Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Lions of Al-Rassan hardcover

The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995)
a fantasy inspired by medieval Spain

USA Harper Prism hardcover
510 pages
cover art by Mel Odom (left)

Canadian Penguin books paperback
582 pages
cover art by Gerard Gauci (right)

Lions of Al-Rassan Canadian paperback

From the back cover of Canadian paperback:
       Home to three very different cultures, Al-Rassan is a land of seductive beauty and violent history.  Peace among the Jaddites, Asharites and Kindath is a precarious, elusive thing; war is the ever present shadow that divides the peoples but draws extraordinary individuals together. Ammar ibn Khairan -- poet, diplomat, soldier; Rodrigo Belmonte -- accomplished military leader; and Jehane bet Ishak -- beautiful, brilliant physician; these three find their lives interwoven by a series of remarkable events that seem sure to lead Al-Rassan into a holy war.
       Hauntingly evocative of medieval Spain, The Lions of Al-Rassan is a deeply moving and exhilarating story of love, divided loyalties, and what happens to men and women when passionate beliefs conspire to remake -- or destroy -- a world.

From the inside cover of the hardback:
       The ruling Asharites of Al-Rassan have come from the desert sands, worshipping the stars, their warrior blood fierce and pure.  But over centuries, seduced by the sensuous pleasures of their new land, that stern piety has eroded.  The Asharite empire has splintered into decadent city states led by warring petty kings.
       King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendancy, adding city after city to his realm.  Cartada is threatened by forces both within and without. However, rival kings and outlaws, fanatical religious leaders, and the conquered Jaddites of the far north, are as eager to destroy each other as to regain the country they have lost, for their sun god.
       Almalik is aided always by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan -- poet, diplomat, soldier -- until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.
       Meanwhile, in the north, the Jaddite's most celebrated -- and feared -- military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, is driven into exile in the wake of events following the death of the king he loved.  Rodrigo leads his mercenary company south, to the dangerous lands of Al-Rassan.
       In the exquisite lakeside city of Ragosa, Rodrigo Belmonte and Ammar ibn Khairan meet and serve -- for a time -- the same master. Sharing the interwoven fate of these two men from different worlds -- and increasingly torn by her feelings -- is Jehane, the beautiful, accomplished court physician, whose own skills play an increasing role as Al-Rassan is swept to the brink of holy war, and beyond.

Read for group discussion on May 22, 2002

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 9 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 9 Barb 10
Aaron - Cynthia -
Jackie 9 Ron -

Our book group has also read the following books by Guy Gavriel Kay:
-- A Song for Arbonne  in December 1994
-- The Fionavar Tapestry Trilogy  in January 1998
-- The Last Light of the Sun  in September 2006
-- Ysabel in February 2009

Guy Gavriel Kay (1954-     ) is a Canadian fantasy writer.

1987 Aurora Award for The Wandering Fire
1991 Aurora Award for Tigana
2008 World Fantasy Award for novel Ysabel

Kay worked for several years during the 1970s as an assistant to Christopher Tolkien in editing J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion (1977).

Fionavar Tapestry trilogy:
-- The Summer Tree (1985)
-- The Wandering Fire (1986)
-- The Darkest Road (1986)

His following books, all stand alone fantasy novels, are:
-- Tigana (1990), set in land inspired by Italy
-- A Song for Arbonne (1992), set in an alternate troubadour era France
-- The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995), set in an alternate medieval Spain

Sarantine Mosaic duology, set in an alternate Byzantium Empire
-- Sailing to Sarantium (1998)
-- Lord of Emperors (2000)

-- The Last Light of the Sun (2004), is inspired by the Vikings and Saxon England

-- Ysabel (2007), is a fantasy set in present day in Southern France

Poetry collection
-- Beyond This Dark House (2003)

Our book club's page for The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay
Our book club's page for The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay
Our book club's page for Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy Gavriel Kay: Bright Weavings, the Authorized website
Guy Gavriel Kay - Wikipedia
SF Site Interview - A Conversation with Guy Gavriel Kay (2000)
Guy Gavriel Kay The Lions of Al-Rassan - an infinity plus review
rambles review: Guy Gavriel Kay, The Lions of Al-Rassan
The Lions of Al-Rassan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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This page was last updated February 15, 2009