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The King's Last Songby Geoff Ryman
Synopses & Reviews
"[Ryman] has not so much created as revealed a world in which the promise of redemption takes seed even in horror."—The Boston Globe
“Sweeping and beautiful. . . . The complex story tears the veil from a hidden world.”—The Sunday Times
“Inordinately readable . . . extraordinary in its detail, color and brutality.”—The Independent
"Ryman has crafted a solid historical novel with an authentic feel for both ancient and modern Cambodia."
—Washington DC City Paper
“Another masterpiece by one of the greatest fiction writers of our time.”—Kim Stanley Robinson
"Ryman's knack for depicting characters; his ability to tell multiple, interrelated stories; and his knowledge of Cambodian history create a rich narrative that looks at Cambodia's "killing fields" both recent and ancient and Buddhist belief with its desire for transcendence. Recommended for all literary fiction collections."
Archeologist Luc Andrade discovers an ancient Cambodian manuscript inscribed on gold leaves but is kidnapped—and the manuscript stolen—by a faction still loyal to the ideals of the brutal Pol Pot regime. Andrade’s friends, an ex-Khmer Rouge agent and a young motoboy, embark on a trek across Cambodia to rescue him. Meanwhile, Andrade, bargaining for his life, translates the lost manuscript for his captors. The result is a glimpse into the tremendous and heart-wrenching story of King Jayavarman VII: his childhood, rise to power, marriage, interest in Buddhism, and the initiation of Cambodia’s golden age. As Andrade and Jayavarman’s stories interweave, the question becomes whether the tale of ancient wisdom can bring hope to a nation still suffering from the violent legacy of the last century.
Geoff Ryman is the author of the novels Air (winner of Arthur C Clarke and James Tiptree awards) and The Unconquered Country (a World Fantasy Award winner). Canadian by birth, he has lived in Cambodia and Brazil and now teaches creative writing at the University of Manchester in England.
"After thriving in science fiction (the Arthur C. Clarke Award — winning Air), Ryman takes on the political history of Cambodia in this unsettling if overlong novel. In 2004, U.N. archeologist Luc Andrade discovers a 12th-century memoir written by Jayavarman Seven, one of the first Buddhist kings of a predominantly Hindu kingdom. While transporting the book to safety, Luc is kidnapped by a disgruntled Cambodian army lieutenant-colonel who believes the book should be returned to the people. As Luc fights to stay alive, his Cambodian friends — Map, a former Khmer Rouge murderer who now makes money hustling tourists, and William, a motorcycle taxi driver whose parents were killed during Pol Pot's regime — search for Luc and the ancient treasure. Ryman mixes his contemporary storyline with a less compelling narrative of Jayavarman, a precocious young prince turned exiled warrior king. While Luc's life story and current predicament are particularly well done, Ryman's take on Jayavarman and the development of his battle strategies can be plodding. In the end, it's the vibrant emotional lives of Luc and his friends that capture the tragic beauty of Cambodia. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Can a twelfth-century Cambodian king's sense of compassion and justice translate to the present?
About the Author
Geoff Ryman is the author of the novels Air (Clarke and Tiptree Award winner) and The Unconquered Country (World Fantasy Award winner). Canadian by birth, he has lilved in Cambodia and Brazil and now teaches creative writing at the University of Manchester in England.
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