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Sailing to Sarantium (Sarantine mosaic) Hardcover – 7 Sep 1998


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; First Edition edition (7 Sept. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684851695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684851693
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,578,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay was born and raised in Canada. In 1974-5 he spent a year in Oxford assisting Christopher Tolkien in his editorial construction of J R R Tolkien's posthumously published THE SILMARILLION. He took a law degree at the University of Toronto on his return to Canada and was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1981. Guy Gavriel Kay lives in Toronto

Product Description

Amazon Review

Guy Gavriel Kay's fantasy career began with "The Fionavar Tapestry", a popular trilogy mixing Arthurian and Tolkienian themes. He's since developed an original vein of alternate- historical fiction; richly suspenseful stories whose period settings have different country names and added magic. The Lions of Al- Rassan reinvented medieval Spain; Sailing to Sarantium lovingly reflects the intrigue and splendour of the Byzantine Empire, and echoes W.B. Yeats's famous Byzantium poems. Magic exists: at least one old god is horribly real, and those artificial singing birds celebrated by Yeats take their life from an unexpected, creepy source. Sarantium City is intensely imagined, with dynastic upheavals, riot and rebellion, a smashing chariot race, and knives glinting in every alley. There's sharp intelligence here, too. The hero, an outlander mosaic expert summoned to decorate Sarantium's newest and greatest dome, faces his worst test at the Emperor's court--where mechanical trickery lurks, conversation is double-edged, exile awaits the loser in a debate on mosaic techniques, and there's a Sherlockian challenge to deduce how the top charioteer pulled off a magical-seeming coup. Kay has laid fine groundwork for this new series "The Sarantine Mosaic", with more to follow. --David Langford

Review

'This is Kay at his very very best!' -- BSFA VECTOR

‘LORD OF EMPERORS is wonderful. I never expect less from Guy Gavriel Kay.’ -- ROBERT JORDAN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
'Sailing to Sarantium' is the first ('Lord of Emperors' the second) of the Sarantine Mosaic 'duology' (?!). Together they provide you with a wonderful impression of life in a great city (modelled on Byzantium) and the people who live their lives there. We learn about the plans and desires of an Empress (though anyone who can figure out her husband and his plans should immediately apply to Mensa!) and a page later the hopes, fears and insecurities of a kitchen boy. The 'hero', the prime character, is a mosaicist - Caius Crispin. He has the opportunity of a lifetime and through his journey, relations to others, but primarily through his work, we get to know a wonderfully realised character.

There are intricate plans and plots by nearly everyone at court; there is thrilling, fast-passed action at the hippodrome where the chariots (which dominate every aspect of life in Sarantium) race; and there is the philosophical bent of the author who really does seem to be trying tell us something about human nature - though it feels like a discussion between author and reader.

One thing to note is the women! In Sarantium the women, as Crispin finds out, have just as much (or as little) control as the men do.

All of GGK's books are good, my particular favourites being The Lions of Al-Rassan and A Song for Arbonne - but the two novels comprising the Saratine Mosaic truly surpass his other works.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
Amazon's synopsis wrongly states that "Sailing to Sarantium" continues the world Kay created in "Tigana". In fact it expands and enriches the world of "The Lions of Al-Rassan", especially the Jaddite religion which is moving towards schism similar to the medieval Catholic-Orthodox schism.
This is a well-told story with vivid and engaging characters, but the sense of place and of the real world around them is not as strong as in some of Kay's other works, such as the unforgettable "The Lions of Al-Rassan". The details of life are there, especially the technicalities of the mosaicist's craft and the charioteer's challenge, but the splendours and wonders of Byzantium's golden age can only be glimpsed amidst the petty intrigues of the court.
Well worth reading, but hardly the tour de force of "Tigana" or "The Lions of Al-Rassan".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Arch Stanton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
This "fantasy kingdom" is nothing more than thinly disguised historical fiction. Everything in here (with the exception of the three main characters) has a direct equivalent in the Byzantine Empire of Justinian. This goes for culture, characters, terms, events, everything. Just to show how utterly slavishly he sticks to this here's a brief list of names and their historical equivalents:
Sarantium=Byzantium
Valerius II=Justinian
Hildric=Theoderic
Gisel=Amalasuntha
Pertennius=Procopius
hippodrome=hippodrome
Rhodias=Rome
Bassania=Sassanian Persia
Esperana=Spain
Thrakesia=Thrace
Varena=Ravenna

There are too many to list, but rest assured that even the ones I don't list here have their equivalents. Not only are these copies, but most of them are pretty obvious too (my favorite is Varena which is simply an anagram for Ravenna. Bassanid feels like a bad joke). These parallels exist in the narrative as well. The easiest way to show that is to summarize the plot using the real names, with the changed names in parentheses. Rome (Rhodias) ruled the original empire, but now the empire has converted to Christianity (Jaddism) from paganism and moved to Byzantium (Sarantium). Justinian (Valerius II) helped put his uncle on the throne, and now rules alongside his wife, the former prostitute Theodora (Alixana). After the Church of Holy Wisdom (Sanctuary of Holy Wisdom) is destroyed in the dangerous Nika Riot (Victory Riot, which is just the translation of the Greek word), Justinian orders it rebuilt. He summons artisans from all over the empire to help. In addition Justinian's preparing to send Belisarius (Leontes) off to reconquer Italy (Batiara) from the Ostrogoths (Antae). His reign is also known for a devastating plague.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
I would have liked to have given this work higher praise, and based solely upon the prologue and second section of the work could have. However, part one of the narrative remains for me very uneven, in large part burdened by a journey that appears to accomplish little, other than bringing together several companions of the adventure and muddying the tale with religious and magical elements that at the book's conclusion remain attenuated and for the most part unexplained as to their relationship within the larger context of the story. Granted, these unresolved and only partially substantiated elements may find resolution in the second volume, but to date they remain incompletely integrated into the narrative, and only tenuous and apparently dangling story threads, and in the manner they have been introduced and followed here, I question that any further development will entirely be successful in fully incorporating them into the later volume. I hope I am proven wrong. However, for the moment this work seems to lack the tight plotting that was a strength in Tigana, Song for Arbonne, and The Lions of Al-Rassan, and seems in part a return to the often extraneous and wandering plot development present in The Fionavar Trilogy.
Nonetheless, in comparison to many works of fantasy currently available, this book remains far better than most, and the prologue is almost worth the price of admission in and of itself. I will await the release of the second and concluding volume--though I will wait until it's out in paperback--in the hope that its pages will do much to repair and restore the stumble that appears to occur in the early portion of the story. Despite my hesitation to fully applaud this effort, Kay remains among the handful of authors representing the best in fantasy fiction.
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