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Guy Gavriel Kay


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2 hours ago, polishgenius said:

 

I really want him to do something or a linked set of somethings based on Poland around partition times. It'd be a later setting than he usually goes for, of course, but so many of the themes of national memory, things lost, cultural endurance etc would be mineable. Maybe something based around the Deluge, too, though that'd just make me guilty for never reading The Trilogy yet. 

I wouldn't mind seeing something set in his France analog...maybe connecting to the viking style raiders of Last Light and such...

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The Deluge epic would make such a splendid television series.  But then it already is a splendid film.

I believe Tolkien read Sienkiewicz's Trilogy with care. Tolkien had a great deal of language skills, but I don't know if that reached to being able to read Polish -- though I wouldn't be particularly surprised if it did.  But the classic English translations of his books preserve very useful lessons in ways of portraying a manner of "high" speaking and language use in a time long past, that he would have found interesting for his own efforts to do that in LOTR.  Of course it is just that manner and style that puts off at least English readers from reading those books.  I have enjoyed them myself so many times over the years that makes me sad.  (My maternal great-grandmother, always my reliable first provider of portals into the historical past, had all of the author's novels.)

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Five years after the fall of Sarantium, the Jaddite world continues to argue over their inability to unite and retake the great city. However, an assassination in a coastal city of the Majriti, far to the west, sets in train a series of momentous events. At their heart is a Kindath trader and a young woman who was once abducted by corsairs. Surviving to adulthood, she has vowed vengeance on those who wronged her.
 
The arrival of a new Guy Gavriel Kay novel is an event to be celebrated. Every three years or so, a new Kay novel arrives. Established readers will have a sense of what to find: an erudite work of fantasy with beautiful, thoughtful prose. But the story and the historical parallels Kay delights in finding are always a surprise.
 
All the Seas of the Worlds can easily be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, although it is also the third (and possibly concluding) book in a linked thematic series, continuing from 2016's Children of Earth and Sky and 2019's A Brightness Long Ago (All the Seas of the World is set several years after A Brightness Long Ago and maybe twenty years before Children of Earth and Sky). All three books are also set in a larger world, also the setting for his classic 1995 novel The Lions of Al-Rassan, the Sarantine Mosaic duology (Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors) and his 2004 novel The Last Light of the Sun. Familiarity with Kay's work can enhance enjoyment of this novel, as you'll know who Folci d'Arcosi is and how he became so renowned, but the narrative is completely self-contained as it stands.
 
The historical analogues between the novel and real history are slighter this time (the 1535 conquest of Tunis may be one influence) and the focus is on two major protagonists. Rafel ben Natan is a Kindath corsair and merchant with a complicated family background. His friend and ally Lenia is a former slave of Asharite corsairs who is filled with anger towards her captors and a need for vengeance. However, as the novel continues, Lenia's experiences give her something more to live for than just the need for blood. Similarly, the political-religious situation with the Holy Patriarch of Rhodias angrily demanding vengeance for the fall of Sarantium slow changes to a more nuanced political situation with a politically canny substitute for that vengeance making itself known. Characterisation is Kay's greatest achievement, panting his characters as flawed but relatable colours and having them overcoming external challenges and their own doubts and insecurities in order to prosper.
 
All the Seas of the World is both a deeply personal novel, closely focused on two major protagonists and a number of minor ones (some recurring from A Brightness Long Ago, or precurring before Children of Earth and Sky), and also a hugely epic one. It may be the most epic novel Kay has written, spanning all the lands of the Middle Sea. Esperana - former Al-Rassan - makes its most significant showing in a Kay novel since The Lions of Al-Rassan itself, and we spend time with the King of Ferrieres, the rulers of multiple Majriti and Batiaran city-states, the exile ruler of Trakesia and even, briefly, the conqueror of Sarantium himself. Kay shows an adept facility for Game of Thrones-style realpolitik and a solid affinity for battles, but these are not the primary focus of his novels. Instead, he uses epic events to impact on the lives of ordinary people, or uses ordinary people to set in motion unexpected, epic events that reflect back on his characters.
 
It is not hyperbole to say that Kay has a claim to being one of our greatest living fantasy writers, if not the greatest - an opinion shared by the likes of George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson - and All the Seas of the World (*****) is one of his very strongest books. Characterisation, narrative and prose all work in near-perfect concert to deliver a formidable work of art, with a more prominent depiction of politics and warfare than some of his other works have delivered. The novel will be released on 17 May.

 

 

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Good review.

I'm not sure I agree would say that this book stands alone, exactly. For me, it was so riddled with references and allusions to events and characters in the previous two novels, that I think someone coming to it brand new would have the constant lingering sense that they're missing something and resonances and emotional notes Kay is intending to make are passing them by.  It's true that these things are generally not critical to plot, story, or character, and no doubt someone coming to it fresh can enjoy it, but I do think they'll feel like they're missing something on a thematic level. It's not the recent Kay novel I'd suggest someone read if they hadn't read him before but didn't want something published outside of the last decade

FWIW, because of that feeling, I think All The Seas of the World actually doesn't work quite as well as A Brightness Long Ago, or most of Children of Earth and Sky (Asharius interlude excluded, which was a genuine structural problem). But Brightness is maybe my favorite book of his since Lord of Emperors (it's that or Under Heaven).

My guess is Kay either visits some other segment of this two moon setting, or he perhaps revisits the faux-China setting. I don't see him doing a new setting entirely any time soon.

 

 

Edited by Ran
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3 hours ago, Ran said:

 

My guess is Kay either visits some other segment of this two moon setting, or he perhaps revisits the faux-China setting. I don't see him doing a new setting entirely any time soon.

 

 

I'd still love to see something set within Ferrier (which I've always associated with France, though I know that isn't necessarily correct) and tie it into Last Light by maybe using Rollo and the founding of Normandy as a backdrop...? 

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On 3/16/2022 at 10:11 AM, Ran said:

It's certainly about the conflicts taking place around and on the  Mediterranean Middle Sea, and does feature intrigues and assassinations, and there's even a military campaign (but you only see a sliver of it). This particular book feels very firmly like something Dunnett might have written featuring Niccolò.

Ok, this is now quite firmly on my “Must Read” list.

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Was disappointed on the weekend there were no Kay books except the trade paperback of Fionavar on the shelves of my local Chapters bookstore.  I have a gift card from the xmas before the pandemic started i wanted to use, and I still need a hardcover copy of A Brightness Long Ago.  The SF/F section in its entirety was looking rather thinner than I remember.  I'm guessing this is a consequence of more SF/F fans using Amazon than going to bookstores?  Surprising though as I thought Kay was a strong seller within Canada.

 

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14 minutes ago, SpaceChampion said:

Surprising though as I thought Kay was a strong seller within Canada.

 

Wow, that's quite shocking. I'd assume they'd have more stock as well. The online store seems to have trade paperbacks of most of his works available, at least. Could the gift card be used online? Or alternatively ask the local store to order some in from the warehouse?

Edited by Ran
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57 minutes ago, Ran said:

Wow, that's quite shocking. I'd assume they'd have more stock as well. The online store seems to have trade paperbacks of most of his works available, at least. Could the gift card be used online? Or alternatively ask the local store to order some in from the warehouse?

It looks like I can use it online but will wait until All The Seas is out and hope they've restocked by then.  I've mentioned this problem on Penguin Canada's post about the new book, hopefully someone there fixes it.

What's more shocking is I haven't read any Kay since Under Heaven in 2010, despite having all but one published since then.  I've read so little that's not on a screen in a long, long time.

Edited by SpaceChampion
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