Review – Children of Earth and Sky

Children of Earth and Sky

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

This is a story set in the same faux-Europe as the Sarantine Mosaic series, but after Sarantium fell to the Osman Khalifate.

A mixed cast of characters from various places around the Mediterranean meet on a voyage across land and sea, but this is very much a story of people rather than the journey.

I am an incurable fan of Kay’s work. His lyricism, and his deep, seemingly endless love for humanity in all its frailty and confusion, create stories that compel every bit as much as any grand epic adventure. Fantasy does not require wizards, inhuman races, and evil empires to engage readers, for Kay understands that humanity itself is the core of every great story.

And this story is anchored indelibly in the humanity of its characters.

Throughout the various journeys in Children of Earth and Sky, we see how great things and not so great are influenced by simple human choices, but random chance, by things that no one can really explain. The characters question themselves, the world, and each other, yet still move on with the simple acts of living.

This is a novel of war without war, of human conflict and love and confusion. There is no evil empire, there is no real villain, simply people of character and conviction following the courses they have chosen, or have had chosen for them, until their ends. And the ends are the same for us all. Live goes until it goes no more.

I am not sure how to recommend a book like this, given that the basic function of fantasy seems so often to be excitement through adventure. This is not exciting, so much as it is compelling. The action is brief and mostly undescribed. There is violent conflict. There is spiritual conflict as well, and also lack of conflict altogether at times.

If an epic fantasy is sailing a great ship from origin to destination, this is a gentle float down a river. The river has its own beginning and end, but we are simply there in the middle, watching flotsam and jetsam tossed by the current.

Until the ride is over, and everything goes on without us.

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