“River of Stars” by Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc, 2013)

River of Stars
starstarstarstarstar

In River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay returns to the same world as he did with Under Heaven inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty, but jumps 400 years ahead and presents one of his own unique partly historical fiction, partly fantasy novels, this time inspired by the Song Dynasty. River of Stars is another great example of Kay’s lyrical writing and creative talent, making it no surprise he is a bestselling author with many readers worldwide.

Ren Daiyan was just a boy when he was ordered out on a mission to protect a magistrate and when besieged by highwaymen fought and killed them all in cold blood. It changed him, made him advance beyond his years and see the world and his life in a new way. From that moment he was different and never returned home, taking a new path. He finds himself joining a group of outlaws, becoming a Robin Hood type character, feared by those rich nobles who must travel throughout Kitai to serve the emperor.

Lln Shan is a beautiful woman and the daughter of a scholar who has educated her in ways most women never are. She is a talented songwriter and calligrapher who soon earns the interest of the emperor. She finds herself uprooted from her simple life and transported to one of lavish opulence in the city of the emperor, but it is one she is quite inexperienced with and must learn the complex politics and ways that a noble woman should perform.

As factions pit against each other and a war begins to brew in the north, Ren finds himself drawn to the wondrous city of Xinan and then Hanjin as he begins to serve the emperor in the army, doing what must be done to preserve the peace and the empire. He also meets a beautiful and talented woman by the name of Lln Shan.

River of Stars is well named, as it takes the reader on a literary pleasure cruise along a river of words and images, transporting them back in time to this great period of luxury and decadence, but also harshness. Kay does a good job of showing the various classes and levels of society, making this world seem not that different from our own, and certainly a relateable one. He also introduces his quasi-fantasy element; giving scenes and events a supernatural and spiritual feel that go beyond the mundane. Fans of Kay will delight in River of Stars, and for those looking to try the talented writer for the first time, this is a worthy example.

Originally written on September 23, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of River of Stars from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Under Heaven  Ysabel  Lord of Emperors

Bookbanter Column: Get Lost in a Good Fantasy Series Part 8: The Sarantine Mosaic (October 12, 2012)

Bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay got his start in writing in an unusual way, working more as an editor with Christopher Tolkien on the numerous volumes of Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth material J R. R. Tolkien wrote during his lifetime.

His first published series was the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, which falls into a lot of the pitfalls of a stereotypical fantasy series with some weak characters.

But with the release of Tigana in 1991, he began a journey through many worlds and stories with many more books, which are all kind of linked. Tigana is a quasi-medieval Italy, but with alternate, with numerous fantasy elements.

A Song for Arbonne is alternate-medieval France. The Lions of Al-Rassan is sort of medieval Spain. And The Last Light of the Sun is from the time of the Vikings, in a story you likely haven’t read about before.

And then there’s The Sarantine Mosaic, a duology written about the time of the great city of Byzantium with its powerful king and queen, and the chariot races, and the magic that existed there.

These two books, Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors, do an excellent job of showing Kay at his best blending historical fact and fiction with fantasy and easily transport the reader to another world.

In 2010, Guy Gavriel Kay released Under Heaven, a Chinese historical fiction novel with fantasy elements set in the 8th century Tang Dynasty, and plans to release River of Stars in 2013 set approximately 350-400 years after Under Heaven.

Sailing to Sarantium

Sailing to Sarantium, the first in the two-part Sarantine Mosaic, is a picturesque and moving adventure of ancient Byzantium, with Guy Gavriel Kay writing at his best.

This is the story of a talented mosaicist, Crispin, who has lost his wife and children to the plague and is looking for something new in his life.  He is delivered this opportunity, a chance to create something, a project in the distant and renowned city of Sarantium.

As this is the first part of a two-book series, Kay spends a healthy amount of time exploring his main character and exploring the world he has created, which is a lot like that of the ancient world, but also a wonderful fabrication of Kay’s imagination.  Crispin experiences much on his journey to Sarantium: the meeting of an alchemist, a slave girl, and an epiphany where he perhaps comes face to face with an ancient god.  The events serve to change Crispin’s outlook on life, but also to let the reader in on his experiences and ideology.

In Sarantium, he tries to keep to himself and his work, but finds himself drawn into political factions, the emperor’s court, and becomes part of the many who seemingly worship the hippodrome and the great chariot races, whose riders are seen as heroes.  

Sailing to Sarantium is a great example of Kay’s creative writing, his strong and interesting characters, and his imagined but quite believable world.

Lord of Emperors

In the concluding volume of the Sarantine Mosaic, after Sailing to Sarantium, we continue where we left off: talented mosaicist Crispin, now Imperial Mosaicist to Valerius II, is working on a magnificent dome for the Emperor and Empress of Sarantium (a fantasy version of ancient Byzantium and Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora).

