I wanted to read this for a long time.
Story starts with Shen Tai being gifted 250 Sardian horses (a very valuable breed) by a Tagur (a rival kingdom) princess for his work of burying the dead of a great battle between the kingdoms of Kitai and Tagur. Shen Tai had been doing this in memory of his father. On his last day (after two years of burying the dead), Shen Tai faces an assassination attempt by a Kanlin Warrior (trained and most feared warriors). Somehow Shen Tai survives this attempt. Bytsan sri Nespo, a soldier of the rival army who bring him the news of 250 sardian horses gift, makes a plan that only Shen Tai can retrieve the horses from the Tagur border. Shen Tai begins his journey to his Kitai emperor to let him know about the gift. After reaching the capital Shen Tai finds himself right in the middle of a power struggle, a battle of jealousy between two most powerful man in the empire and the impending danger of a rebellion.
“The world could bring you poison in a jewelled cup, or surprising gifts. Sometimes you didn't know which of them it was.”
More than fantasy it is a historical fiction. GGK is a master of storytelling. The way he explains events is simply beautiful. He takes his time telling about the background of the events and what led to these events. His graceful writing and lyrical prose is very engrossing till the very end.
GGK’s stories are so different from other fantasies that I’ve read. Characters full of bravery, love, deception and compassion. His characters are very simple and the words he choose to describe them are exceptional.
Other strong point of this story is its world building. GGK definitely does a thorough research about the world he is about to create in his books.
It is not Tigana but still it is a very gorgeous work.