Sarantium is the most greatest city in the known world. But few can imagine traveling a great distance so to say someone is sailing to Sarantium means they are making a great change and perhaps completely abandoning the life they knew. The mosaicist Crispin is starting that journey both literally and figuratively. He's drifting through life since losing his family in a plague when he receives a commission from the Sarantine Emperor to decorate the ceiling of the great chapel he's having built. This ordinary artist sets out on a journey that will travel through lands steeped in ancient myths and the dangerous heights of imperial politics before finding himself in an artistic work that should be known throughout the known world.
Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy Gavriel Kay has written many good books but my favorite is The Lions Al-Rassan. As always with Kay the writing is superb, the world feels completely real, and the characters are compelling. Religion, politics, poetry, and three memorable characters are all about to collide and be torn apart as Al-Rassan is poised to fall under a weak king. Centuries ago the Asharites, fanatic worshipers of the Stars, came across the sea from their desert land and conquered Al-Rassan. Ammar ibn Khairan is a poet, warrior, and an advisor to kings. He is also an assassin on behalf of those kings. But Al-Rassan cares more for commerce these days than faith and the desert fanatics see them as little better than infidels and consider Ammar one of the worst. Rodrigo Belmonte is a noted general of one of the three Jaddite kingdoms that border Al-Rassan to the north. The Jaddite horsemen, followers of the Sun, are restless and want more glory, more land, and to exterminate the Kindath, who worship the Moons, and are tolerated in civilized Al-Rassan. Jehane bet Ishak, a Kindath physician, finds herself caught between gathering armies and two great men as the three of them are thrown together one fatefull night just before their world crumbles.
To review a book a read 25 years ago would usually require reading the book again. Perhaps the greatest recommendation I can offer for A Song For Arbonne is that 25 years and thousands of books later I remember it well. Arbonne is land of wine, music, and very fine seaports coveted by its landlocked neighbor Gorhaut. Unfortunately for the aging Countess who rules Arbonne the bulk of her armies belongs to her two dukes who have been on the verge of civil war for years. Enter Blaise of Gorhaut, an ordinary mercenary in the employ of one of Arbonne's lesser barons and let the game of thrones begin.
Guy Gavriel Kay offers up a solid fantasy tale with plenty of plotting and intrigue from cover to cover. The 9 provinces of the Peninsula of the Palm are shattered by war and find themselves split under the rule of 2 sorcerers from foreign lands. Four provinces have fallen to each sorcerer with only one remaining independent, which makes this province the key to the fragile balance of power. This tenuous situation has gone on for almost twenty years and this story tells the tale of the spark that sets off the powder keg.