RIVER OF STARS by Guy Gavriel Kay

RIVER OF STARS

KIRKUS REVIEW

An elegant, imaginative inhabitation of Song-dynasty China of 1,000 years ago by prolific historical novelist Kay (A Song for Arbonne, 1993, etc.).

The time is a fraught one: Nomadic raiders from the Central Asian steppes encroach along the length of the Chinese border, while on the other side of the Great Wall, the old imperial order is cracking. As Kay’s epic tale opens, a young boy, “big for his age, and grimly, unshakably determined to be one of the great men of his day,” can think of nothing more than how he can serve that empire, even as he must face all the odds that stand in his way: being stuck in a backwater without resources or a teacher in a time of drought, famine and widespread infanticide. Lin Shan, meanwhile, has it easier; her father is well-placed in the court, she is “tall for a woman” and pretty without being beautiful, and, well, she escaped being killed just for being female. Naturally, the paths of Ren Daiyan and Lin Shan are destined to cross—and so they do, but in no way predictably. Kay reveals—and revels in—the endless intrigues of court, which, in the end, will prove to be accomplished, indeed indispensable, Ren’s undoing. Yet that undoing is for the larger good, as Kay tells us, drawing straight from the annals: “The peace between the newest steppe empire and Kitai...would last more than two hundred years...with almost unbroken trade, diplomats exchanged, even gifts between ever-changing emperors on their birthdays, as the rivers flowed, and the years.”

Lucid and lyrical, and skillfully written, with the sweep of an old-fashioned Pearl S. Buck or James A. Michener saga.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-451-46497-2
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: ROC/Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2013




10 BOOKS THAT SWEEP YOU OFF YOUR FEET (AND PUT YOU SOMEWHERE ELSE):

Fiction LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson
by Kate Atkinson
Fiction SNAPPER by Brian Kimberling
by Brian Kimberling
Children THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey
by Rick Yancey
Fiction THE ACCURSED by Joyce Carol Oates
by Joyce Carol Oates

MORE BY GUY GAVRIEL KAY

Sci-FiLORD OF EMPERORS by Guy Gavriel Kay
by Guy Gavriel Kay
FictionTHE LION OF AL-RASSAN by Guy Gavriel Kay
by Guy Gavriel Kay
FictionA SONG FOR ARBONNE by Guy Gavriel Kay
by Guy Gavriel Kay

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionTHE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT by Amy Tan
by Amy Tan
Sci-FiTHE ONE-EYED MAN by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
FictionWOLF TOTEM by Jiang Rong
by Jiang Rong