Image of River of Stars


Image of River of Stars

Although the various plotlines in Kay’s River of Stars eventually come together in surprising ways that draw the reader in, the book is slow to start and confusing at first. The characters are relatable and admirable, but readers might have a hard time being engaged by the fractured storyline. In addition, the book is anchored in history more than fantasy. It is an intriguing world with occasional magical elements and obvious connections to the fantastic past of the Chinese. Despite the slow start, the book is worth a read for those who enjoy historical fiction and exciting war scenes mixed with the nuances of court intrigue.

Ren Daiyan is the son of a clerk for the glorious Kitan Empire. After an unexpected outlaw attack, Daiyan gets a chance to test his survival skills. While Daiyan explores the outlaw lifestyle, the court in Kitan is experiencing a subtle war between the emperor’s advisers, each trying to determine Kitan’s future. The battle with the Xialou in the north has vastly different results than expected, and the broken Kitan Empire is forced to try and draw together to fight the newly power-hungry Altai. The possibility of war brings about many unexpected friendships and alliances, including Ren Daiyan and Lin Shan, wife of a relative of the emperor. As the book reaches its climax, the characters are tested in ways they never expected and the Kitan Empire will never be the same. (ROC, Apr., 576 pp., $26.95)
Reviewed by: 
Annalee Schuck