The Lions of al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Eos (June 2005)
Average Customer Review on Amazon: 4.5 stars (108 Reviews)
Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly:
Canadian attorney Kay has eschewed the courtroom thriller for fantasy (A Song for Arbonne, etc.). Here he draws on the crumbling empire of medieval Spain to inspire this tale of brutality and romance. Though the setting is the fictitious Al-Rassan, and there are passing references to the “Star-born,” any ancillary connection with science fiction is almost irrelevant to the story. Kay provides insightful glimpses into the goals and motives of his many characters, including King Almalik of Cartada, his advisor Ammar ibn Khairan, a young soldier, Alvar de Pellino, and the compelling female physician Jehane. Mindful of the confusion that alternate universes can create for readers, Kay is careful to periodically summarize the current positions of the various factions in the struggles between the many kingdoms in the empire. Studded with poetry that is evocative of Spain (some selections are reminiscent of El Cid), the story is buttressed with convincing cultural and social details and descriptions of medicine as it was practiced in the 12th century. Genre fans looking for more romance and strong female character development will find this an engrossing tale.
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Editorial Review from Booklist
Kay’s thoroughly excellent new novel resembles his Song for Arbonne (1992) in that there is no magic in it. Instead, Kay deftly and intelligently bends history at a slightly different angle. The setting is a variant early medieval Spain whose Muslims, Christians, and Jews are also suitably modified. The story turns on the rivalries between the Kingdom of Al-Rassan, once mighty but now split into quarreling principalities, and the kings of the Jaddites. Far to the north, the Jaddites hope to reclaim Al-Rassan, which was once theirs. Into this skillfully imagined, eloquently described stew of war, intrigue, and magnificence happen a warrior from each side and a female physician. The threesome’s adventures constitute the bulk of a long but never padded, demanding but enormously rewarding novel. Roland Green –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.