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Children of Earth and Sky by [Kay, Guy Gavriel]
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Children of Earth and Sky Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 593 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Guy Gavriel Kay, bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, once again visits a world that evokes one that existed in our own past, this time the tumultuous period of Renaissance Europe-a world on the verge of war, where ordinary lives play out in the grand scheme of kingdoms colliding.

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 beautiful oman, posing as a doctor's wife in her role of a spy.

The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the clever younger son of a merchant family -with ambivalence 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...

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3688 KB
  • Print Length: 593 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (12 May 2016)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0117867EQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,977 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a terrific read and I loved the fact it was set in the Renaissance period, one of my favorite historical periods. The world is beautifully imagined with numerous characters, both political and regular citizenry - military and religious leaders, priestesses, farmers, and many, many more. Because of the number of characters, it required a bit more concentration to keep track of them, and I did not bond well with any of them, but the storytelling and plot overshadowed this fact to make the book well worth reading. The author's writing is flowing and easy to fall into, seamlessly moving from one scene to another. The plot brought out my emotions as I read - shock, sadness, anger. The story is definitely plot driven rather than character driven, with plenty of action and twists. This was the first book by this author that I have read, and I definitely am interested in reading more. Definitely recommended for fantasy lovers.

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, [...], where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit [...]
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Beautifully imagined and written. An extraordinary book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.5 out of 5 stars 146 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Work by a Masterful Writer 24 May 2016
By Andrew - Published on
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Children of Earth and Sky is a book written by a craftsman who has reached a new peak in the mastery of his craft.

Guy Gavriel Kay writes, primarily, books based on fictionalized versions of carefully researched historical periods. He tells personal stories of people involved with monumental changes. His stories are often sweet, or more often bittersweet, and only have a touch of the supernatural.

Kay has been doing this for decades. The books he was writing 20 years ago were very good. You should read them. But he keeps getting better and better. His craft is now honed to the point of mastery, and Children of Earth and Sky is excellent.

The book picks up several decades after the events of Sailing to Sarantium (Sarantine Mosaic, Book 1) and Lord of Emperors: Book Two of the Sarantine Mosaic (Sarantine Mosaic (Paperback)). You certainly won't be lost if you jump straight into Children of Earth and Sky, but there are some treats in this book you might miss out on.

The world of the book draws, historically, from the Roman empire several decades after the fall of Constantinople, the city-states of Venice and Dubrovnik, and the Uskoks and their stronghold city of Senj. Building on historical events gives Kay a more richly imagined world than even fantasy's most celebrated world-builders. It also gives him the ability to focus on characters with a depth and understanding that's too often absent in this genre.

If you're a Kay fan already, you know this. And all you need to know about Children of Earth and Sky is that it's quite likely Kay's best work yet. On par with the craft on display in River of Stars and Under Heaven, in a more familiar (and I suspect for many fans more loved) setting. If you're not a Kay fan, this is a wonderful place to start. With the fair warning that once you're done, you'll likely be hooked and want to go backwards and read everything the man's even written.
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different narrative approach results in Kay's best work in years 11 May 2016
By Indy Reviewer - Published on
It's not a simple process to describe the main plot of Guy Gavriel Kay’s “Children of Earth and Sky." Perhaps the best way to do so is that a number of characters try to live out their lives while negotiating treacherous political and social terrain 25 years after the fall of Kay’s alternate universe Constantinople, Sarantium, to his version of the Ottoman Turks, the Osmanlis. What is far less complicated is to praise the resulting effort as Kay’s best in years and one of the better character driven stories of any genre in recent memory. 5 stars.

Since he began writing alternate history a 'quarter turn to the fantastic’ and quarter century ago, Kay’s narrative approach has followed a traditional path: a main character or group discover they have a specific goal and must fight to achieve it, often against the currents of history on their journey. Children of Earth and Sky is different. While there's a common background thread - Osmanli subjugation and fear of their inevitable conquering march towards the gates of Vienna - the interests and threads of the diverse group of individuals that Kay introduces here repeatedly coalesce and diverge, often without seeming connections.

