The King’s Last Song

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.

About the author.


“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)

The Khmer Times


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  • Cover art © Pablo Carral Vega (from Corbis) and Jeremy Horner (Panos).