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Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
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Children of Earth and Sky

by Guy Gavriel Kay

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In Children of Earth and Sky, a return to the world of both The Sarantine Mosaic and The Lions of Al-Rassan, Kay draws on a different chapter of real-world history to build a compelling story. Several factions compete for power: Seressa, the fictional representation of Venice, plots through political intrigue and economic control; Senjan and Dubrava, representing Balkan nation states, alternately either resist or comply with stronger factions through guerilla warfare and piracy or through mercantilism and political neutrality; and Asharias, which was once Sarantium, rules through both religious and militaristic might.

The heart of why I love to read Kay is his amazing ability to create characters with complexity and nuance, a feat he repeats in Children of Earth and Sky. Leonora, a woman struggling to find her place in a world with too many closed doors, was my personal favorite, but no less compelling are Danica, a fierce young woman from a city of raiders and pirates; Pero, a young artist sent to both paint a portrait of and also spy on the most powerful man in the world; Marin, the younger son of a merchant family seeking his place in the world; and Damaz, and young trainee in the army of the khalif who has never known another life.

Kay’s use of fantastical elements differs slightly here from earlier works. Previously he has tended to use singular moments of power where characters brushed the half-world only briefly, but emerged deeply changed – Pwyll on the Summer Tree, or the zubir in the forest grove. Here the supernatural element is more constant and sustained, and so by necessity is less cataclysmic, although it is no less important or meaningful for it.

My only complaint for this book was in the final act, where at times the scope of the work changes drastically. Kay zooms in and out of history, and sometimes that shift is jarring – where we had just been spending every day with our characters suddenly we are learning what will happen in the decades and centuries to come. While it scratches the "but what happened after that?” itch quite nicely, it also sometimes felt a little bit too much, or maybe a little too pat… or maybe I’m just greedy and would rather Kay had written several more novels at the same time, to cover those intervening years.

Many sincere thanks to NetGalley for my opportunity to review this work. ( )
  alchemie | Apr 2, 2018 |
Have you ever as a reader given a novel you did not finish another chance?

Well, there is a first time for everything. I gave Children of Earth and Sky a second chance. I read it a couple years ago when it was first released. Kay writes beautifully, and the characters were well-developed. But, I stopped reading it three-quarters of the way through. Two years later, I’m giving it a redo. Glad, I made that decision. Children of Earth and Sky will be one of my favorite reads in 2018.

Kay builds this novel on the backdrop of the Italian Renaissance and the Ottoman Empire. He tells this story through several characters, Pero Villani, a young artist who has been commissioned to paint the great leader of the east (referring to the Ottoman Empire), Leonora Valeri, a young woman who was passing for a doctor’s wife but became a spy, and Danica Gradek, a female warrior searching for her brother who was taken away from the family as a child.

Also, there is a cast of minor characters that have key roles in a world where religious conflicts, political gamesmanship, and war are the norm. The great leader of east decides to sends his large army west to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world and conquer the infidels. However, the main characters carry out their perspective parts in keeping the conquest from the east from happening.

Children of Earth and Sky reads more like historical fiction than a traditional epic fantasy novel. However, there were supernatural elements woven into the narrative deftly by the author. As stated at the beginning of this review, I’m glad I gave this novel a second chance. I was totally engrossed by the “history-that-never-was” but felt like it actually happened. This is the second Guy Gavriel Kay novel I have read. I will definitely be reading more of his work in the future. Recommended. ( )
  kammbiamh | Mar 25, 2018 |
Children of Earth and Sky is classically Kay: four characters (a spy, an artist, a pirate and a Janissary) pass through and in various ways influence events following the fall of Sarantium to the Asharites (that world's analogue of the fall of Constantinople). Like Crispin in The Sarantine Mosaic, they are peripheral: their various actions just miss having an immediate major impact until the one whom one would think least likely - the artist - changes the course of events for the next couple of generations decisively.

One obvious parallel is Dunnet's The Year of the Ram, set mainly in Trebizond in a similar time frame. Kay is not in a position to provide as close-grained an image of the life of the time and place as Dunnet is: he has to deal with the limitations as well as the advantages of a made-up world. But Dunnet can't alter the succession of events, and Niccolo remains a onlooker to a course of events he (by definition) can't really affect.

This is not quite at Kay's very best, but it is rewarding reading and throws some interesting perspectives on some of his earlier novels. ( )
  jsburbidge | Mar 21, 2018 |
When I got to the end of this 571 page book, I didn't want to stop reading about this world and these people, so I turned to the beginning and read it all over again. And it was even better the second time. ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
The story is okay, but the writing is bad, bad, bad. One word sentences, two word sentences, and some sentences that don't make any ahh, sense. ( )
  charlie68 | Dec 29, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451472969, Hardcover)

The bestselling author of the ground breaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, 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.
 
The 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...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 27 Jul 2015 19:49:38 -0400)

"The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, 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. The 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..."--… (more)

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