Plenty of writers have attempted a similar scattershot plot approach to ensemble driven novels, but very few have succeeded. Kay does so likely because of his fondness for deep character development – it’s been said Kay has never met a secondary character he hasn’t liked - and his deep research into the underlying history that forms his alternate universe Venice, Balkans, and the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires. The author has acknowledged a deliberate focus on the stories of the ordinary people of these times trying to get on with their lives in the midst of this chaos, so the protagonists are neither heirs to thrones nor brilliant generals. However, the unique skill sets of the talented but common folk he weaves in and out prove applicably powerful at appropriately large moments and inflection points. Their 'ripples', as Kay calls it, into the river of history produce consequences for their actions that neither his characters nor the readers see coming. Combine that with Kay's particularly skilled writing, and this is one of the tiny handful of books in which the lack of a traditional narrative works.

This isn't to say that the structure doesn't have its flaws, some serious. Children of Earth and Sky does start slow; the first fifth of the book is spent introducing most the various players, and it isn’t until the second fifth is concluded that the various main plots begin in earnest. Several threads go absolutely nowhere, including a prominent one introduced very early that ultimately provides nothing more than background enrichment. Finally, for some reason Kay expands from his occasional foray into competently crafted erotica into a larger number of scenes that may make some readers uncomfortable.

If readers have patience, the payoff for all of this is spectacular. An often-slow moving plot that deals with the stubbornness of the revenge-seeking Balkan Senjans creating diplomatic headaches for three other powers produces dramatic effects down the road, and a planned trip to Asharias (the conquered Sarantium) provides significant unintended consequences. Suffice it to say that the ending here is among Kay's best in many, many years.

However, this does bring up an important point. While some of Kay's novels can be enriched by reading others set in his universe, it's not been a prerequisite. Children of Earth and Sky can certainly be read as a standalone, but there are so many echoes (and in one plot line, outright mirroring) from the Sarantine Mosaic that those two predecessors are essentially required despite taking place a thousand years earlier. Without them, the payoffs from the conclusion aren't quite as dramatic, and given that makes the structure of the book work, it's important. They should be read first if at all possible, and many readers will also find The Lions of Al-Rassan, in which Kay establishes the religious structure of his world, quite helpful.

If all this seems a bit vague, a clearer way to put it is that it’s Kay’s best book in a while despite its unusual approach, and from this author, that’s saying something. 5 stars.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just OK 27 May 2016
By Joyce Eriksen - Published on
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sorry to say this book does not rise to the level of Kay's best. Compared to Tigana and Under Heaven it is not in the same league. We are not allowed to know the characters enough to feel much for them. The history is fun and I really like the ongoing religions and other details used in several of his earlier books. Unfortunately a book needs both plot AND characters and this one is heavy on the former and light on the latter. Give me another Under Heaven with well honed people I really knew or Tigana with just as many stories but very much more character growth.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy by a master storyteller 12 June 2016
By Mary Soon Lee - Published on
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This is a wonderful fantasy novel, rooted in history but set in a world of Guy Gavriel Kay's imagining; a world with two moons, with heroism and honor, brutality and grief and love. It is beautifully, consciously told by a master storyteller. At times it brought me close to tears. The narrative switches between multiple points of view, and, a rarity, my attention was held by each of them. In addition to seeing rulers, military commanders, and senior advisors, we are also shown merchants, footsoldiers, farmers, brigands, sea captains, painters, spies, priestesses. Some of the characters are close to epic heroes (and heroines), being brave and highly skilled warriors. Yet there is a depth in the characters and a compassion toward them that makes them resonate. An excellent book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 17 May 2016
By Kerry Kilburn - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Guy Gavriel Kay has written my 5 favorite books of all time (The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, The Lions of Al-Rassan, and A Song for Arbonne). I didn't care for his last two, and was so excited when I found out that this book would see him return to a European Renaissance setting. Sadly, my excitement quickly waned as I began reading the book. I found the characters to be poorly developed, with little of Kay's usual attention to letting us live inside each character as each character, in turn, lives through the events of the book - events that shape change each character along the way. With this book, with a couple of exceptions, I felt that the characters changed little, if at all, over the course of the book, and that I never got to know them well enough to care deeply about them. A major change from so many of his other books.

Although the prose was as excellent as ever, the text overall didn't flow as well for me as it has in his other books. Part of that is because of his decision to write Marin's voice in the present tense, but part of it is because of the way he interrupts the main narrative from time to time to tell us about the future course of a minor character. And I think part of it is an inevitable consequence of trying to weave together the stories of so many characters whose lives stay quite separate for much of the book.

I know I am in the minority in giving this book less than a glowing review. This book may be an excellent one compared to others out there on the market. But compared to Kay's own work, I think it falls short of the mark.

Three stars for a pleasant read, but not a book I will reread every year the way I do most of his other books.

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