Literature / The Lions of Al-Rassan
The Lions of Al-Rassan
is a 1995 fantasy novel by Guy Gavriel Kay
. Its world is based off the Spanish Reconquista.The story begins with murder
. King Almalik of Cartada, the largest of the three Asharite kingdoms in Al-Rassan, arranges for a large number of his enemies slain in one afternoon. The Kindath physician, Jehane bet Ishak, inadvertedly keeps one of her patients from the execution, and is forced to flee her home town of Fezana. Following the event, the notorious military strategist and poet Ammar ibn Khairan of Cartada, former advisor of Almalik, is exiled. Meanwhile, in the Jaddite-controlled north, renounced Captain Rodrigo Belmonte, the man used to collect tribute from the southern kingdoms, is ordered south to quell a feud with his rival Gonzalez de Rada, and to do reconnaissance on the Asharite kingdoms in preparation for war.
Jehane meets Ammar in Fezana in the day of the massacre, the day that will changes their lives forever. However, they part ways as Jehane flees the city. Outside the city walls she meets Rodrigo, as he settles old debts with Gonzalez' brother Garcia de Rada in the midst of a particularly ugly battle. Rodrigo's life also take a turn that day, as he is sent to exile by his king, Ramiro of Valledo, following the events.
The three meet in the city of Ragosa and soon become good friends. In the service of the Ragosian king, they fight thieves, hired killers, and religious fanatics. A love triangle
begins to develop between Jehane and the two men. However, the shadow of war hangs heavy over them, and they know that soon they may see each other on opposite ends of the battlefield...
There have been rumors of a film adaptation, which have as yet come to nothing.Now has a Character Sheet
The Lions of Al-Rassan contains examples of:
- A Father to His Men: Rodrigo.
- A Friend in Need: Rodrigo and Alvar.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Jehane and Zabirah.
- Amicable Exes: Jehane and her ex from Fezana, Bakir.
- Anything That Moves: Ammar. Lampshaded more than once.
- Badass Bookworm: Jehane. Ishak is implied to be one too.
- Badass Moustache: Rodrigo and Ramiro.
- Berserk Button: Don't bring up Raymundo's death in front of Rodrigo. It will end badly.
- Better as Friends: Jehane and Alvar.
- Betty and Veronica: Jehane is Archie, Alvar the Betty and Ammar the Veronica. Mazur and Rodrigo were teased as a mixture of the two.
- Jehane is the Betty and Zabirah is the Veronica to both Ammar and Mazour.
- Teased triangle: Rodrigo as Archie, Miranda as Betty and Jehane as Veronica.
- Bi the Way: Ammar and Sir Rezzoni. Rodrigo seems to be more Ambigously Bi.
- Bittersweet Ending:
- Blithe Spirit: Ibn Musa.
- Proud Warrior Race: The Muwardi.
- Brainy Brunette: Jehane, Ammar, Rodrigo, Zabirah...
- Brutal Honesty: Jehane.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Ammar. Eventually subverted.
- The Captain: Rodrigo.
- Chekhov's Gun: A duel between Rodrigo and Ammar is suggested as a solution to a debate on Ammar's worth to Ragosa. Both men refuse while staring the other down and the mood becomes suddenly grim, as Ammar explains that if they ever fight, he doubts it would be for entertainment or to determine wages. The book climaxes with Rodrigo and Ammar fighting a duel to the death as champions of opposing armies.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Ishak ben Yonannon, Jehane's father, had his eyes and tongue cut out for saving the life of the king's concubine; that is, in order to properly save her during childbirth, he had to see her naked. His eyes were taken for having seen her naked; his tongue, so he would never describe her beauty to others. Note that this was the king's way of showing mercy - had he given in to the priests' demands, Ishak would have been killed.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Asharites are Muslims, the Jaddites are Christians, and the Kindath are Jews.
- The name "Asharite" comes from the Ash'arite school of Islamic theology  , which (along with the Maturidi and Athari) is one of the three classical schools of Sunni Muslim theology. For most of the Middle Ages, the Ash'arite school was the most widespread and dominant, including in Muslim Spain.
