Review: Sailing to Sarantium & Lord of Emperors

The Sarantine Mosaic, a Duology

By Guy Gavriel Kay

I’ve read nearly every book that Kay has written and never been dissapointed.  This series was no exception.  The first book, Sailing to Sarantium, is a bit slow, but once you’ve finished the series, you see the necessity of it.  And once you’ve finished Lord of Emperors, I think you’ll agree with me that the series is one of the great masterpieces of literature in our time.

First, Sailing to Sarantium.  This first book serves mostly as set up for the second book.  Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t stand on it’s own merits.  It’s chock full of the usual impeccable literary skill of Guy Gavriel Kay.   The story is intricately weaved together and leads us from a small chapel into the metropolis of Sarantium.  All the while, we learn about Crispin the mosaicist and follow him on a journey that is filled with beauty, intrigue, and mythos.  This is a wonderful book, with the only detraction being the fact that it is almost entirely a character build for the second half of the duology.

The second half, Lord of Emperors, makes it all worth while.  What was already a great work in character developement becomes a masterpiece.  We continue the journey of Crispin as he learns the subtleties of the courts of Sarantium and the intricacies of the personal relationships outside of those courts.  Tragically, Crispin gets drawn into a story that far exceeds his desires to create his masterpiece and becomes a key player in a story of much grander scale.  Tragic and devine at the same time, Lord of Emperors comes to a conclusion that will leave you wondering how you could have thought it would end otherwise.

If you have ever read any of Kay’s work, and not this series, do yourself the favor and pick it up today.  You can pick it up used off of Amazon for an extremely fair price.  And if you haven’t read any of Kay’s work, what are you waiting for?