We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 >   > 
Under Heaven | [Guy Gavriel Kay]

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.
Regular Price:$39.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

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.

©2010 Guy Gavriel Kay (P)2010 Penguin

What the Critics Say

"Kay writes deftly of women who are sexually suborned by their societies, neither minimizing their constraints nor denying their agency, and the complex intrigues of poets, prostitutes, ministers, and soldiers evolve into a fascinating, sometimes bloody, and entirely believable tale." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (466 )
5 star
 (218)
4 star
 (159)
3 star
 (59)
2 star
 (21)
1 star
 (9)
Overall
4.2 (245 )
5 star
 (125)
4 star
 (73)
3 star
 (30)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (7)
Story
4.4 (243 )
5 star
 (148)
4 star
 (68)
3 star
 (19)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Mike Keizer, OR, United States 07-31-10
    Mike Keizer, OR, United States 07-31-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Impressive!"

    The author uses luminous description and knowledge of ancient China to weave a rich, textured story with some supernatural twists. You feel like you have a small window focused on the scene at hand, say in a sedan chair, but widening out from that focal point is a world full of intertwining background activity. The characters are for the most part varied and interesting, in a few cases a little flat. The plot offers its share of surprises, yet I found myself a little annoyed at times by some improbable or awkward scenes. Still, this book merits 5 stars just for the poetic beauty of the writing.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurene New York 06-17-10
    Laurene New York 06-17-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    287
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    96
    37
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    24
    3
    Overall
    "A fabulous, sweeping epic"

    Although this novel is set in an imaginary country, that country is VERY closely based on Tang dynasty China. It's an elegant, refined but also often heartless world, with a strong code of honor. The hero is given the insanely generous gift of 250 perfect horses by a foreign princess, and this propels him into court life and the very complex and unpredictable political world around the emperor. There's a little bit of the supernatural in this, but not a lot. People who like George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey will mostly like love it. The writing is sublime, very much capturing the deceptively simple, melancholy poetry of the era.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-07-10
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-07-10 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1380
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    327
    262
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    388
    14
    Overall
    "evocative literary fantasy"

    Under Heaven is set in a world that strongly resembles 8th century China, though Kay takes some liberties with history, modifies familiar place names, and adds a touch of the supernatural. Though some readers might find the story's focus on political intrigue a little less than exciting, I very much enjoyed the elegant, understated simplicity of Kay's prose, which seemed to capture the feel of an era as much as the story's details. The author makes it easy to imagine the subtle, silk-clad machinations of an Imperial court, the barbarian wildness of the Mongolian steppes, the daily lives of courtesans, servants, and military officers, and their internal conflicts between family honor, ambition, duty to the empire, and their own hearts. Though I didn't grow as close to the characters as I have with other favorite works of fiction, partly out of Kay's restrained manner of presenting their lives, I found this novel to be an evocative, eloquently-written tour of a storied period in human legend and history. A quality work of literary fantasy. The audiobook reader did a fine job with accents, as well, conveying characters from different places without overdoing it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dawna Whistler, British Columbia, Canada 07-26-10
    Dawna Whistler, British Columbia, Canada 07-26-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "A joy"

    It was a joy to pick Kay up again after so many years & to hear it in audible even better. It gave me lovely long stretches traveling to far off places being part of the conversations & adventure; in a way I never achieved through reading even when it was an option.
    Thank you for this lovely production

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    9 Devils NC, USA 04-10-12
    9 Devils NC, USA 04-10-12

    9 Devils

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One of Kay's best"

    Highly recommended. For fans of Kay, a must read. For those who haven't read him before, he writes highly literary fantasy that is usually modeled on and highly influenced by real places and cultures. Here, Tang dynasty China is the model. For someone who minored in Chinese and Chinese culture and history, I have to say he nailed so many aspects. The poetry, culture, rituals, and general outlook feel real, and though obviously Chinese-influenced, as always Kay does more than just copies the culture in question; it's more about the feel than the details. It is fantasy after all. The story is excellent, though it does take a while to get going, so stick with it. Kay's writing ranges from straightforward and simple to highly poetic, and there were many lines I had to rewind and listen to again just to appreciate not just their aesthetic beauty, but the depth of meaning. Kay is simply one of the best fantasy writers of all time, in my opinion. I believe that if the genre was not looked down upon by so many in the critical establishment, he would be recognized as one of the best stylists currently writing. Voice performance is excellent as well.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony Burlington, ONTARIO, Canada 06-02-13
    Tony Burlington, ONTARIO, Canada 06-02-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    83
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    182
    46
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    19
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "BEAUTIFULLY DESCRIPTIVE"

