Children of Earth and Sky


Guy Gavriel Kay


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

December 15, 2019

ay has established a nice niche for himself. He places his fantasy stories in alternate Earth environments, where the geography and culture are similar to our own history, but then Kay changes the names and events to suit his tale. Kay is quite accomplished at this, all of his novels are worth reading, and some are excellent. My favorite Kay novels are the two book series Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors. Children of Earth and Sky is another success for Kay, he doesn't miss with this novel based in the Adriatic era. In it actually a loose sequel to the Sarantium Mosaic, Children of Earth and Sky is set a few years after the events related in the . It is the time when the city-state of Seressa (which is Venice, in our world) rules a vast trading empire. But the Asharias (the Ottomans) have finally conquered Sarantium (Constantinople) and now their armies push north and westward, threatening western civilization, called Jad worshippers.

The Children of Earth and Sky is a big book, and Kay has populated it with many characters. The main character in the novel is Danica, a young woman from Senjan, who is a warrior and raider, certainly an unconventional role for someone of her gender. But Danica is good with a knife and exceptional with a bow, and she joins the Senjan on pirating mission, out to capture wealthy Seressa vessels. Normally, a great power such as Seressa could just crush the small city-state of Senjan (modern day Croatia), but the Senjan are protected by the Emperor Rodolfo of Obravic. Seressa sends an ambassador to the court of Rodolfo, to see if there is a way the Emperor will lift his protection so Seressa can put Senjan to the sword. The duke of Seressa concocts a scheme to send spies out amongst his enemies. Thus, Leonora Valeri, a disgraced noble’s daughter, will pose as the wife of Doctor Jacopo while actually spying on Dubrava. The conviving duke also arranges for a talented, but obscure, artist named Pero Villani to travel to the Osmanli court of the Asharites to paint the portrait of the Grand Khalif (while also, of course, spying on him - and assassinating him if at all possible). The handsome merchant captain Marin Djivo is tasked with ferrying these spies to their destinations. It is Djivo's ship that the Senjan raiders and Danica board, and this encounter sets many of the plot threads in motion.

Also appearing in this novel is Danica's lost brother, Neven, - as a toddler, he was stolen away in a raid from the deadly Asharites (who killed the rest of Danica's family), but now Neven, (renamed Damaz) has been raised as a janissary, and now is a tough soldier rising up through the ranks of the Grand Khalif's army. Danica's father also appears in this novel, even though he is dead. There isn't much magic in this novel, but Kay does show glimpses of supernatural stuff, such as having ghosts talk to the living.

Despite all the characters and plot threads, I never lost track of who was who, Kay is good at keeping each storyline distinct.

I was surprised by the climatic battle as the Grand Khalif's army marches toward Vienna. A small volunteer force from Senjan march off to give aid to the Emperor Rodolfo, but none of the main characters from the story are part of that band. So the big climax of the novel actually has the main characters on the sidelines.

Overall, this is a great story, and I recommend it. It's nice to read a fantasy novel that isn't part of a trilogy, you can a complete self contained story in one book.