- The Lions of al-Rassan © 1995
- Viking: Penguin
- 582 pages
What do you get when you cram three religions into one peninsula? The Lions of Al-Rassan, of course. Guy Gavriel Kay has created three interesting religions based loosely on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The book covers a number of decades as the land trades hands between the religious groups.
As the page count increased, I felt like I had read this book before (even though I had not). Many of the popular themes in Kay’s books are evident here. During a representative sword fight between two armies, I couldn’t shake the feeling I had returned to Arbonne. The sparse narration of decades of history following the climax of the human story foreshadowed his masterful use of the technique in Under Heaven.
I found this to be an average outing for Kay. (Of course, an average day for Kay is the highlight of many other writers!) The sheer volume of descriptive prose often overwhelmed the narrative. His sparse use of fantastical elements felt like a purposeless deus ex machina.
If you’re new to Kay, there are many better places to start: The Fionavar Tapestry or Under Heaven for example. This novel felt more like a dress rehearsal.