We bought the e-book of his latest, Under Heaven, and I clicked on chapter 2 to make sure the text came through okay because, I don't know, it was there. And I saw these opening paragraphs:
Bytsan sri Nespo was furious with himself, to the point of humiliation. He knew what his father would have said, and in what tone, had he witnessed this shame.
He had just bowed—far too deferentially—when the Kitan, having removed his stupid hat for some reason, said he was honoured that the Lion knew his name in Rygyal, so far away in glory.
But it was a gracious thing to say, and Bytsan had found himself bowing, hand wrapped around fist in their fashion (not that of his own people), before he was able to stop himself. Perhaps it had been the hat, after all, the deliberate self-exposure of that gesture.
The Kitan could do such things to you, or this one could.
Just when you’d decided, one more time, that they were all about their centre-of-the-world arrogance, they could say and do something like this from within the breeding and courtesy they donned like a cloak—while clutching a completely ridiculous straw hat.
What did you do when that happened? Ignore it? Treat it as decadence, softness, a false courtesy, unworthy of note on ground where Taguran soldiers had fought and died?
and I practically recoiled from the screen. I don't know if his style has genuinely descended to self-parody or if I've developed a sudden allergy to his it—I almost hope the first, because now I'm not sure if I dare re-read the Sarantine Mosaic, which I loved.
Anyone read this yet? What did you think?