Tuesday, May 01, 2018
Guy Gavriel Kay - Children of Earth and Sky
It took me a while to realise, that the obligatory map at the front is a lightly concealed plan of the eastern Mediterranean, and indeed the book is set mostly in what is now Croatia in the later medieval era. It deals with the clashes between city states of our Italy (principally a very thinly disguised Venice, called Seressa) and the Asharia empires to their east. While religious practice is completely different in Kay's world, the beliefs of the characters are analogous to Christian and Islam.
The characters are well rounded, believable and entertaining. I was particularly taken by Danica Gradek, a young woman archer who is determined to avenge her brother's kidnap by Asharia raiding parties. But the plot hinges on the mission of a young, and distinctly naive painter, Pero Villani, who is travelling from Seressa to paint the Grand Khalif of the Asharias in the western style.
The author sets things up well for a thrilling denouncement, but there are several thoroughly enjoyable subplots and story arcs, as well as some brilliant characters. The lightness of the fantasy makes this more an alternative history, and I am already looking forward to returning to the author's writing.