Under Heaven

Category: Book
By (author): Kay, Guy Gavriel
Subject:  FICTION / Fantasy / General
  FICTION / General
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Published: April 2011
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 736
Size: 7.51in x 4.25in x 1.96in

Additional Notes

A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book
A Washington Post Best Fiction Book

Each night for two years Shen Tai has listened to the ghosts of dead soldiers in the darkness outside his isolated cabin. In honour of Tai's recently deceased father, a celebrated general who led the imperial army in battle here, he has devoted himself to the solitary task of burying the bones left lying by the mountain lake. But as Tai prepares for his return to a brilliant, dangerous court, he receives news of an extraordinary gift. A gift that could change the empire-or end his life.

In Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay tells a story of honour and power, treachery and love, in a setting that evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of eighth-century China.

From The Publisher*

Shen Tai is the son of a general who, 20 years before, led the forces of imperial Kitai in that empire's last war against its western enemies from Tagur. Forty thousand men on both sides were slain beside a remote mountain lake. General Shen Gao himself died recently. To honour his father's memory, Tai has spent two years in official mourning, alone at the battle site among the ghosts of the dead, laying to rest their unburied bones.

One spring morning, he learns that others have taken note of his vigil. The White Jade Princess in Tagur is pleased to present him with 250 Sardian horses, given, she writes, in recognition of his courage and of the honour done to the dead.

Tai sets out to the east, toward the glittering and dangerous imperial capital to face his own forever-altered life.

Review Quote*"[A] great joy to read…. One of the things that Kay's books have in common is their way to leave the reader breathless. There is so much emotion in some parts of Under Heaven that it's almost like his signature for me to read it with my heart at my throat…. Under Heaven may well be Kay's best book ever…. [T]he reader is often left with a lump filling her throat by the power and the beauty of his words. This is, without a doubt, one of the best books of 2010." - Speculative Book Review

"Guy Gavriel Kay is, simply, my favorite living author, and few writers, living or dead, have so consistent an effect upon me…. Under Heaven … is, simply, a great book…. His characters are people who elicit emotion. Some, we care deeply about what happens to them; others, we hope they meet a terrible end … That emotional involvement with the characters … makes possible one [of] the most deeply satisfying endings to a novel Kay has written yet" - Greenman Review

"Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven … is the novel you'll want for your summer vacation." - The Washington Post

"A recurring problem in fantasy and science fiction is the absence of strong and plausible female characters. This is one of Kay's great strengths. His … are fully realized and believable, and not merely the stereotypical place holders they too often are in the hands of less skilled authors … Under Heaven is an engrossing read, filled with well-drawn characters who live in a richly detailed world." - Winnipeg Free Press

"Kay is a masterful storyteller, and his prose is strong; rhythmically varied, it plays with point of view and perspective, getting inside the heads of a range of characters to broaden the world of the book.… The story itself is quick and clever, with twists that feel both unexpected and natural." - Montreal Gazette

"Under Heaven is virtually everything a reader could want in a book: a thrilling adventure, a love story, a coming-of-age tale, a military chronicle, a court-intrigue drama, a tragedy and on and on. It is a sumptuous feast of storytelling, a beautifully written tale with a beating, breaking heart at its core that will have readers in tears by its final pages." - Globe and Mail

"Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven … is the novel you'll want for your summer vacation.… [Kay] … moves his plot along at a rapid clip. At the same time, he continually thickens his novel with appealing minor characters, thus adding to the story's overall richness as well as suggesting that much else is going on just outside our narrative field of vision." - Washington Post

"Canadian superstar Guy Gavriel Kay's latest rich blend of history and the fantastic … Under Heaven evokes the Tang dynasty of 8th century China." - Toronto Star

"Kay is a genius. I've read him all my life and am always inspired by his work. You will love Under Heaven." - Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author

"Under Heaven … is one of his best…. [It] demonstrates Kay's ability to convert historical research into impeccable detail and verisimilitude, breathing life and depth into the world he creates without weighing the story down with too much description or background." - Vancouver Sun

