River of Stars is the newest book by Guy Gavriel Kay. It’s an alternate history set in an alternate China during what we would call the Song dynasty.
Kitai is an empire that is in the midst of its twelfth dynasty, and while it is still a great empire, it has lost much of the power and land it had in its heyday. As a boy, Ren Daiyan dreams of the lost rivers and mountains of Kitai, and he carries this dream into adulthood, first as an outlaw, then as a soldier for the emperor.
Lin Shan is a girl raised by a doting father, who has taught her to read and write, and to be a scholar. The journey of Lin Shan and Ren Daiyan spans war, political intrigue, countries and cities. Individually and together, they try and live honorably and courageously, as they face a changing world.
This is a book that is epic in scope, but also intimate in its details and characterizations. A beautiful read that entertains as well as makes you think.