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This is Alex Tokmakchiev’s vision of The Lions of Al-Rassan.
Alex Tokmakchiev writes:
“I discovered Guy Gavriel Kay’s magnificent books more than a year ago. I first got my hands on the Sarantium Mosaic, which was completely by chance. When I want to read something new I usually go to the book store and make my choice by reading the first page or two from the book, the synopsis at the back and of course by the cover art. So I picked up the first part of Sarantium Mosaic, but because of my life back then, my perception, view of the surrounding world and way of thinking I wasn’t able to fully understand it and look right at it’s core. I knew it was something, but I had a hard time discovering what exactly influenced me and how was it meaningful to me. Months later I purchased the second part Lord of Emperors and this time the experience was completely different. I realized that the first book served mostly as a introduction, a complex creation process of the world and it’s surroundings. At that time I knew what a brilliant author Kay is.
Time passed and I knew I had to find more books from Kay, but unfortunately that was a hard task, considering he is not very popular in Bulgaria and only a few of his books are officially translated and released. Months after I read the Sarantium Mosaic I went to one of the biggest libraries in my city. Needless to say I was at the fantasy section, which sadly is not as big as I would want, checking if there’s something new that I can read, some new series or maybe something that I have missed. I was looking at the shelf from the top to the bottom and when my eyes reached the bottom I saw a book from Kay, that I have not seen until then. The Lions of Al-Rassan. My choice was made. It seems that I haven’t noticed the book all those times that I have visited the library before. Or maybe it was never there when I was. I don’t know. I can find out if I want, but I prefer not to.
I got the book, went home and started reading. I was speechless. The amazing stories and characters, each with their own uniqueness and charm, the clash of different religions and especially the at first impossible, but yet never dying and continuous friendship, believe and faith. Everything was so fantastically written that I couldn’t stop reading for hours and hours, imagining every single detail, seeing how the world was being built around me and engaging in it completely. I was astonished by the magical cultures and art that was described in the book, which actually is based off the conflict and tragedy of a fragmenting world inspired by the history of reconquista Spain. All of this influenced me a lot, especially the personas of Ammar, Rodrigo, Alvar, Mazur Ben Avren and Jehanne. Their way of dealing with a world that is falling apart, their perception and view of the differences between the cultures and religions, fighting meaninglessly one with another.
What influenced me even more was the world, the way the three religions and cultures mixed together and mostly their art. The poems, the architecture, the songs and clothes. Everything. By that time I had already introduced Guy Gavriel Kay to my girlfriend and she simply fell in love with them (she eventually said that The Lions of Al-Rassan was the only book, except Lord of Emperors, that made her cry unstoppably during the last seventy pages. Heh, I cried on The Lions of Al-Rassan). In time I had created a few art pieces, some of which I had dedicated to her and one day after I was yet again talking about The Lions of Al-Rassan and new details that have captured my attention, she said to me that I have to create inspired by it. I was already thinking about it, but only after she said it out loud I decided that I would do it. I’ll take the chance I have to thank her for her constant and unquestioning belief in me and my work. If it wasn’t for her none of this would be possible. I love you, my darling.
Anyway time passed. I had in mind what I wanted to create, but I was lacking the base?, the start. One day while I was browsing the Internet I stumbled across this curious tutorial about creating a castle hallway. I quickly looked through it and mostly focused on the final result. Then I said to myself that this is it. This would be my start. I would recreate the world I want as seen through a hallway, only I would make it the way I see it. I used the tutorial as a base, as my point of support and on it I built my vision of Al-Rassan. I worked mostly at night and I put my heart and soul into it. I inscribed it with my beliefs, with my morals and emotions. I tried to capture the Spanish-Muslim art, with its colors, architecture and writings. If you look closely you will notice four faces pictured on the stones. They may not fit completely the whole atmosphere, but I had to have them in. They mean too much.
I decided to visualize a sundown and use the orange-red-black gamma, because of 3 particular lines at the end of part one of the book:
“The deeds of men, as footprints in the desert.
Nothing under the circling moons is fated to last.
Even the sun goes down.”
I myself however like to say add something more optimistic at the end – “The stars shine and remember in the night sky.”
Alex Tokmakchiev, Sierra”