Guy Gavriel Kay: Children of Earth and Sky



A dozen ey players in this epic drama First there s Danica Gradek a young woman from Senjan who joins a group of raiders to harry Seressa ships that trade with the Ashar The Asharites destroyed her village when she was a child Ask the Past killing most of her family and stealing away her younger brother However unbeknownst to her at the beginning of this novel Danica s brother was actually taken to be trained as a djanni an elite soldier for the Osmanli Empire Formerlynown as Neven Gradek he is now Damaz brought up in the Asharite ways and ready to be deployed on his first mission with the army There s also Pero Villani an impoverished painter who manages to score a huge commission to paint the portrait of the Grand Khalif of Asharias but in truth his real purpose there is to spy for Seressa s Council of Twelve Pero is also not the only spy the Council has procured another is Leonora Valeri a noblewoman cast out by her family for becoming pregnant by a man from a lesser house After her father had her lover illed and the baby taken away Leonora agrees to be a spy in order to escape her family s clutches and leave her old life behind Passage has been arranged for her and Pero on a ship captained by the brave Drago Ostaja and owned by the family of Marin Djivo As the son of a prominent merchant from Dubrava Marin is no stranger to the dangers on the high seas but his life is forever changed when his ship is boarded by a band of pirates Among them is the Senjan archer Danica and thus our web of characters is completeA prevalent theme in many of Kay s books is how history and people their actions their decisions their fates are all related A single individual can shape the life of another a world away based on how the ripples caused by events both large and small will flow through time Children of Earth and Sky illustrates these patterns by following its characters in the moment but the narrative will also freuently take a step back to look at the full picture The author did something very similar in his last book River of Stars in which he explored a person s life from multiple angles going backwards and forwards in time to show how even the smallest gesture can have significant repercussions throughout history and affect multiple generations to come If you re not familiar with his work brace yourself for a lot of point of view changes present to past tense switching and skips all over the timelineThis makes it pretty much impossible to rush through any book by Guy Gavriel Kay I ve said this before but his work is meant to be savored slowly though sometimes that is by necessity and not by choice Personally it took me three days just to read the first one hundred pages but only three to finish the rest of this novel I find that s usually par for the course when it comes to Kay s books since the incredible amount of detail in his world building often reuires a rather long adjustment period Still there were a few issues that made Children of Earth and Sky a little difficult to get into First are the many distracting instances of info dumping which I admit I was surprised to find since Kay is usually a lot discreet when it comes to filling in the political or historical background Second there were some pacing problems playing havoc with the flow especially when it came to character POV imbalance It bothered me how some characters would feature prominently for a while and then just disappear for a long time until all of a sudden they would come back pushing aside others to fade into the background and then the cycle will begin again Because of the format at times you also had to read about the same event two or three times as multiple characters would describe it from their perspectivesAs I m fond of saying some authors are simply incapable of writing a bad book just that some of them may be better than others Guy Gavriel Kay is one of these authors and it s not that I disliked Children of Earth and Sky but I also don t think it was his best Still despite the rough start I ended up really enjoying this book Plus it s hard to be disappointed given the beautiful way the author writes If there s a lack of poetry or subtlety in this compared to some of his other works then he than makes up for it with the heightened tensions in this fantastical world of war and intrigue My early review is up at BN and here s the link Shorter review though Wonderful That was what I wanted and hoped for from him for years You guys Sit back and love I m just going to have to place Guy Gavriel Kay s books into a shelf of their own A genre of their own I mean sure there are certain authors that have come close such as some of Umberto Eco or Kim Stanley Robinson but Kay s writing just plops us down into what by all apparent as A leisurely beautiful almost sort of fantasy set in Kay s alternate historical world Longtime readers will recognize references here to events and characters featured in uite a few of his other booksThe time period here is the I believe fifteenth century and the action moves between recognizable versions of Croatia Venice and ConstantinopleDanica Gradek is a young woman whose surviving family was forced to relocate after being attacked by raiders who idnapped her beloved young brother She is now from Senjan an island Silver Stirrups (Saddle Club, known for depending on whom you ask its vicious pirates or its brave warriors who defend the borders and the Jaddite faith of the empire The location is based on Croatia s Senj and the peoplenown as the Uskoks Although it is uncommon Danica is a warrior she excels at archery and her dream is to avenge her brother by Different Class killing Osmanli Ottomans who stole him and destroyed her homeHowever we soon learn the bulk of the Osmanli raiders are actuallyidnapped children At a young age they are trained by their captors in a new faith and the ways of war Their loyalties are often transferred utterly and they are even grateful to the Osmanli for showing them the way to the true faith and