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4.7 out of 5 stars48
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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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on 5 March 2009
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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on 18 August 1999
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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on 17 January 2015
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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on 4 June 2005
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.
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on 9 June 2015
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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on 9 February 2011
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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on 13 February 2004
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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on 8 July 2009
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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on 2 October 2001
An epic story of two great men whose lives are intertwined with one woman, set in a world of warring cultures and beliefs. Guy Gavriel Kay masterfully builds a picture of both the world and the different cultures of her people in this beautifully told story. The plotlines are subtle and clever, and the characters are richly woven into the tapestry of the story, which is engrossing from the very first word. A true masterpiece.
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