Re­mak­ing his­tory

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Bri­die Ro­man

re­leased 12 May 592 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Author Guy Gavriel Kay Pub­lisher Hod­der and Stoughton

Set in a pseudo- Re­nais­sance Europe, Chil­dren Of Earth And Sky is a look at a world of war, com­merce and in­trigue. Sev­eral lo­ca­tions stand in for his­tor­i­cal cities, such as Ser­essa, aka the Vene­tian Repub­lic, and Dubrava, aka Dubrovnik.

The story fol­lows the fates of a young artist, a dis­graced no­ble lady, a fierce war­rior woman, a young sol­dier and a charm­ing mer­chant. There’s also an am­bas­sador, a chan­cel­lor, the old Em­press- mother and more. Some might even say there are too many points of view. In­deed, the story changes be­tween them so swiftly that you strug­gle to be­come fully at­tached to the world or its many char­ac­ters.

Rather frus­trat­ingly the text also changes tense through­out, with all but one of the char­ac­ters writ­ten in the past tense, but chang­ing to present tense for Marin, the mer­chant. It’s a con­fus­ing nar­ra­tive de­vice that con­tin­ues to dis­tract and jar through­out the book. If Kay was try­ing to make a point, it isn’t made clearly enough.

There’s a fan­tas­tic plot in Chil­dren Of Earth And Sky – it’s a truly sweep­ing epic – and some bril­liant char­ac­ters. But all of this is mired in clumsy nar­ra­tive de­vices and a lack of fo­cus.

Back in 1974/ 1975, when he was a stu­dent, Kay worked with Christo­pher Tolkien, help­ing to edit The Sil­mar­il­lion.

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