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Under Heaven

Under Heaven Cover

ISBN13: 9780451463302
ISBN10: 0451463307
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Historical fantasist Kay (Ysabel) delivers an exquisitely detailed vision of Kitan, a land much like Tang Dynasty China. Shen Tai's father died leading troops in battle, so he spends his mourning year burying the bones of soldiers on both sides, laying their ghosts to rest. He attracts the attention of Cheng-wan, a princess of his people sent to wed one of the enemy. As her gifts make Shen Tai wealthy, an assassin kills his best friend. Shen Tai hires a bodyguard, Wei Song, to keep him alive while he figures out what to do with his riches and who wants him dead. Kay writes deftly of women who are sexually suborned by their societies, neither minimizing their constraints nor denying their agency, and the complex intrigues of poets, prostitutes, ministers, and soldiers evolve into a fascinating, sometimes bloody, and entirely believable tale." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

In his latest innovative work, an award-winning author evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China in a story of honor and power.

Synopsis:

An innovative story of honor and power from the award-winning author of Ysabel.

In Under Heaven, Kay tells a story of honor and power, this time in a setting that evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of eighth-century China.

In recognition of his service to the Emperor of Kitai, Shen Tai has been sent a mysterious and dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses. Wisely the gift comes with the stipulation that the horses must be claimed in person. Otherwise, he would probably be dead already.

Synopsis:

View our feature on Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven. In his latest innovative novel, the award-winning author evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China in a story of honor and power.

Inspired by the glory and power of Tang dynasty China, Guy Gavriel Kay has created a masterpiece.

It begins simply. Shen Tai, son of an illustrious general serving the Emperor of Kitai, has spent two years honoring the memory of his late father by burying the bones of the dead from both armies at the site of one of his father's last great battles. In recognition of his labors and his filial piety, an unlikely source has sent him a dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses.

You give a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You give him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.

Wisely, the gift comes with the stipulation that Tai must claim the horses in person. Otherwise he would probably be dead already...

About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay is the internationally bestselling author of twelve novels. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in the literature of the fantastic, is a two-time winner of the Aurora Award, and won the World Fantasy Award for Ysabel in 2008. His works have been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

TKS, January 17, 2011 (view all comments by TKS)
This is vintage Kay: intricate plots within one grand scheme, subtle characterization, pitch-perfect dialog. Kay brings history books to life and writes between the lines, so that his novels devour you whole. His addition of a mystical element is skillful, and adds layers of complexity and beauty to an already fascinating world.

One of the things I love about Kay's "historical fantasy" novels is their evocation of places and times often lost to the non-specialist. In this case, a reader leaves Under Heaven sure that she has lived some time in this world that is not quite T'ang China, and curious to expand her knowledge. More than worthy as itself, Under Heaven is also one of those novels that opens many more doors when you close the cover.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
dforres1, January 2, 2011 (view all comments by dforres1)
This historical fiction novel takes place in China during the eighth century. Under Heaven is an extremely well-told tale.

The story begins with Shen Tai -- the son of a war general -- burying the dead, living by a battlefield. As his supplies are delivered to him, he receives a message: He has been gifted 250 rare Sardian horses. This is a life-changing event, and it could also be a dangerous one. The horses are extremely valuable. After two years spent burying the dead, he leaves his cabin to go back towards the capital.

Kay certainly has a way with words. It's a lyrical style. There's a lot of imagery. It's fairly challenging reading, but it's also very rewarding. At least, it was for me. The writing shifts between exposition and narrative. The narrative voice changes to reflect the viewpoint. There are a few main viewpoints, but it also goes to minor characters to set the stage. It is consistently written with a lot of skill and perceptiveness.

One thing that really stood out to me was how Kay's writing gets you thinking. In this book, the writing strikes a balance between showing and telling. It is very good storytelling. I really liked the narration, and it kept me engaged with the work and deciphering the nuances of it.

Here are some noteworthy points about Under Heaven:

The "Principal Characters" page and the map. These deserve a mention because they are nice to have, particularly at the beginning.
It has a cinematic quality to it. Sometimes a chapter becomes more of a scene. It comes to life.
The interplay of differently stylized passages. There are different styles for different characters or themes. It works.
Finally, the simultaneous interweaving of narrative and history. I thought it was very well done.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Christine Gordon, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Christine Gordon)
Since a friend recommended his work a number of years ago, I have read all of Kay's novels and eagerly anticipate each new one. He writes remarkably complex and interesting stories that illuminate contemporary life even as they reveal his own imagined worlds. His work has never disappointed me.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780451463302
Publisher:
Roc Trade
Subject:
Fantasy - General
Author:
Kay, Guy Gavriel
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Imaginary wars and battles
Subject:
Science Fiction and Fantasy-Fantasy
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110503
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
608
Dimensions:
9.3 x 6.62 x 1.76 in 1.8 lb
Age Level:
17-17

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Fantasy » General

Under Heaven
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 608 pages Roc - English 9780451463302 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Historical fantasist Kay (Ysabel) delivers an exquisitely detailed vision of Kitan, a land much like Tang Dynasty China. Shen Tai's father died leading troops in battle, so he spends his mourning year burying the bones of soldiers on both sides, laying their ghosts to rest. He attracts the attention of Cheng-wan, a princess of his people sent to wed one of the enemy. As her gifts make Shen Tai wealthy, an assassin kills his best friend. Shen Tai hires a bodyguard, Wei Song, to keep him alive while he figures out what to do with his riches and who wants him dead. Kay writes deftly of women who are sexually suborned by their societies, neither minimizing their constraints nor denying their agency, and the complex intrigues of poets, prostitutes, ministers, and soldiers evolve into a fascinating, sometimes bloody, and entirely believable tale." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , In his latest innovative work, an award-winning author evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China in a story of honor and power.
"Synopsis" by ,
An innovative story of honor and power from the award-winning author of Ysabel.

In Under Heaven, Kay tells a story of honor and power, this time in a setting that evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of eighth-century China.

In recognition of his service to the Emperor of Kitai, Shen Tai has been sent a mysterious and dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses. Wisely the gift comes with the stipulation that the horses must be claimed in person. Otherwise, he would probably be dead already.

"Synopsis" by ,

View our feature on Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven. In his latest innovative novel, the award-winning author evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China in a story of honor and power.

Inspired by the glory and power of Tang dynasty China, Guy Gavriel Kay has created a masterpiece.

It begins simply. Shen Tai, son of an illustrious general serving the Emperor of Kitai, has spent two years honoring the memory of his late father by burying the bones of the dead from both armies at the site of one of his father's last great battles. In recognition of his labors and his filial piety, an unlikely source has sent him a dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses.

You give a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You give him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.

Wisely, the gift comes with the stipulation that Tai must claim the horses in person. Otherwise he would probably be dead already...

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