The ruling Asharites of Al-Rassan have come from the desert sands, but over centuries, seduced by the sensuous pleasures of their new land, their stern piety has eroded. The Asharite empire has splintered into decadent city-states led by warring petty kings. King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendancy, aided always by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan - poet, diplomat, soldier - until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.
Meanwhile, in the north, the conquered Jaddites' most celebrated - and feared - military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, driven into exile, leads his mercenary company south.
In the dangerous lands of Al-Rassan, these two men from different worlds meet and serve - for a time - the same master. Sharing their interwoven fate - and increasingly torn by her feelings - is Jehane, the accomplished court physician, whose own skills play an increasing role as Al-Rassan is swept to the brink of holy war, and beyond.
Hauntingly evocative of medieval Spain, The Lions of Al-Rassan is both a brilliant adventure and a deeply compelling story of love, divided loyalties, and what happens to men and women when hardening beliefs begin to remake - or destroy - a world.
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Lots of drama
- Kat Hooper
Just As Great As I Expected
I'd say yes, but unfortunately a lot of the names of people and places in this book are phonetically similar to the point of confusion. Only towards the end of the full recording did I begin to finally separate the characters and places in my head. The pacing was also slightly hurried in parts that could use more attention. The reading was fantastic, but after hearing Simon Vance's reading of Tigana, it's hard not to keep such a standard in mind for comparison.
The part of the Echoing Valley. That's all I'll say to not give more away.
It is most definitely a tie between Rodrigo Belmonte and Ammar ibn Khairan. Rodrigo's character was simple on the surface, but his development and the care Euan Morton gave in the reading complimented him well. Where the performer shined was in his portrayal of Ammar. It was sheer poetry in the strictest sense. I can't say enough about these two characters. They both hold a solid place in my heart.
The Circling Paths of Love and War, As traced Across Both Time and The Heavens.
Maybe the people written about in this novel lived in an extraordinary time. I say that because everyone seemed so amazing and so complicated in motivation. At times though, I found myself suspending my disbelief just to go with the momentum of the book. I suppose I'd say that the story is more poetic than realistic. I feel this book would help bridge huge chasms in understanding between different religions and cultures, even those considered extremist and violent. All the cultures portrayed proved to be violent and fearful in their own ways, but then again they all had strong moral and artistic values they held in high esteem just as we all do today. It makes me feel as though my personal belief system could be small-minded, but still valid in it's own right.
There are a lot of authors whose work I read or listen too, but part of me feels like I can truly identify with Guy Gavriel Kay; like we're brothers of a sort, even if we may be from different walks of life. Sometimes his work is a stretch for me, but there's such a poetic depth to it that any small qualms I have can easily be overlooked. I also feel no medium other than printed page or spoken word could do his work justice. Even with the largest budget, putting faces to these (at times) mythical characters would rob them of the power and vitality they hold in in print and in voice.
In short, I recommend this story, but not as much as I recommend _all_ of Mr. Kay's stories. I couldn't wait to get back here to purchase another book. Thanks for reading this far, and I hope that you'll enjoy The Lions of Al-Rassan as much and as truly as I did.