Bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay’s previous two books were fantasy-tinged sweeping works of historical fiction set within the Tang dynasty of 8th century China. In his latest novel, Children of Earth and Sky, he returns to his alternate quasi-medieval Europe that readers have come to know in his Sarantine Mosaic duology and The Lions of Al-Rassan.
Kay throws the reader right into the story by introducing them to the main characters as seen through their eyes. There is Marin Djivo, a merchant in an important family; Lenora Valeri, a disgraced woman who had a child out of wedlock is now a spy; Pero Villani, a talented painter who is being sent to do a portrait of the great Khalif and possibly assassinate him. They are traveling on Marin’s vessel with goods he is bringing to Dubnrovnik to trade. On the way they run into a marauding ship of pirates who attack them. The doctor who is Lenora’s fake husband is killed, but the young pirate Danica Gradek volunteers to go with them to atone for the blatant murdering of the doctor by one of the pirates who Danica promptly killed; she can now never return to her home without fear of being attacked by the family of the pirate killed.
And so begins this traveling tale that has a feel of the Canterbury Tales, as the characters meet and interact with other characters, sometimes working together, sometimes going it alone. This is a story about dipping in and out of these people’s lives. There are deaths. There are rejoices. There is suffering. There is laughter. There is sex. Children of Earth and Sky is a living tale of Kay’s invented world as he brings his characters and stories to the reader’s eye and passes it into the reader’s mind in his own unique style. Guy Gavriel Kay’s work can never be called nor considered a fast read, but is itself a long and, at times, hard journey that by the end is so worthwhile and rewarding.
Originally written on May 14, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.
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