I’m currently reading Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay, for the second time. I love this book, and the beautiful images it evokes. It is set in a fictionalized version of historic China and Mongolia, at the height of imperial power and influence. Although there are definitely elements of fantasy, I would say that they are there almost as metaphors, and it is not high fantasy, like his Fionavar Tapestry (the best word for trilogy yet). The first time I read this book, I experienced such a strange sense of deja vu that it distracted me from the story line. I had the feeling that I had read a short story with very similar elements, but I still haven’t figured out what story that might have been.
Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing is always gorgeous, and often has some very interesting philosophical and moral questions that come up. I’ve also read his Ysabel, which is somewhat of a fourth book in the Fionavar series, and may be my favorite, Tigana, The Lion of Al-Rassan, and others. No wait, A Song for Arbonne is my favorite. I think.
If you are looking for a book that will stay with you, that you will drag around with you and force other people to read, so they can exoerience that sensation that only comes with reading a beloved book, I highly recommend Guy Gavriel Kay. Just don’t blame me when you are still reading at three o’clock in the morning.