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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply a masterpiece
This is one of those rare books of near-transformative beauty and resonance. _The Lions of Al-Rassan_ is a densely-woven, hugely rewarding novel drawing on the themes of the Spanish Reconquista. The setting is an analogue of medieval Spain, as the Jaddite (Christian) and Asharite (Muslim) powers are pushed towards an apparently inevitable conflict by a mixture of piety,...
Published on 3 Nov. 2003 by N. Clarke

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He can do better, and he has
He can do better, and he has...some of his books I re-read every summer, during vacation, but not this one...several reasons, one being the lack of a clear story line...lots of horrible things happen to everybody, some cryptic and beautiful poetry is reclaimed, and off we go to another horrible event...nobody is a clear protagonist, nobody a clear villain, everyone is a...
Published 11 months ago by april


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4.0 out of 5 stars Kay's Seminal Work., 20 July 2010
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The Lions of Al-Rassan is, in many ways, the seminal novel in Guy Gavriel Kay's opus. Or at least it is to date. When he first arrived on the fantasy scene, with The Fionavar Tapestry, Kay was in some respects not a lot different from many other writers in the genre. He published a trilogy, which while lively and involving with some interesting characters, really had little to separate it from the output of other post-Tolkein writers. However, with his next two novels Tigana and A Song for Arbonne it became clear that here was a craftsman who was interested in more than simply churning out simple repartitions of the existing tropes. Each of those two novels have fine elements, but they were experimental without being wholly successful. Kay was intent on fusing two existing genres (the fantastical with the historical)to create a new one. Kay had not found the pure essence of what he was trying to create until The Lions of Al-Rassan. Stripped of almost all the standard magical devices of most fantasy he retold the story of El-Cid and the Spanish expansion in an alternate, and only very slightly magical, universe.
It was a triumphant success. Where his earlier novels had sometimes been marred by overt and clumsy plot devices and an occasional confusion between genuine sentiment and sentimentality, Lions was a rich, assured, human centred story which carried the readers into a different world and made us understand the complexities of loss and desire at a time of political and social upheaval. Characterisation, which has always been Kay's strongest point as a writer, was here lifted to a new plane in his work. And rather than it being a single uncharacteristically good novel, he followed it up with three more books set in two different places and periods within the same created universe exploring different themes and problems, but all sharing his new strengths and richness of craft. (It's too long an argument to get into in this sort of review, but there are some indication that the four books are modelled on Shakespeare's second history teratology both structurally and thematically. His two subsequent novels seem to indicate that he is moving on again in both style and intent but it is rather early to make an definitive judgements as to where he is taking his work.)
The Lion's of Al-Rassan may not be Kay's best work (in this critic's opinion Lord of Emperors most likely is to date) but it is a wonderful book and marks the point in Kay's career where his talent and vision cohered to mark him as one of the most readable and important writers with in the genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning, a book I want to go back and read all over again..., 6 Aug. 2013
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Lions of Al-Rassan (Paperback)
I almost wish I hadn't read this now, because I know, I just know, that it's going to stay with me, that it's going to linger and make it almost impossible for me to start anything new, like the world's most epic book hangover. It's going to be very difficult for me to get this world and these characters out of my head.

People use words like haunting, evocative, exquisite, sorrowful, much too easily when describing books, but I'd use all of them and more for this. I am not generally a fan of fantasy - I often find it hard to keep track of exotic names and made-up places and history and myth, and it can distract me from the narrative. But perhaps because with this underneath all the fantasy was a very real story about a very real place and time in our history, Moorish Spain and the Reconquista and the struggles between three faiths, I found that I just fell in head-first, and emerging now from this world I feel as though my heart is broken to leave it behind. I fell in love with Rodrigo Belmonte and Ammar ibn Khairan, Jehane bet Ishak and Alvar de Pellino, and I'm not ready to say goodbye.

I've never read any Guy Gavriel Kay books before, and if any of his others are like this I can't wait to start on the next one. But I hate finishing a book like this, because you can never go back and read it again for the first time. But it'll definitely be a book I'll come back to again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written novel!, 5 Mar. 2009
This review is from: The Lions of Al-Rassan (Paperback)
I think that Kay is one of the most underrated Fantasy writers out there today, his works are always a pleasure to read. And with this novel, The Lion Of Al-Rassan he has created a world that is deep in every aspect. The characters are beautifully written and the histories of the different cultures are so well written you could think you were there among THE different peoples living and breathing beside them. I think that this is talent that Kay has really mastered, in all the novels I have read of his you get a sense of being there with the characters, I think this is solely due to the skill in which Kay writes.

This story revolves around the stories of a Jaddite warrior captain and his Al-Rassan warrior friend also the story of a Kindath doctor and a young Jaddite warrior who dreams of glory. All of these characters from different cultures and religions come together to become great friends with each other,they survive battles and assassination attempts. Sadly they're driven apart when the Jaddite priests declare a holy war on the Al-Rassan Empire. Will their friendship survive the hardships to come?

