The Lions of Al-Rassan

The Lions of Al-Rassan The Ruling Asharites Of Al Rassan Have Come From The Desert Sands, But Over Centuries, Seduced By The Sensuous Pleasures Of Their New Land, Their Stern Piety Has Eroded The Asharite Empire Has Splintered Into Decadent City States Led By Warring Petty Kings King Almalik Of Cartada Is On The Ascendancy, Aided Always By His Friend And Advisor, The Notorious Ammar Ibn Khairan Poet, Diplomat, Soldier Until A Summer Afternoon Of Savage Brutality Changes Their Relationship ForeverMeanwhile, In The North, The Conquered Jaddites Most Celebrated And Feared Military Leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, Driven Into Exile, Leads His Mercenary Company SouthIn The Dangerous Lands Of Al Rassan, These Two Men From Different Worlds Meet And Serve For A Time The Same Master Sharing Their Interwoven Fate And Increasingly Torn By Her Feelings Is Jehane, The Accomplished Court Physician, Whose Own Skills Play An Increasing Role As Al Rassan Is Swept To The Brink Of Holy War, And BeyondHauntingly Evocative Of Medieval Spain, The Lions Of Al Rassan Is Both A Brilliant Adventure And A Deeply Compelling Story Of Love, Divided Loyalties, And What Happens To Men And Women When Hardening Beliefs Begin To Remake Or Destroy A World

Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy, though the author himself has expressed a preference to shy away from genre categoriz

➽ [Reading] ➿ The Lions of Al-Rassan By Guy Gavriel Kay ➲ –
  • Paperback
  • 635 pages
  • The Lions of Al-Rassan
  • Guy Gavriel Kay
  • English
  • 08 February 2018

10 thoughts on “The Lions of Al-Rassan

  1. says:

    I can t believe this is happening but here I am, my first ever DNF.I DNF ed this book somewhere around 60% and because of that I will still give this book a rating, my second 1 star rating the first one was for Uprooted by Naomi Novik This is an extremely unpopular opinion and I know a LOT of people loved this book, so please keep in mind that this is just my honest opinion At the time of posting this review, there are less than 200 readers including me who gave it a 1 star rating, out of 15.7k ratings, don t let this review alone be a sign for you to not try the book if you re already interested in it.GGK fans usually recommend either Tigana or The Lions of Al Rassan when asked on which GGK s book to start with, this is not the first time I read GGK s work, I ve read Tigana and I love that book, I gave it 4.5 5 stars, but this book for me is a far cry from that Where Tigana was of a fantasy, The Lions of Al Rassan is my first experience with GGK s historical fiction books and after this, I have to remove tons of his books from my TBR Throughout my time reading, I can t help but feel that knowledge on Medieval Spain which I knew next to nothing about is crucial in order to love this book GGK didn t spare any moment in explaining the meaning behind each terminology or names, I also expected the religions to play a lot of part in the story but they didn t The analogy to Christian, Jews, and Muslim weren t as important as I thought it would be, they were just there.The worst part of the book for me, however, was the characters Even by 60% mark, I still don t care about any of the characters, literally none I have no idea how this book ends, but considering how I feel about the characters, if at the end they all die I would still feel nothing I would prefer to continue watching Stranger Things season 2 on Netflix Genius product placement Petrik, bravo Sex scenes and romance are, as usual, cringeworthy This seems to be GGK s trademark, it happened in Tigana too but it s just so much worse here I really don t like how GGK portrayed romance and sex scenes Not only they re pointless, the sex scenes are over the top and all the characters are written like a porn star with stunning sex prowess Plus the matter of instalove and what seems to be a love triangle formed between the main characters, both are something that I highly dislike in the books I read.GGK s prose is beautiful and lyrical, no doubt about those as I loved reading his writing, especially in Tigana Here though His writing direction felt off Prose changes to present tense for reasons I have no idea why, characters POV changed within the same or the next paragraphs repeatedly making my head hurt literally hurt and also, ended up making me feel so disconnected with the book.These are all my interpretations from 60% of the book, all I know is, I can t be bother to continue with this book unless I m feeling masochist and willing to go into a reading slump As you can see from my review, this book didn t infuriate me as much as Uprooted did, it s just extremely boring with no ambulance to save me from the reading slump emergency nearby The Lions of Al Rassan is definitely not for me and I can t recommend this to anyone If you want a fantastic historical fiction, go with Bernard Cornwell if you re interested in giving GGK a try, I recommend you to read Tigana I will MAYBE still give Sarantine Mosaic duology a try, but I doubt I ll be reading any of his works other than that duology considering that all of them are mostly historical fictions as well Once again, this is an extremely unpopular opinion, the majority of readers love this book some even claimed this is GGK s best work and I hope you will love it too You can find the rest of my Adult Epic High Fantasy Sci Fi reviews at BookNest

