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Under Heaven

by Guy Gavriel Kay

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Under Heaven (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,5881047,900 (4.11)222
Award-winning author Guy Kay evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China in a story of honor and power.
  1. 130
    The Lions of al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay (Anonymous user)
  2. 10
    Shogun by James Clavell (ajwseven)
  3. 10
    A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham (souloftherose)
  4. 32
    Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart (Cecrow, MyriadBooks)
    Cecrow: A more playful fantasy take on ancient China.
  5. 10
    The Court of the Lion: A Novel of the T'Ang Dynasty by Eleanor Cooney (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A historical fiction novel of the Tang Dynasty, ably relating the same events upon which 'Under Heaven' is based but in their actual Chinese setting.
  6. 00
    The Paladin by C. J. Cherryh (Anonymous user)
  7. 00
    In Love with the Way: Chinese Poems of the Tang Dynasty (The Calligrapher's Notebooks) by François Cheng (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: A historical novel about a Tang poet and the poetry of the period. If you like one, you should try the other
  8. 02
    Wildfire by Sarah Micklem (lottpoet)
    lottpoet: I think these books have in common a person caught up in the machinations of a highly formal society.
  9. 36
    A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (axelsabro)
    axelsabro: alternate earth fantasy
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» See also 222 mentions

English (103)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
Long and wandering.... I enjoyed it, and Kay's writing is quite nice, but it wasn't compelling at all. No urgency to it. ( )
  JenniferElizabeth2 | Aug 25, 2020 |
At some point while writing this lengthy, evocative, and beautiful account of Tang Dynasty China, Mr. Kay forgot to put in a PLOT.

He is also getting seriously lazy. Exposition does nearly all the work in this book. It's practically criminal that he took such a promising setting and a potentially interesting cast of characters and didn't do anything at all with them. ( )
  RJ_Stevenson | Aug 19, 2020 |
This was beautifully written but rather odd for fantasy in that I am used to the protagonist making a difference in the world - usually saving it - instead of really just being a spectator to major world events. And the two women who are semi-main characters do exactly nothing. Weird. ( )
  Griffin22 | Jul 27, 2020 |
Whenever I read a modern Kay novel, I always struggle trying to classify them.

In all normal respects, they read like classic historical novels set in culturally lush times, peppered with rich characterizations, and steeped in really classy, nearly (or fully) poetical language.

But this ISN'T a novel of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. It may feel like it, read like it, and have a truly heartbreaking setup that seems rather unique to the period, but it ISN'T historical fiction.

It is fantasy. Plain and simple. Made up era, made up world, (even tho it has a moon quite like ours), and enough references to make it FEEL like its a history we ought to KNOW.

And that isn't a problem, per se, but it's only fantasy in the worldbuilding. No magic. Just a fully realized world.

And this is very much a beautiful world. Saying anything more would still do it not enough justice.

I personally prefer a bit more magic in my fantasies, but that's only MY preference. I really loved the characters and the rambling progression of plot. Who knew that getting a gift of 250 horses for performing an act of charity for the dead could bring one SO MUCH TROUBLE?
( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Story about the Tan Dynasty and eighty-century China. The great country of Kitai is struggling with neighbours. A main character Shen Tai is mourning the loss of his father who was a general and is gifted with an extravagant figt of 250 Sardian horses that suddenly makes him notorious and illustrious and he has to come to terms with he is drawn into the court intrigue. It is followed by River of Stars that takes place two hundred years later at the end off the Song Dynasty which decried the earlier period of warfare and focused on the arts, to their great peril. ( )
  CarolBurrows | Dec 27, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy Gavriel Kayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Springett, MartinMapsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
With bronze as a mirror one can correct one's appearance; with history as a mirror, one can understand the rise and fall of a state; with good men as a mirror, one can distinguish right from wrong.
—LI SHIMIN, TANK EMPEROR TAIZONG
Dedication
to Sybil,
with love
First words
Amid the ten thousand noises and the jade-and-gold and the whirling dust of Xinan, he had often stayed awake all night among friends, drinking spiced wine in the North District with the courtesans.
Quotations
And it isn't worth hating. It really isn't. . . . You did need to decide what mattered, and concentrate on that. Otherwise your life force would be scattered to the five directions, and wasted.

He would be among them today. And he couldn't learn that rhythm, not in the time he had. So he wouldn't even try. He'd go another way, like a holy wanderer of the Sacred Path choosing at a fork in the road, following his own truth, a hermit laughing in the mountains.
Sometimes fear is proper. It is what we do that matters.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Award-winning author Guy Kay evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China in a story of honor and power.

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Book description
An epic historical adventure set in a pseudo 8th century China, from the author of the 2008 World Fantasy winner, Ysabel. Under Heaven is a novel of heroes, assassins, concubines and emperors set against a majestic and unforgiving landscape.

For two long years Shen Tai has mourned his father, living like a hermit at the edge of the Kitan Empire, next to a great lake where a terrible battle was fought between the Kitai and the neighbouring Tagurans years before; a battle for which his father - a great general - was honoured, but never recovered from, and where the bones of 40,000 soldiers still lie exposed. To assuage some of his dead father's regret over the battle, Tai begins to bury the dead. His supplies are replenished by his own people from a nearby fort, and also - now that peace has been bought with the bartering of an imperial princess - by the Tagurans, for his long service to their dead. His seclusion is disturbed by a letter from the bartered Princess Cheng-wan. It contains a poisoned chalice: Tai has been gifted 250 Sardian horses for his service to the Taguran dead - highly-prized animals, long-desired by the Kitans for their cavalry. The owner of such a vast number would instantly be bestowed with great power and wealth. The horses are being held for him to claim, but getting to them alive, will be tricky. And that isn't Tai's only problem. As he makes ready to leave, another visitor arrives; this time from Xinan, his home in the south. Yan, Tai's childhood carousing companion, has made the colossal journey north with only a hired Kanlin guard for safety. The soft-bellied poet has risked so much because the news he carries is urgent; but before he can so much as greet his old friend, Yan is slaughtered by his Kanlin guard, who then turns her swords towards a defenceless Tai. The Princess's generosity has made Tai a target, but who wanted to kill him even before news of her gift had spread?

(c) Harper Collins
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