But because this is a large, complicated city, and Crispin is now an important person, he finds himself unavoidably inveigled in plots and conspiracies, as the Emperor plans for a war in Crispin’s homeland.  Then a new character enters the play, Rustem of Kerkakek, a physician from the eastern desert kingdom of Bassania; a reward for saving his emperor’s life.

Now Sarantium has a host of unusual citizens, while Crispin keeps his allies together – a slave girl and mistress, the exiled queen of Antae, Gisel, and this new and enigmatic character, Rustem.

Guy Gavriel Kay continues to build on the momentum and creativity of Sailing to Sarantium, but also introduces new and interesting characters, as well as creating new plotlines that weren’t visible in the first book.

He does what is key to a sequel: building on the story already established, but at the same time taking the reader down new and undiscovered avenues.

Originally published on Forces of Geek.

Bookbanter Column: Get Lost in a Good Fantasy Series, Part 8: The Sarantine Mosaic

Get Lost in a Good Fantasy Series, Part 8:
The Sarantine Mosaic

But with the release of Tigana in 1991, he began a journey through many worlds and stories with many more books, which are all kind of linked. Tigana is a quasi-medieval Italy, but with alternate, with numerous fantasy elements.

A Song for Arbonne is alternate-medieval France. The Lions of Al-Rassan is sort of medieval Spain. And The Last Light of the Sun is from the time of the Vikings, in a story you likely haven’t read about before.

And then there’s The Sarantine Mosaic, a duology written about the time of the great city of Byzantium with its powerful king and queen, and the chariot races, and the magic that existed there.Bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay got his start in writing in an unusual way, working more as an editor with Christopher Tolkien on the numerous volumes of Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth material J R. R. Tolkien wrote during his lifetime.

His first published series was the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, which falls into a lot of the pitfalls of a stereotypical fantasy series with some weak characters.

[CONTINUE READING . . .]

World Fantasy Nominees

World Fantasy Award nominees are up (you can find more info here).  Reviews and interviews are linked below!

 

Best Novel

Best Novella

  • Bone and Jewel Creatures, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
  • The Broken Man, Michael Byers (PS)
  • “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon”, Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)
  • The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon (ChiZine)
  • “The Mystery Knight”, George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
  • “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer 2010)

Best Short Fiction

  • “Beautiful Men” , Christopher Fowler (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts)
  • “Booth’s Ghost”, Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
  • “Ponies”, Kij Johnson (Tor.com 11/17/10)
  • “Fossil-Figures”, Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)
  • “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us”, Mercurio D. Rivera (Black Static 8-9/10)

Best Anthology

  • The Way of the Wizard, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Prime)
  • My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, Kate Bernheimer, ed. (Penguin)
  • Haunted Legends, Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas, eds. (Tor)
  • Stories: All-New Tales, Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, eds. (Morrow; Headline Review)
  • Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, S.T. Joshi, ed. (PS)
  • Swords & Dark Magic, Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders, eds. (Eos)

Best Anthology

  • What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)
  • The Ammonite Violin & Others, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
  • Holiday, M. Rickert (Golden Gryphon)
  • Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
  • The Third Bear, Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon)

Best Artist

  • Vincent Chong
  • Kinuko Y. Craft
  • Richard A. Kirk
  • John Picacio
  • Shaun Tan

Special Award, Professional

Special Award, Non-Professional

  • Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith, & Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
  • Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
  • Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
  • Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
  • Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF Blog

2011 Locus Award Winners

The 2011 Locus Award winners have been announced.  For the Science Fiction novel category, Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis won, which I really think I’m going to have to check out now.  Kraken by China Mieville won, which I read and didn’t think was that great or incredible (I actually think Mieville gets a little too much praise and recognition that what he deserves from what I’ve read of him), and honestly I loved the other nominated novel, Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay far more.  Super congratulations to N. K. Jemisin for winning First Novel for Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, totally deserved it!  And Warriors edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois won for best anthology, which is good, because it was a truly great anthology.

BookBanter Book reviews and interviews are mentioned and linked next to the author and/or title.

