River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty. Now, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later with an epic of prideful emperors, battling courtiers, bandits and soldiers, nomadic invasions, and a woman battling in her own way, to find a new place for women in the world – a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty.

Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.

Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.

In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

Gorgeous, and matches nicely with the original cover for Under Heaven, the spiritual predecessor for River of Stars. Under Heaven is one of my favourite novels of the last five years, and continues to be a huge inspiration to me as a writer. To say I’m looking forward to River of Stars would be a severe understatement.

  • Justin July 16, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I read UNDER HEAVEN and enjoyed it. I like Kay. But, I have no interest in this. I think perhaps because it’s so similar stylistically to UNDER HEAVEN. I would have preferred seeing him go another direction. We’ll see!

  • Aidan Moher July 16, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Are we gonna have to have a fist fight, Justin?

  • Luke July 16, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Could easily feel completely different from Under Heaven, since it’s set in Song Dynasty analogue, and the other was Tang. Chinese history is pretty diverse.

    Besides, not like the market is flooded with this type of fantasy. Hyped about this as a book in general *and* as a Kay book to see what new directions he takes within a similar context to Under Heaven.

  • GP July 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I’m looking forward to it too!

  • Scott July 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Man, I still have to read the first one. GKK is a bit hit and miss with me (I ADORE THE LIONS OF AL-RASSAN, but could not get into A SONG FOR ARBONNE, and dislike his fantasy trilogy immensely), but I’d be lying if I said I really didn’t want to read his take on ancient China.

  • alabrava July 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

    His Sarantine Mosaic is one of my favorites of all time, I have a soft spot for Fionavar, I read it when I was around 11 or 12 the first time and I come back to it every 5 years or so, even though from a writing standpoint, it has many issues. There are some of his works I enjoy more than others, but there isn’t one I haven’t liked.

  • Clock Rewinders #13 – Once Upon A Time July 22, 2012 at 5:46 am

    […] A Dribble of Ink has interested me a lot this week with an article on why Christopher Tolkien hates the Lord of the Rings films (and looks rather silly in the process) followed by a piece of gorgeous cover art and a synopsis for Guy Gavriel Kay’s River of Stars. […]