Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later, and his life changes again, dramatically, as he moves toward the court and emperor while war approaches Kitai from the north.
Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor and alienates the women at court. But when her father's life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.
In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading, under the river of stars, to events no one could have foretold.Read an excerpt
“River of Stars finds its greatest success in that it is both a vast, grand portrait of an entire culture, and also a very specific, personal story…While the densely woven and ever-shifting web of intrigue is masterfully managed and often brilliantly surprising in all its complexities, and the sumptuous, poetic language are also highlights, it’s the connection to the characters that captures the reader’s attention, digs hooks deep into their heart, for all 600-plus pages”.
“From whatever angle you approach it, River of Stars is a major accomplishment, the work of a master novelist in full command of his subject. It deserves the largest possible audience.”
—The Washington Post
“River of Stars is the sort of novel one disappears into, emerging shaken, if not outright changed. A novel of destiny, and the role of individuals within the march of history, it is touched with magic and graced with a keen humanity.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Kay has the uncanny ability to depict the grand sweep of historical events through the eyes of those living through them…What’s even more amazing is how through his careful rendering of character and environments we are drawn into this history…River Of Stars is an exceptional piece of work.”
—Seattle Post Intelligencer
“The master of the historical fantasy has found a canvas large enough for his ambitions. Guy Gavriel Kay's second novel based on the Chinese past is his finest work so far, a vision of tremendous scope, achieved through precise, intimate observation of a brilliant culture in the throes of disintegration and rebirth.”
Hello. I’m novelist Guy Gavriel Kay AMA
—Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything)
Podcast: Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay, author of River of Stars
“Kay’s epic novel inspired by 12th-century China is one of the best new fantasies out there.”
—What we’re reading: River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay (Ars Technica Video Interview and Review)
“Here you’ll find all the scheming and skulduggery that give “Game of Thrones” its zest, refined to the subtlest of arts. Kay invokes a world of stylized manners and deadly gambits, infused with an aesthetic founded on the most exquisite appreciation of the beauty and melancholy of the natural world.”
—“River of Stars”: Picture “Game of Thrones” in China (Salon.com)
Guy Gavriel Kay on Writing River of Stars
“Guy Gavriel Kay has a wonderful way with words that is as beautiful in this book as in any of his others. With sweeping themes and characters that are painfully easy to fall in love with, River of Stars is a masterpiece.”
—Epic Chocolate Fantasy
“This is a voyage more than worth taking”
—Q&A with Guy at Fantasy Literature
Guy’s essay on rereading featured on io9