Just as good as the print...
Beautifully written as all Kay's works.
"Her hair was unbound."
Many were moving. Kay is a lovely writer with poetic cadences and moving language. All his scenes touch you in one way or another.
I have always loved his works but this was by far my favorite book he has written. Not only is this book a wonderful story it also feels like reading a piece of artwork. Phenomenal book and worth listening too.
Another fine book by this author, this time based on a particular time in the Tang dynasty of ancient China. Again, a fantasy version of actual history??? in this case, the story of the An-Shi Rebellion. This was terrible and bloody time, when many millions died, either in the rebellion itself, or in the subsequent famines and plagues that are the inevitable sequel to such events. We move with our hero through Yang Gui Fei, the Precious Consort -- fabulous scenes, as he makes his way through gorgeous country to the startling wealth and splendor of the capital. There are women warriors (and the kind of fighting seen in recent movies such as House of Flying Daggers), and silk farms, and brilliant poets, and concubines of surpassing beauty and courage, and through it all, a gripping plot, engaging characters, and fascinating descriptions of elaborate customs ??? based on fact, which is more exotic and alien than anything a story teller could make up. I particularly loved the notion of a famous poet showing up and becoming a companion of our hero???and that everywhere they go, the poet is immediately recognized and revered. Poets were the rock stars of the day, I saw somewhere. The skill of writing poetry was a required part of the entrance exams for the civil service. A charming notion!
There is an elegiac note to the writing, an acknowledgement of time passing and the brevity of human life, often noted by way of the poems. And some of the poems quoted are very beautiful indeed. The poet in the book is based on the famous Tang poet, Li Bai. And, by a strange coincidence ??? or, maybe not so strange, Mr. Kay is obviously a well read and educated man ??? the following poem by Li Bai, quoted in the first chapter of Under Heaven, was also quoted in Patrick O???Brian???s Desolation Island:
The floor before my bed is bright:
Moonlight ??? like hoarfrost ??? in my room.
I lift my head and watch the moon.
I drop my head and think of home.
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. The story and characters are intriguing and involving. And as always, Simon Vance's performance is flawless. I have yet to come across a narrator to match him. However, the thing that sets this book apart is the last few lines. Every once in a while there comes along a story, be it a movie, television, poetry, or a book, that can grip a person by the heart and move them. The conclusion is one of those that while you don't want it to end there really is no better way to bring it to a close. I can think of no other way to describe it except satisfying. It was joy and sorrow, victory and great loss.
This book started out slow, but then quickened once the characters were developed. Interweaving historical fiction with fantasy -- in great detail -- it was a captivating listen. Unfortunately at the end, there were many character threads that had to be completed -- and it was done with almost too much speed -- I'm guessing that otherwise the book would have been twice as long.