Cover image for Sailing to Sarantium
Title:
Sailing to Sarantium
Author:
Kay, Guy Gavriel.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperPrism, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
437 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780061051173
Format :
Book

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Material Type
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Status
Central Library X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Science Fiction/Fantasy
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Summary

Summary

Valerius the Trakesian has great ambition. Rumored to be responsible for the ascension of the previous Emperor, his uncle, amid fire and blood, Valerius himself has 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.

In the Aldwood he encounters a great beast from the mythic past, and in robbing the zubir of its prize he wins a woman's devotion and a man's loyalty--and loses a gift he didn't know he had until it was gone.

In Sarantium itself, where rival factions vie in the streets and palaces, and chariot racing is as sacred as prayer, Crispin will begin his life anew. In an empire ruled by intrigue and violence, he must find his own source of power. And he does: high on the scaffolding of the greatest art work ever imagined, while struggling to deal with the dangers--and the seductive lures--of the men and women around him.

Guy Gavriel Kay's magnificent historical fantasies draw from the twin springs of history and legend to create seamless worlds as vibrant as any in literature. Sailing to Sarantium begins The Sarantine Mosaic, a new and signal triumph by today's most esteemed master of high fantasy.

"To say of a man that he was Sailing to Sarantium was to say that his life was on the cusp of change, poised for emergent greatness, brilliance, fortune--or else at the very precipice of a final and absolute fall into chaos and ruin."


Author Notes

Guy Gavriel Kay was born on November 7, 1954 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada. He became interested in fantasy fiction while working as an assistant to Christopher Tolkien. He assisted him with the editing of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. After receiving a law degree from the University of Toronto, he became principal writer and associate producer for the CBC radio series, The Scales of Justice. He also wrote several episodes when the series moved to television. He has written social and political commentary for several publications including the National Post, The Globe and Mail, and The Guardian.

His first fantasy novels were The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, and The Darkest Road, which make up the Fionavar Tapestry Trilogy. His other works include A Song for Arbonne, The Lions of Al-Rassan, Beyond This Dark House, The Last Light of the Sun, and Under Heaven. He has received numerous awards including and the Aurora Award for Tigana and The Wandering Fire, the 2008 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel for Ysabel, and the International Goliardos Award for his work in the fantasy field.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The title page imparts that this is "Book One of the Sarantine Mosaic." Kay has embarked on yet another fantasy saga, set several centuries earlier in the same world as his masterpiece, The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995). The historically knowledgeable will recognize that Sarantium essentially equals Byzantium during the reign of Justinian and Theodora, who appear under other names, along with Belisarius, Procopius, Hagia Sophia, the Visigoths--the whole kit and caboodle. The protagonist is a mosaicist from Rhodius (Visigothic Rome) who travels to Sarantium to work on the Great Temple (i.e., Hagia Sophia) because he has lost his family in the plague and feels he has nothing more to lose should Sarantium change him. The characterization is up to Kay's usual high standard, and he has adapted real-world history so well for his world-building purposes that even those who know what he is borrowing will admire it. A good book that bodes very well for the series it inaugurates. --Roland Green


Publisher's Weekly Review

Heavy of character and light of plot, Kay's (The Lions of Al Rassan) new series opens with the heady scents of sex, horseflesh and power. In the Holy City of Sarantium, the wily, murderous new emperor, Valerius II, stiffs his soldiers of their pay in order to build a fabulous monument to immortalize his reign. To adorn his temple, he summons a renowned elder mosaicist, who entreats his brilliant, younger partner, Caius Crispus of Varena, to make the journey to Sarantium in his stead. Crispus, who lost his zest for life after his beloved wife and daughters died of the plague, makes the journey under protest. His besieged country's young queen forces him to carry a dangerous, private message to the emperor, the contents of which could cost him his life. En route to Sarantium, Crispus becomes involved with mystically souled mechanical birds created by the magician Zoticus; encounters an awe-inspiring pagan god; saves the life of a beautiful, enslaved prostitute; and demonstrates that decency brings out the best in hired workers. At his destination, he learns to trust his own instincts, especially where knife-wielding assassins and powerful women who use their sexuality as a weapon are concerned. Kay is at his best when describing the intertwining of art and religion or explicating the ancient craft of mosaic work. The slow pace of the novel and the sheer volume of its characters (if ever a book cried out for a listing of dramatis personae, this is it) are dismaying, however, and don't augur well for future installments in the series. Rights: Westwood Creative Artists. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Summoned to the court of the Emperor of Sarantium, Crispin, a mosaicist from faraway Varena, encounters a city filled with beauty and treachery beyond his wildest imaginations. Caught in a web of political intrigue and religious controversy, Crispin attempts to retain his artistic vision even as he lays to rest the ghosts of his embittered past. With consummate skill and a flair for leisurely storytelling, the author of The Lions of Al-Rassan (HarperCollins, 1995) begins a new series set in a fantasy version of the Byzantine Empire. This evocative tale of one man's rendezvous with his destiny is a priority purchase for fantasy collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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