- Cue the Sun: in the dramatic second battle between Ammar and Rodrigo.
- Cultured Warrior: Ammar and Rodrigo. Ibn Musa becomes one.
- Dad the Veteran: Alvar's father is a medieval version of this trope.
- The Dandy: count Gonzalez. Ammar has shades of this too.
- Deadly Decadent Court: all courts described in the story fit the bill.
- Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much every single character, though it's frequently lampshaded regarding Jehane and Ammar. Overall, it's pretty much a World of Snark.
- Determinator: Most of the main characters have shades of this, but Rodrigo, Jehane and Ramiro stand out.
- Dirty Coward: Garcia.
- Disney Death: Diego
- Distant Finale:
- Dogged Nice Guy: sweet Alvar...
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The world is an analogue to Medieval Spain.
- Fiery Redhead: you don't mess with Miranda Belmonte.
- Also, Queen Inez, who can be seriously sassy, and is clearly an adult version of the Spirited Young Woman trope.
- Foregone Conclusion:
- Frontier Doctor: Jehane and Ishak. Alvar's wife.
- Grey and Gray Morality:
- Grumpy Bear: Lain Nunez, Rodrigo's second in command.
- Happily Married: Rodrigo and Miranda, Ramiro and Ines. Ammar and Jehane, Alvar and his wife.
- Has a Type: Rodrigo has a thing for Deadpan snarkers.
- Alvar is very specific- he fell in love twice, both were Kindath physicians, with dark hair and light eyes, and have a famous physician father. Could this be a Race Fetish?
- Heroic Sacrifice: Mazur ben Avren.
- While not happening "on screen", Ishak ben Yonannon can arguably count. See the Cold-Blooded Torture example above, and take into account that (as we learn later in the book) he was completely aware of what would be done to him, but went on anyway to abide by his oath as a physician.
- Also Velaz, who dies fighting despite being a Non-Action Guy.
- Historical Fantasy:
- Holier Than Thou: Ines of Valledo.
- Hospital Hottie: Jehane. Alvar becomes one.
- The Lancer: Lain to Rodrigo.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Jehane (light) and Zabirah (dark).
- Mama Bear: Miranda and Zabirah. Both are also a case of Staceys Mom.
- Married to the Job: Jehane. subverted when she marries Ammar.
- Meaningful Name: Almalik means "the king" in Arabic. "King Almalik" doubles as a Department of Redundancy Department.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: Rodrigo and Amar.
- Nice Hat: Ibn Musa's leather hat.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Rodrigo Belmonte is based on El Cid.
- Papa Wolf: Rodrigo.
- Perfect Poison: Played straight in the murder of Almalik the first. Averted with the poisoned arrow that hits Queen Ines.
- Proud Beauty: Zabirah. Ammar has shades of this too.
- Riddle for the Ages: Jehane never did find out why that quarry laborer had the symptoms of gout.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Ammar and Jehane. Eventually subverted.
- Statuesque Stunner: Miranda. Jehane is implied to be one.
- The Strategist: Mazur. Ammar is this for Cartada.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Ammar.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Jehane and Ser Rezzoni were once lovers, but it's mentioned that he sleeps with all of his female students, and some of the male ones.
- In verse Ho Yay rumors attribute this trope to the mentorship of Ammar over Almalik the first.
- The Tease: Played with in regard to Jehane. She enjoys teasing the men in her life - Rodrigo, Mazur and sometimes Ammar, but it's shown as part of their sarcastic banter, and not in order to gain sexual attention.
- Throw Away City: Sorenica.
- Triang Relations: Jehane, Ammar and Rodrigo. Type 3.
- It's really more like Type 10. Type 8 is also implied. Though angles of that are unrequited. Really it's five sides once you factor in Rodrigo's wife Miranda and Alvar's unrequited love for Jehane.
- Two Lines, No Waiting:
- Warrior Poet: Ammar.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Almalik the second. Jehane and Ibn hasan's sons have shades of this too.
- What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: The massacre(s) in Fezana.
- Will They or Won't They?: Ammar and Jehane. They do.
- Vestigial Empire: Al-Rassan, which has fallen far from its height.