Jennifer's Reviews > The Lions of Al-Rassan

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
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Aug 20, 10


First off, I'm taking one star off for a trick Kay pulls twice in this book, of telling you that a major character has died, then teasing and hinting and misleading and not telling you who it is for almost a full chapter, in effect making you go through the grieving process over and over again. He does it masterfully and it's great writing, but it's so agonizing I am bearing a grudge against him at the moment (as I wipe my eyes).

This is a beautiful book, set in a fantasy version of Spain during the Reconquista in which religions loosely based on Islam, Christianity, and Judaism struggle for supremacy--or simple survival. The main characters are a "Muslim" poet/assassin, a "Christian" warrior, and a "Jewish" physician, and their romantic triangle (a very, very even-sided one, with delicious amounts of tension and affection in every direction) is the symbolic heart of the story. Around that center is a glittering cast of delightful secondary characters, a vicious war, religion and politics. Kay's elegiac tone works beautifully to explore the sorrows of war, the brutality of religious extremism of all kinds (making this a very timely book), and the small but clear light that heroism and love cast in dark times.

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