"I loved, loved, loved Under Heaven. It had everything in it that made me such a fan of Guy Kay in the first place. I thought the new one was perfect." - Nancy Pearl, Book Commentator for NPR "Morning Edition"

"Meticulously researched yet seamlessly envisioned, the characters and culture present a timeless tale of filial piety and personal integrity." - Library Journal (starred review)

"In Under Heaven, Kay explores eighth century Tang Dynasty China…. The narrative is rich, compelling and powerful." - Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)

"[M]aybe only a writer with Kay's skill and imagination could make this story of screaming ghosts, Heavenly Horses and rebellion against an all-powerful government in such a far-off time and place so gripping…. This is another work by Guy Gavriel Kay to cherish as it inspires the imagination. I have happily cleared a permanent home for it on my bookshelves" - The Saskatoon Star Phoenix

"Kay is a philosopher at heart with far more to offer than comic book representations of clanging swords and perfumed seductresses.… What Kay has created here is a mythic tale in the tradition of Odysseus." - Quill & Quire

"Kay delivers an exquisitely detailed vision of a land much like Tang Dynasty China … the complex intrigues of poets, prostitutes, ministers and soldiers evolve into a fascinating, sometimes bloody, and entirely believable tale." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Kay says he wants his readers to keep turning pages until two a.m. Under Heaven should certainly help him achieve that goal." - Booklist (starred review)

"Guy Gavriel Kay has the ability to bring worlds and people alive on the page in a way that few authors today seem capable of. Although he uses the same repertoire as other authors-characterization, plot, atmosphere, etc.-somehow they are employed in such a manner that we're not aware of them as individual components. Like dancers and music they move together in such harmony we can enjoy the image they create without noticing the steps taken to bring it about. In Under Heaven he not only reaffirms his reputation as a storyteller par excellence, but as a master of bringing people and cultures alive. This is a magnificent creation that you will want to read over and over again for the joy of reading it brings you." - Blog Critics

"Guy Gavriel Kay, hunting in the twilight zone between fact and dream, has written a shimmering novel, a fantasia on Tang China, the epitome of Chinese civilization, as beautiful and as alien as the rings of Saturn … a beautiful, compulsive read…" - Locus

"What a lush and expansive world Kay has created here. What textures and nuances are called up by his prose. Under Heaven is a magisterial work, the rare kind of story that absorbs you completely into itself…. Under Heaven is literary and supremely entertaining, and it may be Kay's best yet." - SF Reviews.net

"This is an astounding book. Inspired by Tang Dynasty China, this novel is a complicated puzzle, beautifully rendered. The cast is as epic as the story and each plays an integral part-there is no waste here. This is a poetic and thought-provoking novel that will stick with readers long after they're done reading the story." - Romantic Times, Top Pick

"Kay's signature talent for interweaving various characters, motifs and storylines are on full display here…. This is a novel by a master storyteller whose gift for creating richly imagined universes that reflect our own is truly unparalleled." - Historical Boys

"[T]his is one of the very best novels I have ever read. Indeed, Under Heaven showcases a Guy Gavriel Kay at the top of his game…. I feel that Kay captured the moods and nuances of his chosen setting to perfection. And this richness of details makes for an even more impressive reading experience. Still, beyond the vividly depicted environment, it's the superb characterization that makes Under Heaven impossible to put down.… Award-winning author Guy Gavriel Kay has been one of my favorite writers for years. Hence, it came as no surprise that Under Heaven turned out to be a gorgeous and unforgettable work. I expected no less from Kay. What I didn't expect was the feeling of awe that left me speechless when I reached the end." - Fantasy Hotlist
Biographical NoteGUY GAVRIEL KAY is an international bestselling author. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in the literature of the fantastic, is a two-time winner of the Aurora Award, and won the 2008 World Fantasy Award for Ysabel, a #1 bestseller in Canada. His works have been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

Visit his Canadian website at www.guygavrielkay.ca and his authorized international website at www.brightweavings.com.