Review of River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

River of Stars - Guy Gavriel KayRiver of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Roc Hardcover; 1 edition (April 2, 2013) 

In his latest book River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay returns to the empire of Kitai several centuries following Under Heaven. While it is not necessary to have read Under Heaven before this book, it does provide some historical context of where the empire is now compared to where it was before.

The great empire of Kitai is in decline. The emperor is more concerned with the arts and with building his magnificent garden that he tends to ignore the fact his empire is under threat from rebellious factions. Kay does a nice job with the cultural aspects and historical details in the novel. The court intrigue and social interactions of the characters brings the Song dynasty alive.

Ren Daiyan is the protagonist of the novel. His is an outlaw. Forced to band together with other outlaws like himself after killing seven men, Daiyan has dreams of restoring the empire to its once former glory. He wants to be a great military leader.

The other main character is Lin Shan, a daughter of a scholar. Shan is educated in many subjects unusual at the time for women. She is a gifted poet and calligrapher.  Without delving too heavily into the plot, Lin Shan, like Daiyan, plays an important role in the shaping of the ever-changing Kitai empire. 

There are a lot of interesting factors at play in this novel: court politics, war, cultural arts, love. As always, Kay is an exquisite storyteller and great developer of characters. While it might take a bit longer to get into than Under Heaven, Kay’s latest novel is still worth the read.

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My life has been pretty simple. I grew up in Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor's in Advertising. I have spent about the last ten years in web development. In 1998, a friend of mine and I started a web design company we ran for three or four years before deciding to close it due to the demands of school. Since then, I stayed in the web working with various companies in Alabama. I worked for a brief period with Southern Progress, namely with Southern Living magazine and Health magazine, in their web departments. While there, I also wrote for Southern Living magazine,, and the company's internal newsletter. I write as much as I can. For the last five years, I have been working on my first novel. I am on the third revision now and hope to be finished with this draft by the end of the year. I also write short fiction, though not as frequently as I used to due to the time I spend on the novel. My goal is to have my novel published in the next three years. Other interests include: History (particularly medieval and ancient civlizations), Reading, Foreign Language (I currently speak Spanish but plan to learn as many as I can), Landscape Photography, the outdoors, sports (especially college football), and Travel.

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