 

Science Fiction Novel

Fantasy Novel

First Novel

Young Adult Book

Novella

  • WINNER: The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
  • Bone and Jewel Creatures, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
  • “The Mystery Knight”’, George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
  • “Troika”, Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines)
  • “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window’”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’10)

Novelette

  • WINNER: “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains”, Neil Gaiman (Stories)
  • “The Fool Jobs”, Joe Abercrombie (Swords & Dark Magic)
  • “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter”, Theodora Goss (Strange Horizons 1/18-1/25/10)
  • “Plus or Minus”, James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s 12/10)
  • “Marya and the Pirate”, Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s 1/10)

Short Story

  • WINNER: “The Thing About Cassandra”, Neil Gaiman (Songs of Love and Death)
  • “Booth’s Ghost”, Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
  • “Names for Water”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 10-11/10)
  • “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time”, Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld 8/10)
  • “The Things”, Peter Watts (Clarkesworld 1/10)

Magazine

  • WINNER: Asimov’s
  • Analog
  • F&SF
  • Subterranean
  • Tor.com

Publisher

  • WINNER: Tor
  • Baen
  • Night Shade Books
  • Orbit
  • Subterranean Press

Anthology

Collection

Editor

  • WINNER: Ellen Datlow
  • Gardner Dozois
  • Gordon Van Gelder
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Jonathan Strahan

Artist

  • WINNER: Shaun Tan
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Donato Giancola
  • John Picacio
  • Michael Whelan

Non-fiction

Art Books

Pulled from TOR.com

2011 Locus Award Finalists

And the Locus Award Finalists for 2011 have been announced.  Interviews with BookBanter are linked and indicated, while book reviews are linked via the book cover.

Science Fiction Novel

Surface Detail, Iain M. Banks (Orbit UK; Orbit US)
Cryoburn, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
Zero History, William Gibson (Putnam; Viking UK)
The Dervish House, Ian McDonald (Pyr; Gollancz)
Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis (Spectra)

Fantasy Novel

Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay [BookBanter interview] (Penguin Canada; Roc)
Under Heaven

Kraken, China Miéville (Macmillan UK; Del Rey)
Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
The Fuller Memorandum, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
The Sorcerer’s House, Gene Wolfe (Tor)

First Novel

The Loving Dead, Amelia Beamer (Night Shade)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin [BookBanter interview] (Orbit UK; Orbit US)

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi (Gollancz; Tor)
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu (Pantheon)

Young Adult Book

Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)

Mockingjay
Enchanted Glass, Diana Wynne Jones (HarperCollins UK; Greenwillow)
I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett (Gollancz; HarperCollins)
Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)

Novella

Bone and Jewel Creatures, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
“The Mystery Knight”’, George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
Warriors
“Troika”, Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines)
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window’”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’10)

Novelette

“The Fool Jobs”, Joe Abercrombie (Swords & Dark Magic)
“The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains”, Neil Gaiman (Stories)
“The Mad Scientist’s Daughter”, Theodora Goss (Strange Horizons 1/18-1/25/10)
“Plus or Minus”, James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s 12/10)
“Marya and the Pirate”, Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s 1/10)

Short Story

“Booth’s Ghost”, Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
“The Thing About Cassandra”, Neil Gaiman (Songs of Love and Death)
“Names for Water”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 10-11/10)
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time”, Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld 8/10)
“The Things”, Peter Watts (Clarkesworld 1/10)

Magazine

Analog
Asimov’s
F&SF
Subterranean
Tor.com

Publisher

Baen
Night Shade Books
Orbit
Subterranean Press
Tor

Anthology

Zombies vs. Unicorns, Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier, eds. (McElderry)
The Beastly Bride, Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, eds. (Viking)
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s)
Warriors, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Tor)

Warriors

Swords & Dark Magic, Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders, eds. (HarperCollins)

Collection

Mirror Kingdoms, Peter S. Beagle (Subterranean)
What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)
Fritz Leiber: Selected Stories, Fritz Leiber (Night Shade)
The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson, Kim Stanley Robinson (Night Shade)
The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny: Volume Five: Nine Black Doves, Roger Zelazny (NESFA)

Editor

Ellen Datlow
Gardner Dozois [BookBanter interview]
Gordon Van Gelder
David G. Hartwell
Jonathan Strahan

Artist

Bob Eggleton
Donato Giancola
John Picacio
Shaun Tan
Tales From Outer Suburbia

Michael Whelan

Non-fiction

80! Memories & Reflections on Ursula K. Le Guin, Karen Joy Fowler & Debbie Notkin, eds. (Aqueduct)
Conversations with Octavia Butler, Conseula Francis (University Press of Mississippi)
Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1: 1907-1948: Learning Curve, William H. Patterson, Jr., (Tor)
CM Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary, Mark Rich (McFarland)
Bearings: Reviews 1997-2001, Gary K. Wolfe (Beccon)

Art Books

Bob Eggleton, Dragon’s Domain (Impact)
Spectrum 17, Cathy & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood)
Donato Giancola, Middle-Earth: Visions of a Modern Myth (Underwood)
Shaun Tan, The Bird King and Other Sketches (Windy Hollow)
Charles Vess & Neil Gaiman, Instructions (Harper)

“Lord of Emperors” by Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc, 2010)

