Wow & wow, oh yeah & don't forget OH MY GOD!!!! I know it seemed to take me forever to get through this book, but that was mainly because it was the type of book that if I couldn't give it at least a couple of hours and 110% of my attention, I didn't want to get into it. This book is so incredibly, amazingly well written.Set in a fictional version of the Orient, it is rich in history and detail. It is a book of epic proportions, truly on a par with such authors as George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan or James Clavell. However, one of the things that prompted me to choose this book is the fact that it is a stand alone and not a part of a series, the author has recently released a book that is considered to be a sequel to this 'Under Heaven', however, while it is set in the same location the time is 400 years after that of this book. So Under Heaven can still be read as a standalone story. For me 'Under Heaven' was a wonderful introduction to an amazingly gifted author.I could go on and on about all the reasons to read this book, but I honestly feel that anything I could say would be so inadequate in regards to this book. So the best I can do is to say "Read it, let yourself fall into the story and visit another place and time, meet new and interesting characters, experience a world you would otherwise never know. Enjoy the journey that Guy Gavriel Kay will take you on."