This is an astounding book. Inspired by Tang dynasty China, this novel is a complicated puzzle, beautifully rendered. The cast is as epic as the story and each plays an integral part -- there is no waste here. This is a poetic and thought-provoking novel that will stick with readers long after they're done reading the story.
Shen Tai, the second son of a general, has spent his mourning period burying the bones of the dead at the site of an epic battle between empires. His efforts have brought him an unlikely honor: 250 Sardian horses -- the most coveted horseflesh in the world. This gift is beyond all imagining and puts Tai in tremendous danger. As he heads toward the glittering capital city of Xinan, he discovers that the gift of the horses isn't the only complication in play, and that as political currents shift he must think quickly and assuredly if he wishes to survive. (ROC, May, 512 pp., $26.95)