Tim Hicks's Reviews > Under Heaven

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
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Jan 30, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, favourites
Read in January, 2011

Oh, what a pleasure that was to read! I've read several excellent books since Christmas and this topped them all. Today, I had about 60 pages left, and found myself wanting to drop everything and go read them. I waited half an hour to savour that feeling of anticipation, then polished it off.

I've read several Kay novels, and several other authors' novels based on ancient China, so I wasn't exploring new territory. This one ties Barry Hughart's "Bridge of Birds" as the best. This is complex, balanced, well-researched. The writing is restrained, suited to the era, but never intrusive in the "Am I not a wonderful writer?" way.

The characters are good but not perfect, or bad but not quite totally evil, or somewhere in between. There is just enough magic for flavour, some battle, some sex. Some history, some politics, some intrigue, a bit of logistical reality, and so on.

And, like other Kay books, it is very good at making you think, "Well, just one more chapter tonight."

It ends rather quickly, but it was an appropriate ending for what had occurred, and anything longer would have felt stretched.

MINOR SPOILER WARNING, SKIP THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T YET READ THE BOOK
- my favourite part was when the Shuoki caught Li-Mei and Meshag, and soon I had to ask myself, "Whatever made you think there were only six wolves?"
END OF MINOR SPOILER
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