Lord of Emperors
starstarstarstar

In the concluding volume of the Sarantine Mosaic, after Sailing to Sarantium, we continue where we left off: talented mosaicist Crispin, now Imperial Mosaicist to Valerius II, is working on a magnificent dome for the Emperor and Empress of Sarantium (a fantasy version of ancient Byzantium and Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora).  But because this is a large, complicated city, and Crispin is now an important person, he finds himself unavoidably inveigled in plots and conspiracies, as the Emperor plans for a war in Crispin’s homeland.  Then a new character enters the play, Rustem of Kerkakek, a physician from the eastern desert kingdom of Bassania; a reward for saving his emperor’s life.  Now Sarantium has a host of unusual citizens, while Crispin keeps his allies together – a slave girl and mistress, the exiled queen of Antae, Gisel, and this new and enigmatic character, Rustem.

Guy Gavriel Kay continues to build on the momentum and creativity of Sailing to Sarantium, but also introduces new and interesting characters, as well as creating new plotlines that weren’t visible in the first book.  He does what is key to a sequel: building on the story already established, but at the same time taking the reader down new and undiscovered avenues.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on October 27, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Sailing to Sarantium” by Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc, 2010)

Sailing to Sarantium
starstarstarstar

Sailing to Sarantium, the first in the two-part Sarantine Mosaic, is a picturesque and moving adventure of ancient Byzantium, with Guy Gavriel Kay writing at his best. This is the story of a talented mosaicist, Crispin, who has lost his wife and children to the plague and is looking for something new in his life.  He is delivered this opportunity, a chance to create something, a project in the distant and renowned city of Sarantium.  As this is the first part of a two-book series, Kay spends a healthy amount of time exploring his main character and exploring the world he has created, which is a lot like that of the ancient world, but also a wonderful fabrication of Kay’s imagination.  Crispin experiences much on his journey to Sarantium: the meeting of an alchemist, a slave girl, and an epiphany where he perhaps comes face to face with an ancient god.  The events serve to change Crispin’s outlook on life, but also to let the reader in on his experiences and ideology.  In Sarantium, he tries to keep to himself and his work, but finds himself drawn into political factions, the emperor’s court, and becomes part of the many who seemingly worship the hippodrome and the great chariot races, whose riders are seen as heroes.  Sailing to Sarantium is a great example of Kay’s creative writing, his strong and interesting characters, and his imagined but quite believable world.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on October 26, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

10/2 On the Bookshelf . . . “Handling the Undead,” “Lord of Emperors” & “Sailing to Sarantium”

Handling the Undead Lord of Emperors Sailing to Sarantium

And we have the next book from John Ajvide Lindqvist after Let the Right One In, a zombie novel set in Stockholm which I simply couldn’t resist.  And the two books to the Sarantine Mosaic, in my opinion Guy Gavriel Kay’s best work, in this beautiful new quality paperback editions.

“Under Heaven” by Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc, 2010)

Under Heavenstarstarstarstar

It’s been three years since fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay published his last book, which was a change from his usual fantasy epics that involve a historical period with an alternate twist.  In Under Heaven he returns to what readers known him best for, writing on the period of the Tang Dynasty in China of the 7th to 10th centuries.  Of course, it is not exactly the history of the Tang Dynasty, but Kay’s own created world, with an invented map and invented names for towns and cities.  The result is a magical, moving novel of almost six hundred pages that sweeps you back to this enchanting moment in history when there was fighting for land and wealth, but also beauty in art and poetry.  Under Heaven is Guy Gavriel Kay at his best.

Guy Gavriel Kay is not looking to simply tell a history story of the Tang Dynasty, nor is it to be an alternate history, but an original story of art and love and culture.  Shen Tai is the son of a renowned general who served the Emperor of Kitai.  He has spent the last two years by the blue waters of Kuala Nor where twenty years ago a great battle was waged and forty thousand men were slain.  Tai passes his days burying the dead from both armies and mourning in his way, for his father, General Shen Gao.  But Tai is in for a surprise; his duty to his country has been recognized.  The 17th daughter of the Emperor of Kitai, the White Jade Princess rewards him with 250 Sardian horses; a gift of priceless wealth.  Yet while this reward elevates Tai to a high status of extreme wealth, it is also tempered with how he will be able to collect his reward, and those who will stop at nothing to get their hands on those horses.

Guy Gavriel Kay reveals his true ability as a gifted writer in Under Heaven, using a colorful, descriptive style as he reveals this medieval world of culture and art, as well as politics and intrigue.  One learns through the eyes of Tai what it is to be a high-ranking noble in this world, how one should act at all times – as well as when in the presence of the emperor – and what it’s like to be constantly watched by a bodyguard as an assassin slinks nearby.  Under Heaven will capture you from the very beginning and transport you back to this magical time, making you never want to return to your own world.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on June 8 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.