay's eleventh novel, and marks a return to his favoured alternate-history setting and genre after the World Fantasy Award-winning Ysabel, which was a departure from his normal work. The setting this time is 8th Century China during the Tang Dynasty, during the lead-up to the colossal An Shi Rebellion (the most devastating war in human history until World War II, if the casualty figures are to be believed), although as normal the setting is lightly fictionalised, with characters and events hewing close to the originals but not quite replicating them.

Kay's China - Kitai - is a place of scheming nobles, courtly poise and etiquette and labyrinth conspiracies, all of which are depicted impressively.
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By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
Some commentators did not like this book, even as fans of Kay. This may be because the fiction is inspired by Tang China (618 to 907 AD) and more accuratly with the rebellion of An Lu Shan, an event that is not well known in the West. This event riped apart the Empire in the middle of the 8th century, latest 8 years, caused millions of deaths (according to certain estimates, some 70% of the 50 million population) and impoverished China for decades.

Maybe also, some didn't like the somewhat unfamiliar poetry and characters, all of which are based on historical people. As usual, however, Kay's research is flawless. Even an equivalent of the Sardian Horses existed, although the author may have significantly enhanced its importance in the novel, comprared to the historical context. These were the horses bred in Ferghana (in Central Asia), some of which were exported to Tibet - one of China's most powerful ennemies at the time (Tagur in the book) and China (Kitan).

The story telling also has many of Kay's usual ingredients. The characters, starting with the most powerful one, seem entirely unable to cope and do anything to avert the coming disaster. This sense of doom and impending catastrophy can also be found in a number of his other novels (the Lions of Al-Rassan or Song for Arbonne come to mind), together with the idea that nothing will ever be the same afterwards. Clearly, you either likes this - as I do - or you don't, in which case this book will clearly not work for you.

I wasn't really convinced with the Kanlin (a loose interpretation of the Shaolin warrior monks?) who seem to be used as bodyguards, secretaries, interpreters, diplomats and, more precisely, trusted third parties and could include both men and women.
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