The Lions of Al-Rassan

Posted by : atcampbell | On : November 5, 1996

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

On November 5, eight of us met at the FACT Office to discuss Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan, a fantasy set in a world patterned much after historical Spain. One of the group’s regular members was unable to attend, but she liked the book enough to e-mail me a set of detailed comments to bring to the discussion. Opinions differed widely on this book, as shown by the following comments from early in the discussion: “I LOVE this book”, “bittersweet but believable”, “Kay’s done better but this is still an above average fantasy”, and “as a reader, I felt consistently cheated by Guy Gavriel Kay”. We all liked the story and found Kay’s writing style readable, but several of us felt that he tried to pull off too much trickery in his use (or misuse) of point of view. The book is basically a historical novel full of heroic deeds, romance, and extremely competent men and women, with only a couple of minor speculative elements included. The story follows the conventions of classical tragedy much more than it follows the traditions of high fantasy. Closing comments on this book included “I like his characters”, “would be more interesting if characters had different strengths and more weaknesses”, and “I wonder if the country Karch is named after the beach volleyball player”.

Our next meeting will be a discussion of K. W. Jeter’s Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human at Adventures in Crime and Space on November 19. Since this book is supposedly a sequel to both Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner, several members of our group will be viewing the film in preparation for this discussion. Our meetings are always open to all comers, so anyone who’s read the book and wants to discuss it should feel free to join us.

— A. T. Campbell, III