Guy Gavriel Kay
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View our feature on Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven.In his latest innovative novel, the award-winning author evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China in a story of honor and power.
Inspired by the glory and power of Tang dynasty China, Guy Gavriel Kay has created a masterpiece.
It begins simply. Shen Tai, son of an illustrious general serving the Emperor of Kitai, has spent two years honoring the memory of his late father by burying the bones of the dead from both armies at the site of one of his father's last great battles. In recognition of his labors and his filial piety, an unlikely source has sent him a dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses.
You give a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You give him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.
Wisely, the gift comes with the stipulation that Tai must claim the horses in person. Otherwise he would probably be dead already...
Then she decides that’s the wrong music to be thinking about tonight. She is alone here. She’s confident of that. Her maidservants have been dismissed for the night. One will remain in the suite of rooms against her mistress’s return, but Rain has stayed out late in the garden with her pipa before. A mild eccentricity, usefully established. And Wen Zhou doesn’t spy on his women. His mind doesn’t run that way. He can’t actually conceive, Rain believes, that they would not be devoted and
reasons for this. One of them, however, is surely the savage intensity of what has just happened in Teng Pass, the words spoken, violence embedded—and with more to come. Surely, now, to come? Another reason, on an infinitely smaller scale, shameful, almost unworthy of acknowledging, is that she’s still recovering from the effect of the heavy, too-sweet smell that had come from An Li’s sedan chair when she’d accompanied the Kanlin carrying the scroll to him. She’d been next in line when he was
rooftop, behind the four other soldiers who had rushed up from the far end of the lane. He made as urgent a decision as he had in a long time. “Song, no! Wait! Leave them!” Wei Song landed, rolled, and stood up. She hadn’t been going to a courtesan house: issues of courtesy had not applied. She drew both her swords from the scabbards behind her and extended them. “Why?” was all she said. Tai drew a steadying breath. “Because there are twenty more soldiers here, not all of them incompetent,
court for three years, had been readying herself to be married before their father died. Another image: northern lake, cabin aflame, fires burning. Smell of charred flesh, men doing unspeakable things to the dead, and to those not yet dead. Memories he would have liked to have left behind by now. He became aware that he was clenching his fists. He forced himself to stop. He hated being obvious, transparent, it rendered a man vulnerable. It was, in fact, Eldest Brother Liu who had taught him
had thought she was beginning to understand. “No. Too soon. I think he sees me when I leave to find horse. Or before, as we came here.” “He just saw a chance to take me?” “For himself, or for reward, might be. He sees me to know me. Who I am. Watching the wolves might have told him. Then it takes time to make a spell to shape-change.” Li-Mei is thinking hard. “He could have just come in and seized me when you left? No?” He considers that. “Yes. So must have meant to take you to them. Maybe