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Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay

Lord of Emperors (2000)

by Guy Gavriel Kay

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Sarantine Mosaic (2), Tigana Universe (3)

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1,588304,590 (4.17)121
  1. 20
    Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World by Colin Wells (Busifer)
    Busifer: Reading this book makes you realize how much of what Kay wrote in The Sarantine Mosaic was lifted from 'real' history, but it also deepens your knowledge of the era and what it has meant to modern society.

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...Lord of Emperors offers everything a reader might wish from a Guy Gavriel Kay novel. Beautiful language, an eye for historical detail, the drama of history unfolding through the eyes of large and small players. I greatly enjoyed the setting in particular. The story itself is appropriately Byzantine, but in its treatment of his characters, the female ones in particular, it is perhaps a bit over the top. The slow afterburn that concludes the novel doesn't do it any favours either. All things considered it is a good but not exceptional novel.

Full Random Comments review. ( )
  Valashain | Mar 19, 2017 |
Simply beautiful. I'm gutted that it's over. proper review later on at kateofmind.blogspot.com ( )
  KateSherrod | Aug 1, 2016 |
Made an attempt to read this book. Because I hadn't read the earlier books of the series, it made no sense. Got maybe ten pages in and gave up ( )
  gilroy | Nov 13, 2014 |

Lord of Emperors is the second (and final) novel in Guy Gavriel Kay??s THE SARANTINE MOSAIC duology. The story, set in a pseudo-Byzantine Empire, mostly centers on Crispin, a mosaicist from a neighboring kingdom whoƒ??s been commissioned to decorate the ceiling of a new chapel the emperor is building. Against his wishes, Crispin has been drawn into the Sarantine courtƒ??s political intrigue. In this second installment, the political turmoil finally comes to a head and Crispinƒ??s life is, once again, drastically altered by events he canƒ??t control. Not only are his and his friendsƒ?? lives in danger, but the changing political climate has major consequences for his art.

While reading Sailing to Sarantium, the first book in the THE SARANTINE MOSAIC, I had a hard time believing in the characters and the drama ƒ?? I thought the plot lacked the world-shaking significance that the characters seemed to be overwhelmed by at every moment. I felt manipulated ƒ?? like Kay was showing me murder, lust, adultery, shocking brutality, witty repartee, and titillating suggestions to make me feel like there was more going on than there really was. While I liked Kayƒ??s characters, it felt like a big soap opera to me and I was impatient with the story.

The first part of Lord of Emperors is more of the slow drama and introspection that occurred in Sailing to Sarantium ƒ?? every character analyzing what everyone else says, scrutinizing each gesture, contemplating every look, even reporting how they would think about this word or that gesture when they looked back on it sometime in the future. Weƒ??re reminded over and over how subtle and dangerous everybody is:

The room seemed laden and layered with intricacies of past and present and what was to come. Nuances coiling and spreading like incense, subtle and insistent.

There are several sweet and touching scenes, but most of Lord of Emperors is more of the melodrama of Sailing to Sarantium. Finally, about 2/3 of the way through, there is a major upheaval followed by a slow unwinding of its tragic consequences. There are some real heartbreaking scenes in the last third of the novel, and the story ends on a beautifully bittersweet note. It just takes a really long time to get there.
Guy Gavriel Kayƒ??s strength is making his characters come alive. Thus, when the big events finally occur, they really are painful and tragic and we worry about these peopleƒ??s futures. I cared about Crispin, his queen, the charioteers, and the cook and his apprentice. However, I didnƒ??t feel the need to be privy to every thought they had along the way ƒ?? how many times do I need to be told that Crispin is thinking that only two women in the world wear a particular perfume? THE SARANTINE MOSAIC should have been trimmed down to just one book ƒ?? I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

I also think I would have felt more appreciation for THE SARANTINE MOSAIC if I had read it earlier in my acquaintance with Guy Gavriel Kayƒ??s work. His world and characters are so full of life, thereƒ??s so much drama and passion, and I admire the character development. At this point in my reading history, however, I canƒ??t help but notice that Kayƒ??s intrusive style, which Iƒ??ve always thought of as almost over-the-top, never changes. Now that Iƒ??ve read ten of his novels, what I once admired ƒ?? the type of story, the deep characterization, that particular distinctive prose ƒ?? starts to become tiresome. If youƒ??re new to Kay, or if you canƒ??t get enough of his style, youƒ??ll have a better experience with THE SARANTINE MOSAIC than I did.

