The King's Last Song is an immersive novel of epic proportions that interweaves two Cambodian stories: Archeologist Luc Andrade discovers an ancient manuscript inscribed on gold leaves but is kidnapped — and the manuscript stolen —…
The King's Last Song is an immersive novel of epic proportions that interweaves two Cambodian stories: Archeologist Luc Andrade discovers an ancient manuscript inscribed on gold leaves but is kidnapped — and the manuscript stolen — by a faction still loyal to the ideals of the brutal Pol Pot regime.
Andrade's friends, an ex-Khmer Rouge agent and a young motoboy, embark on a trek across Cambodia to rescue him. Meanwhile, Andrade, bargaining for his life, translates the lost manuscript for his captors.
The result is a glimpse into the tremendous and heart-wrenching story of King Jayavarman VII: his childhood, rise to power, marriage, interest in Buddhism, and the initiation of Cambodia's golden age. As Andrade and Jayavarman's stories interweave, the question becomes whether the tale of ancient wisdom can bring hope to a nation still suffering from the violent legacy of the last century.
* "An unforgettably vivid portrait of Cambodian culture past and present."
—Booklist (starred review)
"Ryman's brilliant new novel, "The King's Last Song," is permeated by the theme of salvation through destruction. In parallel narratives, Ryman reveals the (imagined) memoir of 12th-century ruler and Cambodia's greatest king, Jayavarman VII, and presents the history of 20th-century Cambodia, a story of endless and eviscerating civil war. In so doing, he vividly creates a portrait of individuals whose souls are fused with that of their country, both ravaged and beautiful…. Ryman - best known as a fantasy writer but one who proved his power as an author of nuanced, rich historical fiction in the unsung novel "Was" - has not so much created as revealed a world in which the promise of redemption takes seed even in horror."
"The novel conveys not merely a story, but the light and darkness, despair and hope, tradition and Westernization that is Cambodia itself.... While peaceful William, war-consumed Map, and Cambodia-loving Luc could easily be flat, typecast characters, Ryman steers clear of such simplifications. Their interwoven histories are at times noble and at times horrifying, laced with profound emotions and punctuated with atrocities.... The King's Last Song leaves one questioning preconceptions of good and evil, and conflicted between hope for and discouragement with the human race."
For more information, or to buy the paper edition, go here: http://lcrw.net/ryman
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