The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book. As with all of Kay’s writing, every sentence is a joy to read, somehow seems effortless and light, but, yet, because of the precision and eloquence, you can’t help but acknowledge it must’ve been created with great care. I think I first read this about 20 years ago and every time, I am impressed by how he’s managed to weave nuanced themes such as the struggle between self and cultural/religious identity into such a compelling narrative. It’s the kind of book you could give to anyone and they’d be able to enjoy it simply for an entertaining and moving tale, but also, if they were so inclined, for the quality and beauty of the writing and all that lays beneath.
Though it is something of alternate historical fiction with a touch of fantasy, it really is a book I have and continue to recommend to people who generally don’t read within these genres.
Interestingly, when I went to post this review this on Amazon.co.uk, I came across a very old review of mine. I’ll include it here so you can see, another decade on, my opinion still hasn’t changed:
8 July 2009
‘A great story, powerful, beautiful, and written with eloquence. I read it for the first time about ten years ago and it immediately became my favourite book. The story and characters stuck with me; I found myself thinking about modern situations and history in changed ways. I just finished a re-read – it stills resonates. I recommend it and Guy Gavriel Kay’s other works whole-heartedly.’