Tag: Books: Canadian Literature

Review: Lord of Emperors

Posted 23 June, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Lord of Emperors (The Sarantine Mosaic, #2)
By: Guy Gavriel Kay
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

In the golden city of Sarantium, the renowned mosaicist Crispin seeks to fulfill his artistic ambitions and his destiny high upon a dome intended to be the emperor’s enduring sanctuary and legacy.

But the beauty and solitude of his work cannot protect him from the dangerous intrigues of a court and cit that swirl with rumors of war and conspiracy, while otherworldly fires mysteriously flicker and disappear in the streets at night. The emperor is plotting a conquest of Crispin’s homeland to regain an empire, and because Crispin’s fate is entwined with that of his royal benefactor, his loyalties come at a very high price.

And another voyager has arrived in the imperial city: Rustem of Kerakek, a physician from an eastern desert kingdom who is determined to find his own fate amid the shifting, treacherous currents of passion and violence that define Sarantium.

And here we are, book two of The Sarantine Mosaic. Sailing to Sarantium (review) was okay but I wasn’t terribly invested in the story and the characters as I thought I would’ve been. As I mentioned in that review, I was planning on taking a break from his works, but I wanted to at least finish The Sarantine Mosaic before doing so (and while I at least remembered roughly what happened in the first book and who the characters were).

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Review: Sailing to Sarantium

Posted 22 June, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Sailing to Sarantium (The Sarantine Mosaic, #1)
By: Guy Gavriel Kay
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

The first part of The Sarantine Mosaic, Kay’s sweeping tale of politics, intrigue and adventure inspired by ancient Byzantium.

Rumored to be responsible for the ascension of the previous Emperor, his uncle, amid fire and blood, Valerius the Trakesian has himself now risen to the Golden Throne of the vast empire ruled by the fabled city, Sarantium. Valerius has a vision to match his ambition: a glittering dome that will proclaim his magnificence down through the ages. And so, in a ruined western city on the far distant edge of civilization, a not-so-humble artisan receives a call that will change his life forever. Crispin is a mosaicist, a layer of bright tiles. Still grieving for the family he lost to the plague, he lives only for his arcane craft, and cares little for ambition, less for money, and for intrigue not at all. But an imperial summons to the most magnificent city in the world is a difficult call to resist. In this world still half-wild and tangled with magic, no journey is simple; and a journey to Sarantium means a walk into destiny. Bearing with him a deadly secret, and a Queen’s seductive promise; guarded only by his own wits and a bird soul talisman from an alchemist’s treasury, Crispin sets out for the fabled city from which none return unaltered.

Up next on my Guy Gavriel Kay reading pile is Sailing to Sarantium. So far my experience reading his other books has been pretty mixed: I enjoyed The Lions of Al-Rassan (review) but found The Last Light of the Sun (review) rather boring. As this is based off Byzantine history and culture, I’m hoping this book will tip the scales back 🙂

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Review: The Last Light of the Sun

Posted 17 June, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Last Light of the Sun
By: Guy Gavriel Kay
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

There is nothing soft or silken about the north. The lives of men and women are as challenging as the climate and lands in which they dwell. For generations, the Erlings of Vinmark have taken their dragon-prowed ships across the seas, raiding the lands of the Cyngael and Anglcyn peoples, leaving fire and death behind. But times change, even in the north, and in a tale woven with consummate artistry, people of all three cultures find the threads of their lives unexpectedly brought together…Bern Thorkellson, punished for his father’s sins, commits an act of vengeance and desperation that brings him face-to-face, across the sea, with a past he’s been trying to leave behind. In the Anglcyn lands of King Aeldred, the shrewd king, battling inner demons all the while, shores up his defenses with alliances and diplomacy-and with swords and arrows-while his exceptional, unpredictable sons and daughters pursue their own desires when battle comes and darkness falls in the woods. And in the valleys and shrouded hills of the Cyngael, whose voices carry music even as they feud and raid amongst each other, violence and love become deeply interwoven when the dragon ships come and Alun ab Owyn, chasing an enemy in the night, glimpses strange lights gleaming above forest pools.

Alrighty, next up in my reading of Guy Gavriel Kay’s books on my TBR pile is The Last Light of the Sun. I honestly picked it up because it is the shorter of the four books on my to-read list.

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Review: The Lions of Al-Rassan

Posted 16 June, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Lions of Al-Rassan
By: Guy Gavriel Kay
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

The ruling Asharites of Al-Rassan have come from the desert sands, but over centuries, seduced by the sensuous pleasures of their new land, their stern piety has eroded. The Asharite empire has splintered into decadent city-states led by warring petty kings. King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendancy, aided always by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan — poet, diplomat, soldier — until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.

Meanwhile, in the north, the conquered Jaddites’ most celebrated — and feared — military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, driven into exile, leads his mercenary company south.

In the dangerous lands of Al-Rassan, these two men from different worlds meet and serve — for a time — the same master. Sharing their interwoven fate — and increasingly torn by her feelings — is Jehane, the accomplished court physician, whose own skills play an increasing role as Al-Rassan is swept to the brink of holy war, and beyond.

Hauntingly evocative of medieval Spain, The Lions of Al-Rassan is both a brilliant adventure and a deeply compelling story of love, divided loyalties, and what happens to men and women when hardening beliefs begin to remake — or destroy — a world.

Guy Gavriel Kay is a well-known author in the fantasy genre (and Canadian too, whoo-hoo!). I had started reading his books sometime in grad school (drats that I never reviewed Ysabel or Tigana (especially the latter as it was very interesting and right up my alley in my studies)) but sort of never got back to reading his other books. So yeah, I sort of made it a point to get around to reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s books this year; I bought most of his books a few years ago but they’ve sort of sat on my TBR pile ever since. Oops. But anyway, here I am, first book to read from that pile is The Lios of Al-Rassan, which looks and sounds really cool.

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Review: Family Furnishings

Posted 14 April, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995 – 2014
By: Alice Munro
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Here is a selection of Munro’s most accomplished and powerfully affecting short fiction from the last two decades, a companion volume to A Wilderness Station: Selected Stories, 1968–1994. These stories encompass the fullness of human experience, from the wild exhilaration of first love (in “Passion”) to the punishing consequences of leaving home (“Runaway”) or ending a marriage (“The Children Stay”). And in stories that Munro has described as “closer to the truth than usual”—”Dear Life,” “Working for a Living,” and “Home”—we glimpse the author’s own life.

Subtly honed with her hallmark precision, grace, and compassion, these stories illuminate the quotidian yet astonishing particularities in the lives of men and women, parents and children, friends and lovers as they discover sex, fall in love, part, quarrel, suffer defeat, set off into the unknown, or find a way to be in the world.

I’ve been excited about this book ever since its publication was announced last year. Like the book blurb mentions, it’s the perfect companion to her first selected stories compilation (review) and while I have read a few of her short story collections in the last few years, I know there are plenty other books and stories of hers that I have yet t read.

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