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Science Fiction Fantasy Blog

Our discussion of Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

This almost 600 page historical fantasy saga provided for a wide-ranging discussion. A sampling of our comments are below:

  • The book started slow and picked up when the characters started talking to each other.
  • It was a mystery – who’s trying to kill Tai, and what will happen with the horses?
  • There was some humor, but not much – like the gate commander who serves Tai tea and wonders if he even noticed the luxury…
  • It was a saga with a lot going on, like Game of Thrones.
  • One problem was that the horses were a McGuffin – the whole plot revolves around them, but they aren’t brought into the story until almost the end.
  • Did the Taguran princess know the havoc her gift would cause?
  • The story immerses you in another culture. Sometimes books like this can inspire me to read real history about the era.
  • The fantasy elements were very subtle, it was more like historical fiction.
  • I don’t read fantasy to see women subjugated – ghosts are fine, but giving women rights is apparently not okay.
  • The exception was the Kanlin women who could move freely and defend themselves.
  • The political maneuvering was a little boring.
  • I liked the political intrigue and that some elements were based on the Tang dynasty.
  • The plot device of leaving cliffhangers is not appreciated.
  • The author did a good job with minor characters, like Wujen Ning who looked after the horse, Dynlal.
  • The author showed a good cross-section of society.
  • Tai’s brother was more calculating than evil.
  • It’s interesting that writing poetry was a required skill to become a civil servant.
  • How did Meshag know that Li-Mei was Tai’s sister?
  • Perhaps Meshag’s wolves were eavesdropping? Not everything is explained in fantasy the way it would be in SciFi, because: magic.

Please add any additional thoughts or comments you may have about Under Heaven. We gave this title the codes HOME, POL, HIS, LIT, & HRO with an average rating of 3.8.


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