    I came to this story because I wished to hear another narration by Simon Vance and I was not disappointed either by Simon Vance or the beautifully descriptive prose on offer from Mr Kay. The sights, smells and sounds of the Tang Dynasty of China envelope you as the story of political intrigue, love, respect, power and family is told in this wonderful novel. We in the West tend to minimize the ancients of the East and this story serves to transport us to China and the civilization that had values that would serve us well by reappearing in our society; family, respect and tradition to name a few. Time well spent.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-07-10
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-07-10 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1380
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    327
    262
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    388
    14
    Overall
    "evocative literary fantasy"

    Under Heaven is set in a world that strongly resembles 8th century China, though Kay takes some liberties with history, modifies familiar place names, and adds a touch of the supernatural. Though some readers might find the story's focus on political intrigue a little less than exciting, I very much enjoyed the elegant, understated simplicity of Kay's prose, which seemed to capture the feel of an era as much as the story's details. The author makes it easy to imagine the subtle, silk-clad machinations of an Imperial court, the barbarian wildness of the Mongolian steppes, the daily lives of courtesans, servants, and military officers, and their internal conflicts between family honor, ambition, duty to the empire, and their own hearts. Though I didn't grow as close to the characters as I have with other favorite works of fiction, partly out of Kay's restrained manner of presenting their lives, I found this novel to be an evocative, eloquently-written tour of a storied period in human legend and history. A quality work of literary fantasy. The audiobook reader did a fine job with accents, as well, conveying characters from different places without overdoing it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JudyWren Cincinnati, OH 08-11-10
    JudyWren Cincinnati, OH 08-11-10

    Judy P

    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Breathtaking"

    I finished listening to this book a few hours ago and my head is still full of the magic of Kay's world. The descriptions were beautiful, the story line is huge, the emotion is raw. I will have to listen again to grasp the nuance of many passages. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

    Kay usually writes beautiful fantasy novels. I really can't find the line between ancient China and fantasy in "Under Heaven". It is all Heavenly.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    StuartS Portland, OR, United States 01-28-13
    StuartS Portland, OR, United States 01-28-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    155
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful, Poetic, Addictive"

    This is simply one of the best books I have ever listened to. There is action and intrigue in good measure, turns in the tale and above all a sweeping sense of beauty both in the words themselves but most importantly within the characters and most especially the overall story and especially the end.

    Just writing this I am remembering the various endings to the characters stories, especially the final words of the book and it is sending shivers down my spine. Normally in a complex book when the author epilogues to wrap up the tales of the various characters it is simply a nice closure, the main action having been finished with. In this book it is a new high of emotion on top of an already epic novel.

    Additional points for actual and good poetry that really adds to and fits with the story and characters. It has magic in the tiniest sprinklings and although some of the magic is somewhat important to the story it is really more of a metaphor for the characters motivations and feelings.

    In other reviews I always appreciate hints at what this book is "like". So I will attempt that too: If you like Brandon Sanderson's fantasy novels then this is those only more subtle and poignant. It is what Raymond Fiest and Janny Wurtz almost achieved together in the Mistress of the Empire series.

    In short it is every minute worth it and you will be sad when it is over not just because you have finished but also because it is a very moving story. Off to buy more of his books right now (The Lions of Al-Rassan also brilliant).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fernando Crestline, CA, United States 10-06-10
    Fernando Crestline, CA, United States 10-06-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    68
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "No what I expected"

    As always; the narration from Simon Vance was absolutely fantastic. The book is beautifully written as a tale of fantasy, beauty, honor and romance. However, listening to the entire book was very difficult because in some parts it was very slow and boring and in general very few exciting events took place throughout the book. I wish Audible would release a new version of SHOGUN read by Simon Vance.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 35 results PREVIOUS124NEXT
Sort by:
  • Rachel
    Dromahair, Ireland
    7/5/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Elegant mixture of history and fantasy"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would definitely recommend this book. It's delicate and intricate portrayal of Tang dynasty China is utterly convincing. The characters are well drawn and their destinies pulled me in and caught my interest and sympathy.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Under Heaven?

    I love the sections about the woman rescued from her plight by the strange man (is he dead? Is he enchanted or sick?) and his wolves.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Simon Vance is a wonderful narrator, subtle and accomplished. His characters are always totally convincing. I loved his narration of The Cold Commands, The Little Stranger and other good books, and look forward hearing him read more.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There are lots of enjoyable moments. I don't want to give too much away!


    Any additional comments?

    This is just an excellent read. It had me looking up the Tang dynasty and the Great Wall, and I have never been very interested in Chinese history. Although it is called fantasy, and doesn't stick to historical fact, most of the 'fantasy' elements are just to do with the way people saw the world at that time - their beliefs in spirits etc. Its not hard-core fantasy at all, just a great story, well told and beautifully read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-1 of 1 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.