  2. says:

    The Lions of al Rassan is a sweeping historical epic that examines the price of war, the deadly toll on lives that can occur when religion and politics meet and clash, the seemingly endless give and take between Christians Muslims Jews, the power that certain charismatic individuals can exert during times of tumult and change, and just as important as everything i ve mentioned the nature of love and of friendship its cast features El Cid and Ibn Ammar it is set during Moorish Spain.actually, no it isn t set there and those characters are nowhere to be found in this novel and yet Moorish Spain, Ibn Ammar and El Cid, the history of conflict between Jews and Muslims and Christians are exactly what Kay is using as his templates it is a rather ingenious idea instead of having to worry about getting everything just right, each historical detail and each character s deeds and traits, why not just use them all as inspiration and recreate a world anew and so the novel is considered a fantasy because it takes place in an alternate reality that has two moons as well as a boy with psychic powers but hey, that can happen right here in this dimension.i have a GR bookshelf called Into the Past in which i place books that are some sort of historical fiction The Lions of al Rassan is on that shelf, mainly due to how this novel perfectly and beautifully Kay is a gorgeous writer evokes its time period but recreating Moorish Spain and paying homage to fascinating historical figures are not the novel s goals this is a romantic saga that illustrates the best and the worst of mankind the details of a past milieu are really not its overriding concern those details are all backdrop what it is is wonderful wish fulfillment at its purest heroes who are wise witty brave kind, a heroine who is strong empowered brave kind, a story full of battles big and small, complicated political machinations and complicated villains, vivid supporting characters, a richness that is rich because in many ways it is timeless its narrative is thrilling and melancholy and brutally clear eyed and sweetly sentimental in equal parts its prose is elegant and has such a lovely flowing feel to it its themes are genuinely adult themes it sees the need for change and yet mourns all the beautiful things buried by time it is full of anger and the heart of its story is the idea that people can actually come together, respect and love each other, move past their differences while respecting those differences how people can truly see each other as brothers and sisters they can come together in romantic love, they can come together as teachers and students, they can come together as a family and most of all they can come together in friendship, as equals the novel features one of the most heartfelt and tragic bromances i ve read in a while but it is not just about the boys it also features a very real and very independent woman at its core all three characters are splendid creations for me, the best thing about their complicated relationship is how necessary each of them is to the other at different points in the novel, each of the three characters will save the life of somone dear to another of those three characters this was a beautiful thing, a resonant thing, a timeless thing humans can rise above their baser instincts, they can be than just pawns or animals or people who keep their heads down while others fall we can save each other s lives we can, i know we can if not, then why even be alive

  3. says:

    If I scored my nerd tendencies I d fall much closer on the scale to comic books and Star Trek than to Lord of the Rings and other swords n sorcery kind of fantasy which is weird because I do enjoy the kind of world building and political intrigue that is often a big part of the genre My hesitation about reading of this kind of stuff is due in no small part to how it seems like common practice for fantasy authors of turning those stories into multi book epics, but then stalling out in the middle of a series and leaving fans hanging for years while they work on other projects That s why I watch Game of Thrones but will not read GRRM s books until he finishes what he started Years of frustration waiting during Stephen King s glacial pace on Dark Tower left me a broken and bitter shell of a man who refuses to put up with that nonsense ever again Any rabid fan boy comments trying to shout me down for daring to offer a criticism that could be applied to their particular lord and master will be deleted Life s too short.I haven t read all of Guy Gavriel Kay s work, but not only does he do the kind of intrigue I enjoy, one of the big selling points to me is that the guy finishes a story He says he s writing a fantasy trilogy BOOM There s The Fionavar Tapestry All three books were published from 1984 to 1986 He s doing a two parter called The Sarantine Mosaic BAM Started in 1998 and finished in 2000 Sorry that the second one wasn t out in 99 He s creating a historical fantasy based on Moorish Spain that requires elaborate world building involving political and religious intrigue Easy The Lions of Al Rassan One and done You re welcome.This fictional land has three religions with a bloody history, but an era of uneasy peace is in place among various factions split among them The Asharites worship the stars and their prophet Ashar while their northern neighbors the Jaddites believe in a sun god The Kindath worship the two moons, but they have no land or power of their own and exist in both territories as second class citizens who are routinely discriminated against Prominent people in both the Asharite and Jaddite religions often find it a convenient distraction to blame the Kindath for any problems going on and let their citizens take out their frustrations on them rather than the actual leaders.A female Kindath physician named Jehane bet Ishak has a very long and eventful day in which she meets two legendary men Ammar ibn Khairan is an Asharite warrior and poet who is famous for having murdered the last caliph which turned formerly united Al Rassan into independent city states Rodrigo Belmonte is a Jaddite who leads a lethal company of horseman charged with keeping the peace and protecting the border cities who pay protection to his king.A series of events begin to change the political landscape of Al Rassan and ambitious leaders begin plotting while the dour clerics of Jad try to promote a holy war and some of the fanatical desert Asharites see opportunities to sweep away the decadence they believe has infiltrated their society Rodrigo, Ammar and Jehane wind up in the same city and forge a bond despite their differences, but they soon find that it s hard to be loyal to your friends when duty comes calling.Kay does a superior job of laying out all the complex political and religious alliances so that you have a clear understanding but aren t overwhelmed by it His religions are obviously based on the Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths, and he mines the history of them to make a lot of points about bigotry, hypocrisy and the use of faith to manipulate people It s also an exciting tale featuring all kinds of hacking and slashing in tense action scenes I also liked that this has a lot of the trappings of a fantasy novel and a fictional world, but there s no magical or supernatural elements other than one character having some very limited telepathic and precognitive abilities.The best thing is the relationship between the three main characters Rodrigo and Ammar are done as the kind of bigger than life people that emerge during times of great historical conflict whose actions have huge consequences, but he never makes them seem outrageously heroic or unrealistic Jehane is as strong and independent female character as you can reasonably have in a story set in a society where guys with swords are still in charge Her being one of the Kindath could have made her seem like a likely candidate to be victimized, but instead, Kay uses her as the voice of sanity caught in the middle of events completely outside of her control.It s not perfect though Kay gets a little too cute sometimes in drawing out suspense like withholding the names of characters who have been killed and trying to fake the reader out Also, while I ve praised this as being a single self contained story, most of the book is spent setting up a conflict that plays out in an incredibly rushed final act in which we see almost none of the action and learn about the deaths of important supporting characters as single lines reporting larger events I suspect that Kay wanted to keep his focus on his three main players and that the point of the book was the impact on them, not so much a blow by blow account of it happening However, he went to a lot of effort to suck a reader into this world so it seems odd that he was in such a hurry to finish it up.Still, it s a highly entertaining and engrossing read that combines the best of fantasy world building with historical fiction.

  4. says:

