Chris 's Reviews > The Lions of Al-Rassan

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
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's review
Nov 23, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: guy-gavriel-kay, scifi-fan-group, favorites, read-owned-paperback
Read from October 23 to November 04, 2010

I needed a couple of days to let this sink in before writing a review. That's how powerful the book was, and its incredible ending.

This is one of those books that it's very difficult to write a spoiler-free review for. I could mark it as such and go for it, but then people that haven't read the book will skip the review.

The Lions of Al-Rassan is a book I will push on friends. When asked for recommendations, it will float to the top of my list every time. I won't say it's my all-time favorite, but it's on the short list.

So, without spoilers, let's see what we can do.

This book is a great example of what epic fantasy should be. Key on the "epic". There really aren't that many traditional fantasy elements; no elves, dwarves, magic, dragons, or forgetful wizards. But it has the passion and scope of medieval society, and the brutality of its warfare. The clash of three religions that really should be compatible but for some reason cause hundreds of years of slaughter between the factions.

This could be a historical fiction, if not for the names being changed. It's an imaginary world, with a huge flavoring of our world's history, that of medieval Spain.

And while it has all of that, nothing will prepare the reader for the emotional pull this does on the heartstrings. Kay does not only make you like his characters, he makes you freakin' grieve for them. For their losses, for their ordeals, and sometimes for their deaths. When they're at risk, you feel your heartbeat skip and just as much you feel the relief if/when they survive the challenges. Sometimes, you even feel relief that Character A survived while Character B did not, and then you feel guilty for feeling that relief, because you loved Character B as well.

So, this is not a sword & sorcery Dungeons and Dragons campaign re-hash. It is not strictly a historical "real" fiction, though it is closer to that than the former. In fact, I hate to stick a genre label to this book at all, because it truly transcends labeling.

It's a damn good book, period.

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Reading Progress

10/25/2010 page 50
10/26/2010 page 99
19.0% 3 comments
10/31/2010 page 242
46.0% 2 comments
11/03/2010 page 440
83.0% 1 comment
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Sandra ::sob:: You'll love it.

Chris I hope so. I've been a big fan of all the Kay I've read so far.

Sandra Be prepared to have your heart torn out of your chest. :)

Dawn Get going! I need you to finish so I can finally talk about the ending with someone. :D

Sandra I hope you're going to write a review!

message 6: by Jon (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jon I need to read this book! And all the other Kay books sitting on my shelf.

Excellent review, Chris.

Sandra Yes! I agree! Excellent review.

Chris Thank you both....

Yes, a must read. This is the best of the Kay's I've read so far.

message 9: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Dixon Great spoiler-free review, Chris. This is an awesome book and one of my favorites.

message 10: by Shel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shel I love this book SO MUCH. I lent it to a friend a while ago and it still is sitting on her bedside table waiting to be read - I keep wanting to shake her into reading it already so I can gush to her about it :)

Sandra Shel wrote: "I love this book SO MUCH. I lent it to a friend a while ago and it still is sitting on her bedside table waiting to be read - I keep wanting to shake her into reading it already so I can gush to h..."

Me, too, Shel, although it took me a while as it was sooo awfully wrenching.

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