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Guy Gavriel Kay ( Kindle ePUB Pdf ) River of Stars

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T 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 exuisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far 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 sta. Returning to Kay s richly drawn worlds is like falling into poetry extensively researched history and the becoming one with the horrors that beset these wonderful contemporary protagonistsI m tempted to call this silkpunk but I must admit there is almost no fantasy and definitely no SF in it Instead it is just an immersive look at what could be the Song Dynasty 400 years after the original novel Under Heaven that resembled the Tang DynastyThis is historical escapism at its bestA educated woman making her way doing the best she can in this world A hero warrior turned bandit and later becoming the spark to ravage the land in civil war The only thing I could do was float away in the text

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River of Stars

“River of Stars is a major accomplishment the work of a master novelist in full command of his subject” Michael Dirda in The Washington Post“Game of Thrones in China” SaloncomRen Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate That moment on a lonely road changed his life in entirely unexpected ways sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws From. What is it to fall out of love It is has been a long time since I ve done it and so I don t remember From what I recall it was something unconscious for a long time Something in your turn of phrase in the explanations that you seek out and find the articles you share and how often you choose to go to bed early I remember it being full of protestations a passion that was stronger than I felt and heavy with tears The music I remember is always on constant repeat and probably confused by memories of soundtracks that sound like what I thought I ought to have felt Then the crazy part the whole story collapsing in a rush like a child running through the bricks of a castle they have painstakingly constructed and then at the last minute had doubts about It s the sort of threatening story that needs to be buried and forgotten until years later when you can bear to look at the ruins that you ve of course saved one timeIn Persuasion Anne argues with a sailor about the constancy of men and women s love and claims for her sex the privilege of loving longest long past when all hope has gone I have no interest in making generalized assumptions about female kind but I will say that I do this I do this for the sake of what has come before I do this with people with friendships that have long since failed to be anything but pantomime and re enactment and with formerly awe inspiring idols who turned and showed me their zippers a long time agoI also do this with art music and especially with books It s been a long time since I ve fallen out of love with a person book movie or thing that has been a long standing favorite At least that is become disenchanted with it in a way that is a conscious deliberate process when I wasn t uite sure that was what I wanted rather than a slow natural and gentle falling away that makes total sense and offers no conflict of understanding or sense of having the rug pulled out from under me But that streak is overKay s books have been on my favorites pile for over a decade now In and of themselves they are not perhaps worth this depth of feeling now that I reconsider them They are comfort reads things I reach for when I want a tale told by a fireside on a winter s night or on a lazy summer afternoon But they are one of those names An immediate touchstone when I m asked for favorites something that hit me at the right time and lead me a lot of other places There s a lot to love in his books He is a writer who always wanted to be a poet and that shows positively in his writing The imagery can be beautiful and his settings lush and detailed His habit of drawing from archetypes and connecting each of his books in a dream alternate universe of history serves him well Since he stated his worship for the Old Stories in his first trilogy Fionavar he s done a lovely job deconstructing each legend or tale down into the parts that matter What I have loved about his writing is what I thought the point of this exploration was to take the importance off the words and events and put it back where it matters on the humans involved Who are the people whose names turn up in history s famous and turbulent times Why do they make the choices that they do Are they another race of heroes and Great Men or people in a particular situation who decided to be brave that one time He did a great job making things make sense from a everyday practical angle while still keeping the mystery awe and adventure that makes these stories fun to hear to begin with He added to the experienceBut not any At least not with his last couple of books Since Ysabel it seems like the focus has shifted The lens is no longer as much about bringing out the characters from the tapestry and giving them three dimensions It seems like now he s decided his deconstruction is about the structure of the tale itself He uses his usual methods of looking at an important time through the people who lived it but the point no longer seems to be to illuminate these characters as they are and where they are Now it seems like it s about telling me a tired old story and sing it to comment on the nature of storytelling and its differences from history myth and legend We re not being taken inside the depths to see what it s like living there any We re back on the outside again just like Fionavar looking in at people we don t understand who make no sense in their context and are shaped to fit the tale rather than the other way around People are gone and story is backSo what you may say Authors are allowed to and should evolve and explore different things I agree with you This doesn t sound necessarily like a bad evolution in and of itself If you spent that much time exploring stories through your characters you might have found out some things that you wanted to share too Isn t that the point of writing Sure But only if it works and tells you something new Unfortunately I think that this new tactic has ultimately gotten rid of everything he s good at and brought into sharp relief the things that have never been his strong suitTo start with since I am no longer looking at and involved with his characters or involved with the loveliness of his writing I ve seen enough of it to be past the first blush of that especially since a lot of it can be repetitive I ve spent a lot of time thinking about his message and the ultimate point of what he says That is what is the function of what he writes What is the function of this character s thoughts of that character s arc Why is it that women smile and die and men hang their heads in sorrow and live Most importantly why are we singing an elegy for this moment that we re experiencing Why do we care that one era is dying and another is about to be born How is this enriching my understanding of why these sorts of conflicts happen or those decisions are made Kay found his answer to this through people before I was on board with that That makes sense to me People screw other people and their morals for the sake of their children People make decisions that are hazardous to their health because they think they have nothing left to lose People keep secrets to protect others and people hold pointless grudges because they are bitter about the way their life turned outNot any Now characters are now a function of the plot and it shows For example in this book we re exploring the nature of what makes a hero and how his legend is made after his death This is a common theme in Kay s writing He s done it well before exploring the ambiguity of a figure like El Cid and his motivations or a true believer in nationalism who ends up forging a country from battling fragments through twenty years of work Now in this book we have a hero who we are just asked to believe is a hero because Kay says he is Instead of proving that to us and showing us a person earning his way to the top the man inside the legend he view spoiler decides to skip all that and just get to the good stuff In order for his hero to be as young and successful as he wants him to be he has him rapidly promoted from being a boss of a swamp gang to a commander of a fifty thousand strong army and and assumes that it all goes pretty well along the way His hero never falters and oh by the way goes on front line dangerous expeditions all on his own In case we still doubt he has him marked by a sex goddess And seriously I kid you not he shows the goddess mark on his back to prove to everyone how Special he is There s a whole lot of I was born to do this nonsense going on too as a reasoning for his motivations Really Because people who constantly make statements like that are someone whose hubris I would be wary of tripping over Seriously Kay what are you even talking about hide spoiler

