Geoff Ryman - published September 2008
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.
The King’s Last Song was originally published in the UK by HarperCollins. This new edition has an new extended afterword by the author, “A Reality Check on The King’s Last Song,” in which Geoff Ryman notes how both his sources and experiences added to the writing of the novel.
Read Chapter One.
“Modern Cambodia, portrayed here, is still a wreck, beset by memories of mass murder. Like William the motoboy, everyone concentrates on escaping poverty and rising above their station. Surprisingly few, though, dwell on vengeance; there is a new generation, Ryman seems to say, capable of the stratospheric feats of the country’s legendary royalty.”
— Washington City Paper
* “An unforgettably vivid portrait of Cambodian culture past and present.”
— Booklist (starred review)
- Audio from the Rick Kleffel’s Agony Column:
—Geoff Ryman reads from The King’s Last Song.
—Geoff Ryman reads from The Child Garden.
—Panel Discussion with Geoff Ryman, Ellen Klages, Terry Bisson, and Nalo Hopkinson: SF in SF, November 15, 2008.
- Arts in Cambodia: 90 minute radio special broadcast on Resonsance FM in London in 2004. Music and interviews with Cambodian poets, novelists, playwrights, arts organizations, dance and performance artists and a pop star.(100 MB)
- I Let My Pen Bleed: an hour radio show on Khmer and Khmer-American rap with music and interviews with Sok Visal, A Ping, Tony Real, DJ Boomer, Silong and Prach Ly. Broadcast 2006 by Resonance FM in London. (70 MB)
On the web:
- Geoff Ryman
- ISFDB | Scifipedia | Wikipedia | Library Thing | Goodreads
- Find The King’s Last Song in a library near you.
- Cover art © Pablo Carral Vega (from Corbis) and Jeremy Horner (Panos).