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Sailing to Sarantium
Guy Gavriel Kay
Adult Fiction KAY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Heavy of character and light of plot, Kay's (The Lions of Al Rassan) new series opens with the heady scents of sex, horseflesh and power. In the Holy City of Sarantium, the wily, murderous new emperor, Valerius II, stiffs his soldiers of their pay in order to build a fabulous monument to immortalize his reign. To adorn his temple, he summons a renowned elder mosaicist, who entreats his brilliant, younger partner, Caius Crispus of Varena, to make the journey to Sarantium in his stead. Crispus, who lost his zest for life after his beloved wife and daughters died of the plague, makes the journey under protest. His besieged country's young queen forces him to carry a dangerous, private message to the emperor, the contents of which could cost him his life. En route to Sarantium, Crispus becomes involved with mystically souled mechanical birds created by the magician Zoticus; encounters an awe-inspiring pagan god; saves the life of a beautiful, enslaved prostitute; and demonstrates that decency brings out the best in hired workers. At his destination, he learns to trust his own instincts, especially where knife-wielding assassins and powerful women who use their sexuality as a weapon are concerned. Kay is at his best when describing the intertwining of art and religion or explicating the ancient craft of mosaic work. The slow pace of the novel and the sheer volume of its characters (if ever a book cried out for a listing of dramatis personae, this is it) are dismaying, however, and don't augur well for future installments in the series. Rights: Westwood Creative Artists. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Summoned to the court of the Emperor of Sarantium, Crispin, a mosaicist from faraway Varena, encounters a city filled with beauty and treachery beyond his wildest imaginations. Caught in a web of political intrigue and religious controversy, Crispin attempts to retain his artistic vision even as he lays to rest the ghosts of his embittered past. With consummate skill and a flair for leisurely storytelling, the author of The Lions of Al-Rassan (HarperCollins, 1995) begins a new series set in a fantasy version of the Byzantine Empire. This evocative tale of one man's rendezvous with his destiny is a priority purchase for fantasy collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Caius Crispus "Crispin"
Headstrong; lost his family to the plague; carrying a secret message for the emperor.

Valerius II, Emperor of Sarantium

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