Review: "River of Stars" by Guy Gavriel Kay

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Buy at Amazon

This is a review of "River Of Stars” by Guy Gavriel Kay. Published in Hardcover by ROC in April 2013. Amazon Canada has it listed for $20.06.

Guy Gavriel Kay is famous for his historical fantasy novels, one of the rare group of fantasy authors whose books regularly cross over to mainstream reading lists and awards. "River Of Stars” is his second book using Chinese history; this time the Song Dynasty as a jumping off point for another wonderful novel.

I had challenges in writing this review, in particular, every time I picked up the book to refresh my memory I found I lost 45 minutes as I got sucked back into the book by the beautiful writing and moving story.

I don't really want to give away much of the plot, if you are a fan of Guy Gavriel Kay, you know that his stories are usually set at a pivotal point in history when a way of life is changing for our characters. Usually, when their society and the graces and cultured elements that are part of it are threatened by outside forces.

This "formula" is never repetitive, because in each book GGK takes on a new time period and has new characters bring it to life vividly. Each book uses some aspect of art to represent the society in question; music, mosaics and in this book, poetry. Throughout the book characters write or appreciate poetry. An art form not shared by the Mongol invaders.

What has really stayed with me since I finished the book, is the way GGK has combined the sweep of history with more intimate family stories. In this case, I am not referring to the romantic plot thread, but rather the story elements featuring parent-child relationships.

Since I became a parent I find that I notice parent-child relationships in my reading. And I think about them more. Parents and families get a raw deal in most fiction. Parents are; absent (providing the archetypal orphan), abusive, smothering-stifling, or distant. Families are usually present to provide conflict for our characters. Rarely is a truly affectionate relationship part of the plot.

In "River Of Stars”, there are a number of believable parent-child relationships that are loving. While the parent may or may not be perfect, everyone believes that they are doing the best they can. And I kept asking myself, did GGK have to go to ancient China to find a world where this would be believable? I found the family stories so distinct and tenderly told that they outweigh the adventure portion of the story.

While this is his second book to be set in ancient China, this is a stand-alone novel that works perfectly by itself. I enjoyed it immensely and plan to give a copy to my father.

So, please check out River Of Stars recommended to you by WebGenii.

River Of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: ROC (April 2 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780451464972
ISBN-13: 978-0451464972

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