Children of Earth and Sky is a Ebook Full review first posted on Fantasy Literature I read Children of Earth and Sky several months ago and adored it I should have written my review th
Children of Earth and Sky is a Ebook Full review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:I read Children of Earth and Sky several months ago and adored it. I should have written my review then, but Bill’s eloquent and supremely insightful review proved so intimidating that I allowed this to slip to the back burner, to my shame. But I’m finally writing this review, if only to remind everyone of what an amazing novel this is, and what a delightful Christmas present it would make for any thoughtful reader of history or fantasy.Guy Gavriel Kay writes what he likes to call “history with a quarter 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 them.In 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, kidnapped as a young child by Osmanlis and trained to be their devoted soldier; Pero, an artist with a commission to paint the Osmanli khalif 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 life.Kay frequently 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 observation:He was never in Senjan again. How can we ever presume to know what will come of our choices, our paths, the lives we live?History 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 time.The richness and complexity of the world of Children of Earth and Sky is remarkable, the more 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 Sky:We live among mysteries. Love is one, there are others. We must not imagine we understand all there is to know about the world.I received a free ebook from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a review. Thank you!!Content advisory: Occasional R-rated language, violence, and brief but explicit sexual scenes.. 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 forThe 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 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. A viral Books Children of Earth and Sky 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 quite a few of his other books.The time period here is the (I believe) fifteenth century, and the action moves between recognizable versions of Croatia, Venice and Constantinople.Danica Gradek is a young woman whose surviving family was forced to relocate after being attacked by raiders who kidnapped her beloved young brother. She is now from Senjan, an island 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 people known as the Uskoks - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senj.) Although it is uncommon, Danica is a warrior - she excels at archery, and her dream is to avenge her brother by killing Osmanli (Ottomans) who stole him and destroyed her home.However, we soon learn, the bulk of the Osmanli raiders are actually kidnapped 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 brother.Meanwhile, 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 assassin.Also 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 mission.And 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 work.Naturally, all of these individuals (and many more) will intersect along the way. Seemingly small actions will have consequences that reverberate in time and space. The past affects the living (quite 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 lives.The book has plenty of adventure and action - but somehow the overall experience is more contemplative than exciting. At times it works beautifully, but at times I also wished for just a bit more 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.