salvation The reader soon suspects what might ve happened to Danica s brotherMeanwhile in the Republic of Seressa a young artist is picked for a dangerous job The Osmanli Khalif has commissioned a portrait to be done in the Western style Pero Villani has little to lose and much to gain if he makes it back from his trip alive The getting back alive part may be complicated by the fact that Seressa in addition to hiring him for his artistic skills also expects him to act as a spy and possibly an assassinAlso recruited to spy for Seressa is Leonora Valeri After she bore an illegitimate child her father murdered her lover and incarcerated her in a convent She s willing to agree to just about anything to gain a degree of freedom even a false marriage and a dangerous missionAnd then there s Marin Djivo The merchant is hoping to take over his father s lucrative business managing ships caravans and running trade goods between people who if not actively at war enjoy a peace that s fragile and uneasy at best Raiders on land and pirates at sea are an unavoidable hazard in this line of workNaturally all of these individuals and many will intersect along the way Seemingly small actions will have conseuences that reverberate in time and space The past affects the living uite literally the fantasy element in this book is a ghost which can communicate with his grandchildren and choices made now impact others lives and future livesThe book has plenty of adventure and action but somehow the overall experience is contemplative than exciting At times it works beautifully but at times I also wished for just a bit compelling forward motion and plot tension Still Guy Gavriel Kay remains one of my very favorite writers and this is not one of the least of his accomplishments Highly recommended. D 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 Short Stories by Roald Dahl khalif to win glory in the war everyonenows is coming   As these lives entwine their fates and those of many others will hang in the balance when the halif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western worl.

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I m not sure I can summarize this book it features a large cast occupying several different countriescity states and dealing with story lines which at first seem almost entirely unconnected to one another All I can say is it was a great read I blame this book for the reading slump which has haunted me through most of July It was such a great mix of action the ind that makes it really hard to put a book down at any point and fascinating characters whose emotional struggles also made for no good point to leave off reading I loved living in this world and being with these people This is one of those books that didn t feel long at all because it was just so good I could happily have spent another two weeks reading it And I was very very sorry to finish it My only nitpicks are First what exactly is the definition of fantasy This story has no magic nor is it set in a world significantly different from our own It s alternative historical fantasy which takes elements of our familiar world in this case parts of Europe and the Middle East places them on a similar but tilted map and turns the time to a sort of fourteenth century feel In his note at the back of the book GGK calls his books historical fiction with a twist which I guess sums it up Second since this was set in a European type world most of the characters are white and that got me wondering if you re going to come up with an alt Earth why not be a little creative with the human diversity while you re at it All the familiar Europe type places and people felt just a bit bog standard to me But that was really the only thing that dulled my enjoyment of this book so the five stars stand Highly recommended This was going to be 35 stars but I liked the ending so it scrapes a 4 I like Guy Gavriel Kay I do but I find his books misleading They are not really fantasy at all I ve read Guy Gavriel Kay before and didn t really enjoy his novels but the cover on this one was so beautiful and the blurb so interesting I decided to give him another chance and pick this one upI am so glad I didChildren of Earth and Sky has a number of characters switching viewpoints every few pages Some of them are Danica Gradek a warrior who lost her family in a raid and wants nothing than revenge Pero Villani a young artist who is selected to paint a portrait of a man named The Destroyer and report back to the council Leonora Valeri a woman being given a second chance at life by being sent to spy as a Doctor s wife Damaz a soldier in training Marin Djivo a rich merchant s sonBy no means is this an extensive list Despite the large cast of characters and world that Kay has created I didn t get overwhelmed by the information dump as he does a great job of gradually feeding you information with each new character It uickly grabbed my attention and ept it as each character revealed their story It is a mistake to think that drama is steady continuous even in tumultuous times Most often there are lulls and lacunae in the life of a person or a state There is apparent stability order an illusion of calm and then circumstances can change at speedIt is a beautiful blend of history and fantasy with themes sprinkled throughout While the foreshadowing became a bit much after a while I mostly enjoyed the writing Eternity is too long for us It is not a scale for men and women We live by different smaller measures but there are the stories we tellI highly recommend this bookCross posted at Kaora s Corner Review first posted on Fantasy LiteratureI adored Children of Earth and Sky What an amazing complex novel this is Highly recommended for any thoughtful reader of history or fantasyGuy Gavriel Kay writes what he likes to call history with a uarter turn to the fantastic and Children of Earth and Sky is definitely that It s also compelling reading epic in scope but also closely personal It s set in a Renaissance era analog of our world Serassa is