Monday 31 July 2017

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Book Title: The Lions of Al-Rassan
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Goodreads Summary: 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 until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.
Meanwhile, in the north, the conquered Jaddites' most celebrated military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, driven into exile, leads his mercenary company south.
In the dangerous lands of Al-Rassan, these two men from different worlds meet and serve the same master. Sharing their interwoven fate 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 beyond.
What did I think? 
This book made me weep. That's all you need to know, isn't it? Guy Gavriel Kay came highly recommended by many fantasy fans, even though he doesn't write your usual fantasy. There are no elves and dwarves. There are no strange creatures and no dragons. And there is almost no magic.

Guy Gavriel Kay writes historical fantasy. The Lions of Al-Rassan is his version of medieval Spain and the conflicts between the different faiths. This book is about war and the intolerance different cultures and religions have for each other. People don't need to be evil to do the unthinkable, they just need to do it in the name of war or religion.

The book starts out slow and takes its time throughout, but about halfway through I could no longer put it down.

The writing style is very descriptive and beautiful. The characters are well developed. The world building is exciting and mesmerising and once you're hooked, Guy Gavriel Kay makes sure to punch you in the gut with all he's got.

Only one thing bothered me: Kay likes to injure his characters without telling the reader which one, and then forces the reader to rush through another chapter in a desperate attempt to find out just how upset they need to be. (And the sex scenes made me cringe... but that's often the case.)

I recommend this highly to anyone interested in history more so than fantasy.


  1. Olivia! Firstly - HOW ARE YOU??? I've been worried about you!

    I'm so glad that this one made you feel all the feels - that's what books really need to do.

    It's a little sad that there isn't much magic or even dragons (I love dragons ;) ) but this does sound really well done and if I ever get to picking this one up (I have a ginormous TBR) I will know what to expect.

    Great review

    1. I am much better thank you for asking :) I expected magic in a fantasy book... I think this one belongs more in alternate history than fantasy but I guess in the end it's the publisher's decision! My tbr is so big it's crazy!