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Sailing to Sarantium (Sarantine mosaic) [Hardcover]

Guy Gavriel Kay
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Sep 1998 Sarantine mosaic
The first of a two-volume story continuing that of the world created in "Tigana". The empire of Sarantium is beset to east and west but Valerius II wishes to take back the western lands which gave birth to the empire he now rules. The master mosaicist, Caius Crispus, is called upon to play a role.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; First Edition edition (7 Sep 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: 282,125 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


'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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine book, but not his best 5 Aug 2000
By A Customer
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical book! 3 Jan 2004
By A Customer
'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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The world creator does it again! Superb! 31 Mar 2000
By A Customer
Since Tolkien created Middle Earth fantasy novelists have struggled to construct a fantasy society which is as detailed, well-rounded and satisfying to the reader. Guy Gavriel Kay hasn't struggled at all - he's succeeded, several times over. While the David Eddings and the David Gemmells of the fantasy scene revisit established settings in their shelf-hogging sagas, Kay gifts the reader with a new world to explore in each much-awaited novel - each one a multi-faceted jewel; the closest thing within the genre which resembles art. His latest work of art is 'Sailing to Sarantium' - a rare occurance in the realms of fantasy literature - a novel you can read without being completely familiar with the writer's previous volumes of prose. But this particular novel should carry a health warning : May utterly consume your attention to the exclusion of all other distractions until thoroughly read. With its superbly drawn cast of characters and intricate plot, its not a casual read - but worth the effort.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Even a Fantasy Novel But Bad Historical Fiction
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... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Arch Stanton
5.0 out of 5 stars Sarantium
Thi was the first book I read by Guy Gavriel Kay, so I can't compare it to other series. I thought the two books were absolutely wonderful. Read more
Published on 3 May 2011 by Paul the Work Avoider
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read
This is a beautiful, captivating, magical story happening in a Byzantine-style world. I grew up in Istanbul (called Constantinople before 15th century) so the world Kay created... Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2008 by Yagiz Erkan
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, evocative, poetic
As one who has read and reread the Fionavar Tapestry, I was a little dubious of this 'historical fantasy' and couldn't actually finish the book on the first attempt. Read more
Published on 5 Aug 2005 by Louisa Hosafcioglu
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed...
I'd read some GGK before 'Sailing to Sarantium' (the 'Favonia Tapestry' and 'Tigana' to be exact) so I had a fair idea what to expect. Read more
Published on 13 April 2004 by MR DANIEL T GILKS
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting and absorbing
Having read the other reviews, I can see I am going to be slightly controversial here. I think that Crispin is an excellently depicted character who is very believable as well as... Read more
Published on 6 Jun 2001 by J A Dickson
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the sequel *before* you finish!
I have to disagree with the reviewer who felt this was an off-day for Guy Gavriel Kay; Sailing to Sarantium had me spell-bound as much as Tigana did. Read more
Published on 26 Mar 2001 by HLT
2.0 out of 5 stars SO even geniuses have off days
Guy Gavriel Kay is a staggeringly good author. He's lyrical, moving, ludicrously well researched. His plots always hang together and his characters are the kind of people you'll... Read more
Published on 5 Dec 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars mix of history and fantasy in a full and rich epic
One of the things I loved about this book, as a mediaeval history student was the inclusion of quirky historical details such as the description of Sarantium (based on... Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2000
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