wilderthan: ((Fujin) Won't understand)
[personal profile] wilderthan
Rereading a book by Guy Gavriel Kay always makes me think my first review was inaccurate. I reviewed the two books of this duology together last time, which doesn't help. Sailing to Sarantium is "alternate history", based on the Byzantine empire. As usual, Guy Gavriel Kay's interests hit a period I know very little about, although obviously I understand the references to Rhodias/Rome, since I studied it.

The main character the story follows is Caius Crispin, a mosaicist. It seems a weird hero to have, when other characters in the story are kings, queens, emperors, charioteers... a lot of characters with seemingly much more interesting roles to play. But Crispin can observe, can step back for a moment, and also, can be thrown into the middle of it to be confused and out of his depth. Not a bad choice for a character, really. He's an interesting sort of man, too: the first time we see him he's being very angry and vulgar, bullying his underlings, but over the course of the story, we see much more to him than that.

Sailing to Sarantium mostly concerns his journey to Sarantium, and his first couple of days there, and his designs for the dome that he's to decorate with a mosaic. In that short time we get a glimpse of the gods -- he interferes with an intended sacrifice -- and rather more than a glimpse of court machinations. Having a two book venture allows Guy Gavriel Kay to set his world up carefully.

It's Guy Gavriel Kay, so of course I like the writing. Sometimes it feels as if there's something off, something a little too simple or awkward about it, but for the most part it works. Sometimes I wish he would refrain from telling us exactly how his characters feel, and let us infer it, and I wish he wouldn't spend quite so much time in people's heads to tell the flashbacks, but it's not too obtrusive, for me.

There are some elements of the plot of which I don't remember the significance to the later plot. Reading it, I wasn't sure what purpose they served. Guy Gavriel Kay is too careful, in my experience to let a thread go -- but I'll have to report on that when I've finished the next book.


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October 2013

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