I chose to review CHILDREN OF EARTH AND SKY because I
remembered enjoying Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry
trilogy years ago. This story has more of a historical
fantasy feel than Fionavar, recreating Renaissance Europe
on the brink of war. Kay has stand-in cities for Venice
(Seressa), Dubrovnik (Dubrava) and Istanbul (Asharias),
renamed after the fall of Constantinople.
While Kay sprinkles important people such as khalifs and
emperors and dukes throughout the tale, the story is for
the most part about smaller characters who might or might
not have large impacts and how their lives intertwine.
We meet Marin Djivo, the younger son of a merchant family
who travels with his goods, but his latest trip will change
his life. A young woman and a doctor pretend to be married
as they travel to Dubrava so he can work and she can spy. A
young artist is also aboard ship; his mission is to paint
the feared Khalif in the "Western" manner. The ship is
attacked by raiders including Danica Gradek who vows
revenge against the Asharites who burned her village and
stole her younger brother.
Kay's writing is direct and eminently readable, but it's
not a book to rush through. He tackles a number of themes,
but the one that stands out most to me is the difference of
what one wants and what one has to do and the difference in
what is expected of one and how one does things
differently. Much of the story moves forward seemingly
based on circumstances and decisions made by others. Most
of the characters are well developed and easy to root for
once you get to know them. It's more of a methodical read
than an action-packed romp.
Kay adds a bit of magic to his story with Danica being able
to speak to her grandfather's ghost. And, for fun, he
describes some events from different points of view to show
us both how characters see themselves and how they're seen
by others. The third person narrator almost has a
personality of its own, and I still can't decide what I
think of that and some of the philosophizing. I will look
for his other work and plan on going to reread the Fionavar
Tapestry as well.
The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels
Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel
Kay is back with a new book, set in a world inspired by the
conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this
tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the
borderlands—where empires and faiths
collide. From the small coastal
town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman
sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same
spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for
its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a
young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the
grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a
fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s
wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.
trading ship that carries them is commanded by the
accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent
about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a
boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the
khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.
As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of
many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends
out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the
gateway to the western world...