HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
Loading...

Under Heaven (edition 2011)

by Guy Gavriel Kay

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,021None8,279 (4.17)138
Member:wagner.sarah35
Title:Under Heaven
Authors:Guy Gavriel Kay
Info:Roc Trade (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fantasy, China, Tang Dynasty, alternative history, horses, war, epic, 2012

Work details

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Recently added byprivate library, Kat_Hooper, KristinaGiovanni, lmm161, jimmcd, tamoui, lizzyg, seehuhn
2010 (18) alternate history (16) audiobook (5) Canadian (15) Canadian author (7) China (105) ebook (17) fantasy (260) fiction (110) ghosts (12) hardcover (5) historical (26) historical fantasy (47) historical fiction (57) horses (13) Kindle (11) novel (8) own (6) politics (8) read (9) read in 2010 (10) sf (11) sff (11) signed (14) speculative fiction (7) Tang Dynasty (24) to-read (48) unread (11) war (11) wishlist (9)
  1. 110
    The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay (Anonymous user)
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 22
    Bridge of Birds: A Novel of Ancient China That Never Was by Barry Hughart (Cecrow, MyriadBooks)
    Cecrow: Another fantasy take on ancient China.
  5. 00
    The Paladin by C. J. Cherryh (Anonymous user)
  6. 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.
  7. 26
    A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (axelsabro)
    axelsabro: alternate earth fantasy
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 138 mentions

English (79)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest historical fantasy, Under Heaven, is gorgeous. If you’re already a fan of GGK, you know exactly what kind of delight you’re in for. Under Heaven is every bit as wonderful as Tigana, A Song for Arbonne, and The Last Light of the Sun. Every bit.

Under Heaven takes place in Kitai — an alternate Tang Dynasty (but not so alternate that you won’t recognize the names of many of the characters if you read just a brief history of the Tang Dynasty). The civilization and culture is experiencing a golden age and family honor is one of the highest ideals. Shen Tai, in order to honor his dead father, has spent two solitary years burying the bones — and silencing the ghosts — of thousands of men who died in a battle between Kitai and neighboring Tagur. Just as his mourning period is about to end, three strange things happen almost simultaneously: a friend shows up with urgent news from the capital city Xinan, an assassin is sent to kill Shen Tai, and the princess of Tagur gives Shen Tai 250 Sardian horses — an incomprehensibly valuable gift that instantly catapults him to the highest ranks of Xinan society. Now Shen Tai must journey back to Xinan, he’s got assassins on his tail, he doesn’t know who he can trust, and he has no idea that war is brewing and his return may be the catalyst.

I’ve already said that Under Heaven is just as gorgeous as Kay’s previous historical fantasies: It’s well-researched, carefully constructed, tightly plotted, and beautifully written. The mingling of the real and the magical is delicate — there are no wizards or wands, but just the acknowledgment of the existence of the supernatural and the weird. Most impressively, GGK’s work is always full of poetry, passion, and life. His characters, those who play major roles and minor ones, feel like real people and, whether we like them or not, we come to understand their histories, motivations, frustrations, and desires. We smile when they laugh, our hearts race when they’re afraid, and we cry when they mourn.

Another feature that sets Kay’s historical fantasies apart from others is his ability to completely immerse us in a real culture without telling us that he’s doing so. Some historical writers feel the need to drop names, exposit, and lecture. In contrast, Guy Gavriel Kay brings a historical period to life without making us feel like we’re reading a textbook or that we’re required to admire his research and knowledge. Since we spend most of our time in Mr. Kay’s characters’ heads, I also appreciate that these characters are all fictional (Mr. Kay explains why he does it this way in the introduction and I completely agree with his philosophy).

I read Penguin Audio’s version of Under Heaven, narrated by Simon Vance. For years Mr. Vance has been one of my favorite narrators, and he’s wonderful here, as usual. If you’re an audiobook reader, you’ll definitely want to try this version read by the incomparable Mr. Vance. Regardless, you don’t want to miss Under Heaven — it may be the best fantasy novel of 2010. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
GGK has presented a fine example of his work. Almost sounding like a translation from the Chinese, he presents a story of a rebellion, both in the larger field, as monstrous egos commit monstrous crimes, and the personal, as a coming of age story is presented, balanced a number of adult themes very well.
Set in a Tang China (more or less), we have a protagonist, who having come up with a noble way of following his own heritage, is presented with dizzying possibilities. The mighty, and the greedy gather round, and the bulk of the book deals with all the manoeuvers that occur even before the gift is delivered. Strong characters, and a well realised world keep the reader on board until we gain, along with our hero, enough wisdom to negotiate the politics of the time, and their consequences, personal and national. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 27, 2014 |
I can always count on Kay to engage and delight me. One of my very favorite authors. ( )
  dogwooddenizen | Jan 7, 2014 |
Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my favorite authors, but the lyrical prose I've enjoyed so much previously was almost the undoing of Under Heaven. As he states in the afterward, the poetry of T'ang Dynasty China was a major inspiration for this novel but it seemed to me that he tried too hard to infuse some of that poetry into his prose.

Tai would wonder about this later, too. If the world as it went forward from that day might have been otherwise has another leader and his fifty men been shifted to the northern route from the congested highway to Xinan.
There are always branches along paths.
Under Heaven p. 491

Repetitious statements like that last sentence are sometime affecting, but they appear too often in Under Heaven and read like interjections from the author reminding the reader what they should feeling or thinking.

I still enjoyed the book and as with all of Kay's historical-fantasy, I was left deeply interested in the real history of the time period he is using. In an amazing body of work, however, Under Heaven ranks well below other works, such as [b:Sailing to Sarantium|104097|Sailing to Sarantium (The Sarantine Mosaic, #1)|Guy Gavriel Kay|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171506639s/104097.jpg|1336666] or [b:The Summer Tree|104086|The Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry, #1)|Guy Gavriel Kay|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171506609s/104086.jpg|3238632]. ( )
  thermopyle | Dec 13, 2013 |
Wonderful book set in, like much of Kay's writing, in a place that is very close to our world (in this case ancient China), but not quite our world. The central them regards responsibility, what is a son's duty to his dead father, what is his duty to his country and emperor, what is the daughter's duty to her family. All of these questions get tangled up when the son of a dead general mourns his father by going to the scene of his father's greatest victory (on the border) and spends two years burying the bones of the tens of thousands of dead soldiers on both sides. His act causes the queen of the neighboring country (the other side in the war) to give him a gift of some very special and valuable horses. What he does with them sets off events that shape his life and take his country in a totally new direction. Wonderful book. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy Gavriel Kayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

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
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Award-winning author Guy Kay evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China in a story of honor and power.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
270 wanted
6 pay2 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.17)
0.5
1 2
1.5
2 5
2.5
3 34
3.5 31
4 99
4.5 37
5 100

Audible.com

An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 89,502,577 books! | Top bar: Always visible