[By Nic Lindh on Monday, 24 November 2003]
Guy Gavriel Kay is one of the most interesting authors working in the fantasy genre today, and The Lions of Al-Rassan is one of his best works.
The Lions of Al-Rassan takes place in a fictitious setting closely resembling medieval Spain, where a declining culture is beset with difficulties external as well as internal. Mr. Kay provides an intricate and moving plot with great detail, and his prose is sensuous and evocative.
While this is fantasy, Mr. Kay, as usual, avoids the clichés of the genre. Indeed, there is almost no magic, no non-humans, and no Dark Lord bent on world domination. The plot revolves solidly around the foibles of men and women, all driven by purely human desires and instincts.
My one nit to pick with the book is the sometimes annoying greatness of our protagonists. It becomes a bit stifling when all the main characters are paragons of virtue and greatness, even though they are tried and tempted.
The Lions of Al-Rassan is a great read, and really makes me want to bone up on the history of medieval Spain.