Venice the Ottoman Empire is the Osmanli Empire the Jaddites are the Christians and so on There s just a little bit of fantasy spicing it up two blue and white moons appear in the skies of this world and the spirits of dead relatives can linger and enter the heads of their living descendants speaking with them and advising themIn addition to altered country and empire names Kay has shifted around some historical people and events to fit the story he wants to tell and inserted a host of fictional characters Kay weaves together the lives of several fascinating individuals moving in different parts of this world but impacting each other s lives Some of the most memorable Danica a young woman and a fierce warrior fighting against the constraints of her time as well as against enemies her brother Neven idnapped as a young child by Osmanlis and trained to be their devoted soldier Pero an artist with a commission to paint the Osmanli halif and a secret commission to assassinate him and Leonora a disgraced young woman of Seressa s upper class given a chance to redeem herself by spying on Dubrava who finds an unexpectedly significant new lifeKay freuently jumps from one character s point of view to another s as their individual stories weave together separate and intertwine again Often when books are divided into several different plotlines told concurrently in alternating scenes and chapters my interest is primarily focused in on one character and their storyline and I become impatient when the author temporarily shifts to another point of view But Kay made all of these characters and their stories absorbing to me More I legitimately cared about what happened to all of them even when they were at odds with each other Occasionally there was an odd repetition of a scene when the viewpoint shifted from one character in that scene to another but overall Kay handled the omniscient narration and changing viewpoints seamlessly inserting an occasional perceptive observationHe was never in Senjan again How can we ever presume to now what will come of our choices our paths the lives we liveHistory does not proceed with anything like fairness or recognition of valour or virtue Senjan was gone the walls broken and smashed on both the harbor and the landward sides less than a hundred years after this timeThe richness and complexity of the world of Children of Earth and Sky is remarkable the so because it is made so accessible by Kay s clarity of prose insight and sympathy for the lives of individuals caught in the relentless currents of war politics and societal constraints In the midst of frustration fear and death they create meaningful lives and form lifelong relationships I ll end with a comment from Kay in the afterword which encapsulates one of the themes of Children of Earth and SkyWe live among mysteries Love is one there are others We must not imagine we understand all there is to I Look Up To... Michelle Obama know about the world I received a free ebook from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a review Thank youContent advisory Occasional R rated language violence and brief but explicit sexual scenes There is a sanctuary in Rhodias where a long forgotten artist depicted two empresses facing each other one a whore one a barbarian a thousand years ago sobs uietly blows nose on bookmarkAt a certain point in the first twenty pages of every Kay novel you start to think There are too many characters and I don tnow any of them and what is going on But patience is indeed a virtue with Kay s novels He is uite frankly my favorite living novelist and a lovely person in real life and his worst book would make other authors weep with envy Because every word every line every scene every character is important Every passing farmer has a role to play not because they suddenly drop their hoes and turn into heroes but just because they. 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 veng.

Are farmers in that time and that place Every one of Kay s books is a tapestry each thread dull or bright short or long as a part to play in the whole Each Doctor Extraño kindness or cruelty death or life is a vital piece Someone passes a farm they ask for water and end up staying a year working the land Is it important It is to that farm that had an extra pair of hands It is to the traveler who learnedindness and a new language in return And because of the way Kay has written it it s important to the reader as well There are battles There are political plots Lovers Spies Nobles Warriors Artists But battles and assassinations aren t always what moves the world Sometimes it s the decision of one man or woman Words spoken or not spoken A portrait painted of the wrong person A message dropped in the street Kay highlights these things and makes you look at the world through new sharper eyes until by the end of the book you re holding your breath over every gesture made and phrase spoken and you ve already cried over the deaths of people who on page 20 you didn t even now I cannot think of another author who writes such layers such nuance and with such an eye for the beauty in every day life He is to uote the great philosopher Lola My favorite and my best Chance and change are the way of the world and so for those living on disputed borders or venturing to sea The struggle between holding on to a piece of land for shelter and survival and raising our eyes to the stars in search of the meaning of life was never poignant and bittersweet as in this latest offering from Guy Gavriel Kay a master of the lyrical prose and of the heroic evocation of lost civilizations After a couple of novels set in ancient China Kay returns to his alternate universe based on European history and focuses on the turbulent decades following the fall of Constantinople nown in this setting as Sarantium Sailing to Sarantium is my all time favorite in a long list of Kay novels that I read in the past and I was looking forward to a return to the city s magical and history infused streets especially after a couple of recent