The Spotlight: The Lions Of Al-Rassan By Guy Gavriel Kay


Published almost twenty years ago, it’s long past time for me to check this book out; maybe for you, too.


Book CoverThe Lions Of Al-Rassan by Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay is a book that has been recommended to me on a number of occasions, by several different people, so it has been on my to read list for a while now. I recently got hold of a copy, though it’s likely to be a few weeks before I actually get around to reading it.

For the benefit of those readers who, like me, have not read this book yet, here is a brief summary of the appeal of the book, and hopefully why it may also be a title that will be of interest to you.

The Lions Of Al-Rassan is one of those novels that I categorise as being Historical Fantasy, as its narrative and fictional setting has clearly been inspired by real world locations and historical events. The period of history in question being the twilight years of Islamic rule over the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal), that lasted for eight centuries. While this particular chapter of European history is intriguing in its own right, The Lions Of Al-Rassan is not intended to be an alternate history novel in the conventional sense, so readers should keep that in mind before bemoaning possible historical inaccuracies.

The author’s choice to use the medieval history of the Iberian Peninsula, specifically the beginning of the Reconquista, as the inspiration for his novel is not the only (or even the main) reason that attracted me to The Lions Of Al-Rassan. I’m often drawn to tales of political intrigue, and to a lesser extent religiously motivated conflict, and everything I’ve heard about this book suggests that it contains a great deal of both. I’m looking forward to finally reading this novel, and once I’ve done so you can be sure that a review will swiftly follow.

* * * * *


Over the centuries, the once stern rulers of Al-Rassan have been seduced by sensuous pleasures. Now King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendency, adding city after city to his realm, aided by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan – poet, diplomat, soldier – until a summer day of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.

Meanwhile, in the north, the Jaddite’s most celebrated – and feared – military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, and Ammar meet. Sharing the interwoven fate of both men 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…

In a magnificent setting, hauntingly evocative of medieval Spain, The Lions Of Al-Rassan is both a brilliant adventure and a deeply moving story of love, divided loyalties, and what happens to men and women when hardening beliefs begin to remake – or destroy – a world.

If this is not enough to tempt you to put The Lions Of Al-Rassan on your to read list, below are links to a number of reviews around the blogosphere that might persuade you to do so.

The Wertzone
The James Review
Speculative Book Review
Flights Of Splendor
Fyrefly’s Book Blog
Escapism Through Books
The Idle Woman
Carla Nayland
Ela’s Book Blog


The Spotlight

Shining a spotlight on those books, series, authors and publishers most deserving of more attention, and a wider audience of readers.


2 comments on “The Spotlight: The Lions Of Al-Rassan By Guy Gavriel Kay

  1. I read this book a few months ago and found it fantastic – it’s so richly written and makes excellent use of the potential in that historical period. I’m currently reading my second GGK book, Sailing To Sarantium, and given the reasons you’ve picked up Lions I think you’d enjoy that too – political manoeuvring, religiously driven conflict, deep setting, this time using the Byzantine Empire in the centuries after the fall of Rome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s