Saturday, February 11, 2017

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay (review)

Children of Earth and Sky
by Guy Gavriel Kay

Blurb:  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...


My review:

5 out of 5 stars

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay follows a disparate group of people who become ensnared in the machinations of the rulers of their various sections of the world. A young girl who is driven by her thirst for vengeance, a woman who has been sequestered by her family in disgrace, an artist searching for fame and fortune, the younger son of a prominent merchant family, and several others, all discover that attempts to make them instruments in a power struggle have unexpected costs and benefits that will either elevate them beyond their wildest dreams or cut their lives short, depending on their choices.

This epic fantasy tale is one of those books I am really reluctant to pick up because I know it’s going to take some effort to work my way through it. The sheer cast of characters is always daunting to me, because I have to learn how they are connected, and then throw in all of the political maneuverings and history between the different factions, and my head starts feeling overcrowded. In other words, I know it’s going to be a challenge. But wow, it’s worth it.

I’ve read other series by this talented wordsmith and I am always mesmerized by the delicate threads that are laid down encompassing action in geographically separate areas that nonetheless start coalescing into a wondrous tapestry with characters that become so real that I start rooting for them and mourning them when they are struck down. The vivid scenarios and harsh lifestyles that are depicted in this story aptly reflect the historical cultures that underlie some of the events in this tale. One should be warned that there is a fair amount of violence that accompanies the various struggles, but there are also inspiring tales of courage and feats that show the strength, mental and physical, of the players in this giant chess game of dominance and commerce.

I adore strong female characters and enjoyed the various maneuvers and feats that several of the women excelled at, even as I ached at the crucibles that they underwent. The third person omniscient voice allows the reader to get insight that would otherwise be cumbersome to attain, and the tinge of mysticism combined with the battles both in the field and closer to home keep one enthralled. This was another fantastic tale that kept me ensnared for far too long but it was well worth the lost sleep. I am pleased that many of the characters’ journeys are told to completion and although I was sad that the book finally came to an end, I was also satisfied when I was finished. An excellent addition to the genre.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review, a version of which was submitted to Night Owl Reviews.

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