visits to present day Istanbul still a fascinating and colourful metropolis Children of Earth and Sky hits all the right notes and recalls everything I love about Guy Gavriel Kay s style yet I cannot honestly place it among my favorites It may be a case of being distracted by work or of the action being placed too close to my own home the Balkans but I couldn t get immersed in the story to the same degree I did with previous books by the author Little personal annoyances in the transcription of local dialect and some liberties taken with the historical facts Never Tell kept coming back to put me in a critical frame of mind than usualAnother aspect of the novel that sets it apart from the bulk of Kay s oeuvre is what I perceive as a shift of focus from the personal journey of an artist still the backbone of the tale here in the uest of Pero Villani to a much complex and ambitious weave that takes in politics economics warfare and religion from six or seven separateingdoms settlements I might go so far as to claim the present novel in its epic scope it Kay s own attempt to emulate the Game of Thrones On the playing board we go from the court of the Holy Emperor of Jad in Obravic Prague to the Duke Palace in Seressa Venice by way of the High Patriarch in Rhodias Rome Crossing the sea we fight with the pirateheroes of Senjan the Uskoks of Senj trade with the merchants from Dubrava Dubrovnik and fight against the Asharites Ottomans alongside the rebel leader Skandir Skanderbeg before reaching the triple walls of Sarantium now renamed Asharias by its new ruler Khalif Gurcu Great Sultan Mehmet the ConuerorAgainst this dark background of the demise of an ancient culture the rise of ambitious new Feminism is for Everybody kingdoms and the destruction of large swaths of land by mercenary armies Kay places a small group of ordinary people who will rise to the challenge of their times and pass on the torch of civilization art commerce loveindness to future generations Leading the cast at least in my opinion is the young painter from Seressa named Pero Villani based on Gentile Bellini who is sent by his duke to the court of Gurcu the Conueror to paint his portrait in the Western style Pero is the latest incarnation of a recurrent type of hero in Kay s universe the artist who must reconcile living in the present with living in the rarefied air of spiritual enlightenment On the road Pero will come across some of the mosaics left behind by Crispin from an earlier novel reinforcing this sense of continuity of purpose through the centuries Sailing to Sarantium was the ancient phrase One of his friends had uoted it last night raising a cup There was a new sorrow that came with the words since there was no Sarantium any It used to mean that someone was changing his life embarking on something new transforming like a figure in a classical painting or mosaic becoming something else On his journey both geographical and emotional Pero Vilanni crosses paths with the other Deterring Democracy key characters in the epic a young girl from the fortress town of Senjan named Danica Gradek a mysterious woman sent by Seressa to spy on the town of Dubrava named Leonora Valeri and the younger son of a merchant family from Dubrava named Marin Djivo Without spoiling the dramatic events of the journey and the final destination of each of the major players these people will experience their own spiritual emancipation on the road to Sarantium chance and change ruling their fate as they do for all of us under heaven to paraphrase some from the other works of the authorI am in awe at the way Kay managed to bring together all these separate threads and to flesh out numerous side characters that play a crucial part in the developing conflict yet I cannot help making a couple of critical observations notes that are highly subjective and probably will get toned down on an eventual re read Firstly I would say that it s not always good when an author gets over enthusiastic about some of his subjects I m referring here to the treatment of the Senjani pirates who are referred to right from the start as heroes It got so heavy handed by the end that I actually cheered for the other side when view spoiler their expeditionary force into Asharite territory finally got wiped out by the Janissaries hide spoiler 35 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum time Guy Gavriel Kay releases a new novel is a cause for celebration Even with the understanding of how much work and time must go into each and every one of them the waiting never gets easier Known for his talent for recreating famous historical periods using fantasy Kay s books are all gorgeously written and painstakingly researched works of art often infused with powerful messages and themes I d been looking forward to Children of Earth and Sky ever since it was announced and was beyond excited to finally get my hands on itLike many of his stories that feature fictional analogs of real places in history this novel is said to be inspired by the conflicts and intrigues of Renaissance Europe It is apparently set in the same universe as Lions of Al Rassan if I recall the names of the religions and the world s twin moons correctly though readers whonow their history will probably recognize elements from the fifteenth to sixteenth century eras right away For instance the Ottoman Empire has been reimagined as the Osmanli Empire and the most Serene Republic of Venice or la Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia has become the Republic of Seressa Using this vibrant setting as a backdrop Kay chronicles the lives of a disparate group of characters whose fates are all interwoven and connected like the threads of a tapestryThere are about half. Eance 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 halif at his reuest and possibly to do 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 accomplishe.

Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy though the author himself has expressed a preference to shy away from genre categoriz