    Perhaps it s incipient dementia I ve lost too many brain cells to time and American TV but I just don t get the GGK love evinced by many of my GR friends I struggled through the first 100 pages of this book and seriously considered giving up entirely but I persevered to the end albeit skimming through many pages and left profoundly unimpressed.Upon reflection, my difficulty with the novel is that at no point did the writing engage me I didn t find the alternate Medieval Spain all that inventive I didn t find the characters all that interesting The story had moments of interest but overall I felt cynically manipulated at every point.Points that made it impossible to enjoy this book The setting Medieval history particularly the very era when the Reconquista was getting underway was my focus in college and in my post graduate studies Kay has done his homework but rather than using that knowledge to inform a true alternate history of Spain or a world with a Moorish flavor we have a world where the names have been changed and that s it We have al Rassan for al Andalus, Espera a for Spain, the Majriti for Berbers, Jaddites for Christians, Asharites for Muslims, you get the idea.The characters Two points to make here One is that our heroes and heroines are simply too good to be believed Rodrigo, Ammar, Jehane, Miranda They re brilliant, understanding and oh, so tragic And the bad guys are little better A shade gray e.g., Almalik ibn Almalik or Yazir ibn Q arif but not much I felt like I was being hit over the head with their awesomeness as well as with their angst over the terrible dilemmas they found themselves in The in your face nature of the writing made it impossible for me to get into the story or to give a damn about the characters.Point two is that Rodrigo et al sound and act like 20 21st century people There was never a moment when I felt I was in the mind of a man or woman born and raised in a Medieval or Medievalish world unlike my reading of Sheri Holman s A Stolen Tongue There, I could identify with or at any rate understand Fra Felix s motivations and actions but they were wholly informed by Medieval premises, and I was in a thoroughly alien world The same is true of William Golding s Scorpion God, where we re transported to a Stone Age tribe, Old Kingdom Egypt and late Republican Rome.The sex scenes Like a lot of the book, they were just too good to be true and cringe inducing.The technology This really only irked me in two places as, otherwise, there was nothing obviously anachronistic, and both had to do with the medical technology of the period Jehane s father Ishak, a celebrated physician performs a successful Caesarian section and a successful brain surgery Though Muslim and Jewish i.e., Asharite and Kindath medical knowledge was relatively speaking light years beyond any Christian i.e., Jaddite lore, I just couldn t buy it.And on that topic and related to the unbelievable awesomeness of the characters there was a scene where Kay could have introduced an element of humanity into Jehane s character One of the vile villains Garcia de Rada suffers a whip lash Jehane, much against her inclination, offers him advice on how to make sure it doesn t fester because her Oath of Galinus otherwise known as the Hippocratic Oath demands that she offers succor to anyone Why couldn t we have seen a flaw in her character A point where even her oath isn t going to make her let Garcia suffer less Rather than making me dislike her it would have made her real.Whew is there anything good I can say about the book I did give it two stars, after all.Not really I may become generous as the immediacy of my reading lessens but the novel is just okay in my book I wish I could share in the enthusiasm of many of my GR friends and I ll still take their ratings, recommendations and reviews seriously but I can t.I don t know if I want to give Kay another chance I m still intrigued by the idea behind Tigana, for example, but I m not sure I could endure the writing style again.I think I m going to go off now and write a review of a book I that s than OK.

  5. says:

    I feel like I should have loved this book Parts of it were so good and it had that tortured world gritty feel to it that s right up my alley Friends on GR who share common interests one and all loved it But my god the middle 60% was a slog for me I had to put it down and restart it so many times The ending tragic and redeeming but I still can t give it than 2.5 s.

  6. says:

    First of all, allow me to give Kiala her due for picking this book for Vaginal Fantasy After last month s pick, we were sorely due for something of substance I will also remind everyone that last month s pick was MY doing, so I m duly chastened Anyhow The Lions of Al Rassan is an absolutely mesmerizing book As I understand it and please correct me in the comments if I am incorrect it s a fantastical alt history of the Iberian Peninsula With one small exception, I would pause to call it fantasy at all In fact, the only issue I had with the book was my own lack of historical knowledge I was constantly trying to make parallels between the nations, religions and peoples of the book with our own world history, and that was perhaps a little distracting But, to the story I don t want to spoil, and I don t really want to get into the intricacies of the tale there are many This book does many things, and it does them all well It s an action tale, a love story, a cautionary tale that seems to hit on modern fears and insecurities, and The web of characters seems to constantly expand, and yet I never felt as though I was receiving unnecessary information The people in this book are complex, and you ll come to care deeply about many of them They are all flawed, though some than others There is romance, and it is very complicated Life is complicated War is horrible Good people can do terrible things You ll forgive some of it, but not all.

  7. says:

    The things some people can do with words is breathtaking I absolutely loved this book I have ranted about it to everyone possible, including strangers in cars next to me on the street I tell them to roll down their windows and then I tell them to read this book My mom stopped taking my calls because instead of happy mother s day, I quoted lines from this book when I talked to her There are a lot of reviews for this so I m not breaking any new ground here, but sincerely, if you have not read this book and you enjoy reading in any way, pick it up and start immediately I m afraid that might even be too late Five fireworks exploding in my head for the final eighty pages stars and the placement of high expectations on a serious love affair with this guys other works.