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There he emerges years later and his life changes again dramatically as he circles toward 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 a. Our lives aren t only ours There are plenty of fantasy books that take us along the from zero to hero path River of Stars is similar but the ingenious variation comes with the fact that the personal development of the hero is accompanied by a grand scale devolution of his country If you expect a happy ending you got a wrong book River of Stars is a companion novel to Under Heaven and together they form kind of a duology inasmuch as they are set in the same alternative version of China but where Under Heaven talked about an empire in its heyday River of Stars takes us to a sad and diminished ruin of the former glory We are caught between the inescapable contrasts There is no an easy way out The Twelfth Dynasty of Kitai is shrunken and rotten and can repeat after Livy one of my favourite uotes We can endure neither our vices nor their cure The devolution does not concern merely the material but it affects the spirit first of all and as the reader wades through the symptoms of this decay it will be apparent how this slow poison spreads and how it affects the men and women of the empire It is evil mixed with incompetence mixed with desperation mixed with honourable intentions The result is chilling You d expect that this is where the MC steps in You are right But you are also wrongMr Kay is known if not renowned for his perfect characterisation of even secondary and tertiary protagonists River of Stars is not different in this regard the problem is that we do not really have primary secondary or tertiary figures because the leading ones do not have the narrative monopoly To the contrary their voices are uire rare and we see the story unfolding through a wide array of individuals some of whom appear sparkle and vanish some stay with us longer even if they linger on the margins The intensity of this way of telling the story results in the fact that both male and female MCs become guests in their own tale Ren Daiyan is a great hero But not such a great protagonist My main problem is that he has been born to make all those great things he did There is no development to him or in him He does not need to grow he needs to persevere He himself admits that It was as if the choice had been made for him he was only the agency of its working Well let me tell you I was furious For once what kind of choice is it if you know you were born to be wild great But also because all the important moments on the forking path of his life were skipped and some only were later referred to in the retrospect How frustratingly exasperating particularly the first and never properly explained one The female counterpart Lin Shan was interesting mostly because she was threading a lonely path of an unorthodox eccentric among the meek and domesticated females of her time Not an extraordinary beauty weird that for Mr Kay but a nice change usually disliked by women overeducated and altogether too clever I could empathise Her path her marriage her choices these were well conceived and even better written Evidently Mr Kay experiments with telling the story on many different levels This way of narrative and meta narrative and then something in between did not resonate with me fully Also as I ve been trying to tell you he experiments with the use of parentheses The book enticed me and drew me in but then lost me somewhere in the middle forgive me Father of All Books I had even thought of skimming only to grind me to incoherent pieces in the end In spite of my numerous misgivings most of them you will find in what has uickly landed on my personal list of the best reviews on Goodreads I was annihilated and offended both by that ending The catharsis never came It is not necessary to read the previous book although I d recommend it especially that there is a nice crossover across time because the predecessor is in my opinion slightly better Where it begins Under Heaven


10 thoughts on “River of Stars

  1. says:

    What is it to fall out of love? It is has been a long time since I’ve done it and so I don’t remember From what I recall it was something unconscious for a long time Something in your turn of phrase in the explanations that you seek out and find the articles you share and how often you choose to go to bed early I remember it being full of protestations a passion that was stronger than I felt and heavy with tears The music I remember is

  2. says:

    444 I just finished and honestly this book has left me completely depressed Almost than the second Malazan and this is saying something because that one had me crying for days The complete helplessness of regular people and their lack of con

  3. says:

    I feel cheated I hate these wishy washy anti climactic Kay endings and the wishy washy over virtuous flat characters but that was not

  4. says:

    “Our lives aren’t only ours”There are plenty of fantasy books that take us along the “from zero to hero” path “River of S

  5. says:

    A seuel in terms of setting and history if not character or plot River of Stars sees Guy Gavriel Kay return to the Chinese inspired world of Under Heaven It's a book that can be enjoyed by new readers as a standalone volume but one which holds added significance for readers already familiar with the firstAs a fan of Kay's work and

  6. says:

    With every Kay book I read I'm tempted to say 'This is the best one yet' River of Stars is no exception It may be only the fact that it is fresh in my memory but I believe the author has reach a new height in his uest to conjure and breath life into ancient histories I have also noticed that the supernatural elements feature less and less w

  7. says:

    Returning to Kay's richly drawn worlds is like falling into poetry extensively researched history and the becoming one with the horrors that beset these wonderful contemporary protagonistsI'm tempted to call this

  8. says:

    45 Stars Review also posted at The BiblioSanctumBecause I've read and enjoyed Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven I became intri

  9. says:

    TornWhat do I say about this book? The trends that I hoped were an aberration in Under Heaven seem to have increased and not waned I read the bo

  10. says:

    of Stars is the twelfth novel by Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay and is based loosely on twelfth century China during the Song Dynasty Like many of his works Kay weaves historical names places and events into a fi

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