kingshearte's Reviews > Lord of Emperors

Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay
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's review
Dec 10, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction
Recommended to kingshearte by: Don
Read in October, 2006 — I own a copy

Not really sure how to succinctly explain this duo of books, but let's see. Mosaicist travels to big city, and gets embroiled in a whole crapload of court and other intrigues. Doesn't really even begin to cover it. But anyway.

Fuzzy's been at me for ages to read these, as they're some of his all-time favourites, so I finally did. They weren't bad. I think Guy Gavriel Kay could use a better editor - one with the confidence to do just a tiny bit more than proofread for typos and grammatical errors - because there was some stuff that could have been improved. Certain of his key points get repeated so many times it makes you want to hurl the book across the room, screaming, "I KNOW!!!!!!" and he talks a lot more than he needs to about things that don't really matter. He's a big fan of the minor but critical character, which does necessitate a certain amount of exposition about those characters, but I think he goes overboard at times. And the ending just dragged on forever, with the ultimate ending seeming almost abrupt and weird, if that makes any sense at all.

Other little things that a better editor should have said something about were unfulfilled exchanges. The whole if there's a gun onstage, it had better go off before the end of the show thing. For example, a guy leaves a girl with a knife so she can kill herself despite being under constant guard. He's leaving town in two days, and, since he's been her only visitor, he knows the knife will be traced back to him, so he asks her to wait until he's gone. It says one paragraph later that he knows she won't wait. And yet absolutely nothing comes of that. And it either should have, or he shouldn't have made such a point of saying that something would. And he says many times (one of the afore-mentioned talking points) that one of the characters has a nasty nasty temper, but I can't think of a single time when the character displayed anything resembling a nasty temper. And these strange St-Elmo's Fire-like flame spots that appear in the city at night, but that never become relevant or get explained. Little things like that.

All that said, it sounds like I didn't like that books, but I actually did. Despite the technical flaws, the guy tells a very compelling story. The characters have layers, and you find yourself liking most of them, even the ones who are supposed to be the bad guys. And the reverse holds true as well. Some of the good guys do some things that make you really not like them at times. Which is really kind of cool.

Also, because the story is so complicated, with so many storylines weaving in and out of each other (it's almost a little soap-opera-esque), you really can't predict exactly where the story's going to go, which is always nice. Not only the small things, but even some of the major plot points were unexpected, so good on him for that.

And he's very good at the art of making you want to keep reading. He has a tendency of putting his characters in grave situations, and then basically telling you to tune in Monday to find out what actually happened. At one point, one of the very likable characters got jumped and had the crap beaten out of him, and then that story was dropped in favour of others for several chapters. I was particularly concerned because I knew from Fuzzy that a main character was going to die in the second book, but he hadn't told me which one. I was actually quite concerned it might be this guy. So there again. Good on him for keeping the suspense up, maddening as it was at times.

So yeah. Despite my complaints, I really liked the books. I think the flaws are just almost more noticeable *because* the actual story is so good. If the story were bad, or even just OK, I wouldn't really care about the flaws. But the books could be really really amazing, but are held back just due to some relatively minor things. I'm not sure I'm explaining myself well, but in any case. Call me, Guy. I'll tweak your book into near-perfection. ;)

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