  8. says:

    I love this book 5 Stars All the Stars.It s a slow burn I can easily acknowledge that, but the characters are intriguing from the start and Kay s writing is just beautiful The world can be a bit confusing as well if you don t understand the background of medieval Spain as a lot of names and history are thrown at you from the start There s also three different religions and the strife between them is the center stage of the book the Kindath are Jews, the Jaddites are Christians, and the Asharites are Muslims The religions are pretty loosely based, but I think knowing that connection makes the book much easier to place.Oh but this book It might be a slow burn, but before you know it, you can t put it down and then tears are streaming down your face but you still can t stop I love it I love Kay s writing I love the emotional gut punches and the beautiful impactful scenes I love how many times I ll reread a passage because it s so on point I love the little touches of metaphor sprinkled throughout, and how I m still not sure I ve caught them all.I could try to write a serious review, but I think Alissa s review is pretty perfect.I recommend this book to everyone Go slow Enjoy it Soon you won t be able to stop.

  9. says:

    You will fall in love with one of the characters in this book I absolutely guarantee it The only question is, with whom Will it be with the flamboyant Ammar ibn Khailan, poet, spymaster, kingslayer, warrior With Jehane, strong and stubborn doctor Perhaps with Miranda, so beautiful and queenly even when managing a horse ranch Or with proud Rodrigo, the Scourge of Al Rassan, brave, virtuous, faithful Or will it be with one of the minor characters Starstruck Alvar, alluring Zabira, the wise Ishak or his loving wife Perhaps you ll be won over by Lain an his cheerful blasphemies, the twins Diego with his strange gift and Fernan with his filial devotion, or by Queen Ines and her domineering passions I had never read anything by Guy Gavriel Kay, only knew him as the hand behind The Silmarillion He is a master storyteller, a world weaver like few others, and his skillful pen draws for us characters we would love to share a meal, a bed, a life, a world with.In the end, this book is a sad one, an evocation of how when the world turns, some rise up while others must be ground down Al Rassan renews itself, leaving behind its old skin, and in doing so, reveals that it is much too small for four people of such heroic proportions The people you fall in love with die in this book, and it s not suprising what is is that it is so very hard to let go.I will return to al Rassan one day, no doubt about it Do yourself a favor and read this book NOW.

  10. says:

    4.5Story revolve around people of three religion and their struggle to prevail over each other These three religions are Ashar worshipers of Stars , Jad worshipers of Sun and Kindath worshipers of Moons On a day that was known as day of moat , physician Jehane bet Ishak, a Kindath, met Ammar ibn Khairan, most famous Ashar warrior, and Ser Rodrigo Belmonte, a fierce Jad captain This is the story of how these three become friends and what they choose when it come to make a decision between friendship, religion and love Story is set in the medieval Spain and GGk has created an extremely beautiful world As always his writing is impeccable and lyrical I loved this verse Who knows love Who says he knows love What is love, tell me I know love, Says the littlest one Love is like a tall oak tree Why is love a tall oak tree Little one tell me Love is a treeFor the shelter it givesIn sunshine or in storm Who knows love Who says he knows love What is love, tell me I know love, Says the littlest one Love is like a flower Why is love a flower Little one tell me Love is a flowerFor the sweetness it givesBefore it dies away He has created three exceptional characters in Jehane, Ammar and Rodrigo Their journey till the end of the book is breathtakingly beautiful Even the supporting characters were amazing And the theme of the book, war over religion evokes so many emotions After finishing the book I was questioning myself did God really wants His children to slaughter each other over His name Or why we can t accept each other as Husari Ashar and Alvar Jad did in the book and how beautifully Husari described this union I think, Husari murmured, such a person if we could find one in Ragosa this week might say we two represent the best the peninsula has to offer Brave Alvar and my poor self, as we stand humbly before you, are proof that men of different worlds can blend and mingle those worlds That we can take the very finest things from each, to make a new whole, shining and imperishable The end of the book was bittersweet Even if had ended the other way around I would have been equally sad as I m now So if you like reading, read this beautiful tale of love, passion, betrayal, hatred, survival and hope.

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