Again I listened to Audible Frontierƒ??s audio production which was narrated by Berny Clark. Dialogue is his strength ƒ?? I thought it was perfect. His narration is a little too slow (I had to speed him up) and I think some listeners will think itƒ??s also a little bland, but I liked how his reading didnƒ??t elevate Kayƒ??s drama even further. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy Gavriel Kayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Birdsong, KeithCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rostant, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Timing and turning in a widening gyre . . .
Aut lux hic est, aut capta hic libera regnat.
Light was either born here or, held captive, here reigns free.

---Inscription in Ravenna, among the mosaics
I think that if I cold be given a month of Antiquity and leave top spend it where I chose, I would spend it in Byzantium a little before Justinian opened St. Sophia and closed the Academy of Plato. I think I could find in some little wine-shop some philosophical worker in mosaic who could answer all my questions, the supernatural descending nearer to him . . .

W.B. Yeats, A Vision
For Sam and Matthew,
'the singing-masters of my soul.'

This belongs to them, beginning and end.
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Amid the first hard winds of winter, the King of Kings of Bassania, Shirvan the Great, Brother to the Sun and Moons, Sword of Perun, Scourge of Black Azal, left his walled city of Kabadh and journeyed south and west with much of his court to examine the state of his fortifications in that part of the lands he ruled, to sacrifice at the ancient Holy Fire of the priestly caste, and to hunt lions in the desert.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061020028, Mass Market Paperback)

For whatever reason, Guy Gavriel Kay just insists on getting better and better. Sailing to Sarantium outshone the already excellent Lions of Al-Rassan, and now Lord of Emperors--the stunning second half of the Sarantine Mosaic--somehow surpasses even its predecessors.

Emperors picks up the story of the overwhelmed but still tenacious Crispin, now Imperial Mosaicist to Valerius II and thoroughly steeped in the machinations of Sarantium--not to mention being personally entangled in the lives of the emperor, the empress, and now his own queen, the exiled Gisel. Lord of Emperors also sends a new protagonist sailing into Sarantium, an unassuming country doctor who--like Caius--has found himself thrust into a position of great potential and peril, a victim of both circumstance and his own competence and moxie. The two struggle to stay afloat in Sarantium's swirling intrigues, as Valerius prepares for war in Crispin's homeland and unexplained, ghostly fires flicker around the city.

A touching, literate, and doggedly intelligent book, Lord of Emperors continues to prove Kay's mastery of historical fantasy (Sarantium being a well-researched analog to sixth-century Byzantium under Justinian and Theodora), as he gracefully spins a rich, convincing weave of legend and history. While other fantasy titles might have us imagine our lives as great heroes, Kay leaves a far more lasting impression by celebrating the heroics and passions of ordinary people who possess extraordinary character and spirit. --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:34 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

FANTASY. The thrilling sequel to Sailing To Sarantium and the concluding novel of The Sarantine Mosaic, Kay's sweeping tale of politics, intrigue and adventure inspired by ancient Byzantium. Beckoned by the Emperor Valerius, Crispin, a renowned mosaicist, has arrived in the fabled city of Sarantium. Here he seeks to fulfill his artistic ambitions and his destiny high upon a dome that will become the emerror's magnificent sanctuary and legacy. But the beauty and solitude of his work cannot protect his from Sarantium's intrigue. Beneath him the city swirls with rumors of war and conspiracy, while otherworldly fires mysteriously flicker and disappear in the streets at night. Valerius is looking west to Crispin's homeland to reunite an Empire -- a plan that may have dire consequences for the loved ones Crispin left behind.… (more)

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