This isn't my favourite Kay novel, but it is definitely close to Tigana. If you're a fan of well written fantasy then I think you'll be a fast fan a Kay. His works are brilliant!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One word: GREAT, 18 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
No book has ever been as good as this! Not even the Lord of the rings can match it! The Lions of Al-Rassan is so very wonderful. It takes the reader straight into a entire different world, which is yet similar to our own. This book contains everything. You can laugh till you drop from the chair, and you can cry a whole night. Because it is both beautyful and cruel. Its charakters face desicion, and whatever they chose at it, they lose as much as they can win. Nothing is easy for them. The reader simply has to love them, or if he doesn't, to respect them. And thats another point. Without effort you can think of them as of real people, alive somewhere.
The lions of Al-Rassan is telling a story of a friendship which breaks all border set by society. Religion, or nationality doesn't matter. And whatever happens, this friendship never breaks. Is never destroyed. Though in the end it seems so, but if you look close, you see this is wrong. Because all respect the choices of the other. i would tell more but I don't want to give more of the book away. But please note that somebody who doesn't cry at the end, doesn't have a heart.
Can anybody tell me why it is impossible to give more than 5 crowns? Because the lions of Al-Rassan deserve at least 50!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of the genre, 17 Jan. 2015
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Amazon Customer (Witney, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I've re read this book so often and now have it on audio, and it's amazing how the prose still fascinates and captivates. It is a story about history, the tensions religious, political and financial and the many layered ambitions of men and women. It is also, importantly, a story that is told through the dazzling characters living this history. Central to the unfolding story are a depth of the most amazing characters Kay has created, and possibly his best female character. For me it's the book in which he comes closest to matching the wit, warmth and depth of the great Dorothy Dunnett. One of the things I find incredible is that I can become so invested in a character who has done terrible things and yet still feel he is in some way a hero. Another is the way Kay choses the scenes he will show us and those he will hold back, and the power in that choice.

Kay has written many good books, but for me this is the best: his characters are true and the story well balanced.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow!......and to think I only bought it because of the cover, 4 Jun. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Lions of Al-Rassan (Paperback)
I have to say that one of the reasons I bought this book because I liked the artwork on the front cover. Yes I read the reviews and everything but I am sorry to say I do judge a book by it's cover. As you can see from the rating of four stars I did find a fault. The only fault I could find, (I would of given The Lions of Al-Rassan Five stars otherwise) is that the beginning took a while to get me hooked, it still sat on my shelf about two months after I got it. Maybe it's because I'm only 15 years old and not too intellectual(yet).
(Now without any spoilers, i'll use my weak skills of persuasion to urge you to buy this book)
Anyway, If you buy this book you will not regret it. GGK really makes you care for the characters, they will seem real and you will be rooting for them, it is the type of book you will read until 3 o'clock in the morning just to find out what happens to them. It is one of the only books that has almost made me shed a tear. The Lions of Al-Rassan is a powerful, involving novel, with realistic characters and a complex storyline. Everyone should read it, buy it, borrow it, but get it, now, go on, i'll wait.
DH
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing immersion into a fascinating world that reveals both the heights and lows of the human condition, 9 Jun. 2015
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I saw this book in a list of classics - I had read all the others but but not this one so, intrigued, I decided to buy it. I was not disappointed. Fantastic book. I think I expected the fantasy element of it to be a little more other-worldly and fantastical. Having said that, I soon forgot my initial mixed feelings as the author is just so incredibly talented. The characters, the different cultures, the way they all interacted, the political machinations, the way war, religious idealism and the desire for power can rob people of their humanity, the dilemmas and conflict, the emotional poignancy and realism - I could go on and on. So many themes here and so well-drawn and well-written. I would highly recommend this book. Loved it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Guy Kay on top form, 9 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: The Lions of Al-Rassan (Hardcover)
I hesitate to say how many times I have read this book, probably because I have lost count. This re-telling of the expulsion of the Moors from Spain (though of course it's not exactly that) shows GGK's range as a storyteller, creating believable characters living in difficult time who are making and dealing with the aftermath of difficult decisions; their own and others'. Even on a second (or third, or fourth) reading the excitement of the story pulls you along and the details springs surprises, things that you didn't perhaps notice before. Definitely one of my top 10 reads of all time.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spanish Fantasy?, 13 Feb. 2004
By 
S. Jones "magic_si" (S East, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lions of Al-Rassan (Paperback)
Loved this book as I have enjoyed all of Mr Kay's fantastic pseudo histories. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer! I would recommend any of his books without reservation especially this one and 'A Song for Arbonne.' Go out and buy them please if you have any interest in quasi historical fantasy with a touch of cloak and dagger.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 8 July 2009
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Miko (Guildford, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lions of Al-Rassan (Paperback)
The Lions of Al-Rassan

A great story, powerful, beautiful, and written with eloquence. I read it for the first time about ten years ago and it immediately became my favourite. The story and characters stuck with me; I found myself thinking about modern situations and history in changed ways. I just finished a re-read - it stills resonates and is still my favourite. I recommend it and Guy Gavriel Kay's other works whole-heartedly.
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The Lions of Al-Rassan
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay (Paperback - 15 Mar. 2012)
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