Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

25938417Published: May 10th 2016

Publisher: NAL

Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Format: eARC Source: Publisher via Netgalley

My Rating: four-star-rating-black-md

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The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new book, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide.
From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.

The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.

As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world…



Children of Earth and Sky was at the top of my wish list earlier this year. After getting it, however, I just felt no desire to read it right away. So it took me longer than I expected to read this, and I really wish that I had read it sooner. Despite all of the political machinations, I really love this book. It’s very character driven, which I had a bit of a hard time getting used to. Still, it made for a great read.

What I Liked

The characters: Although it was an overwhelming task to keep up with all the important names, I couldn’t stop reading to see how they all connected. Danica, a girl set on vengeance, was my favorite character. I liked what she set out for, and she happens to be a badass, so that helped in my liking of her. Aside from Danica, we also have a slew of others: Marin, Pero, Leonara, just to name a few. Each of these characters have a purpose. There are spies, lies, sex, and everything in between. Kay did a great job with character development, without overdoing it. He gives you just enough to get a feel for who is narrating and why that person is in the position of this band of misfits. 

The world building: This book is not so much fantasy as it is alternate European history. Even with the long descriptive passages, I was able to visualize most of what was presented to me. As a lover of historical movies, it wasn’t hard to do. The author paints vivid pictures of Senjan, Seressa, Obravic and the open sea. If you are keen on world building (which you should be if you enjoy alternative historical novels) then this book will hit all of your buttons.

Action: It takes some time to get to the meat of this story, but I didn’t mind it in the least. After I got passed the first 150 or so pages, I sailed right through. There are battles and killings (some unnecessary IMO), political intrigue, a crazy emperor, rogues, raiders, and heroes. It’s very adventure-y.

What I Didn’t Like

The slow start didn’t really bother me once I got to certain points, but it definitely influenced my rating. I’m usually a fan of third person POV, but I don’t think it helped me here. It wasn’t confusing, but there were moments when my head was spinning a little. I had to keep up with a lot of information. 


Yes. I think fans of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and even Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows will enjoy this book. It’s very character driven, has amazing world building, and there’s some action and adventure thrown in.


14 thoughts on “Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

  1. I’ve had my eye on this one anyway and read some good reviews and now you just had to say ‘character driver’ *shakes fist*. I have to bump this up my tbr.
    Lynn 😀


  2. Glad you enjoyed! I really liked this one, and I didn’t even think it was one of his best! Like you said, it was slow at times, but Kay writes beautifully. My favorite books by him are probably Under Heaven and The Lions of Al-Rassan.


  3. I hadn’t heard of this book and I’m still trying to figure out if I like pirates or not. BUT I’m all about character-driven novels!

    It’s always funny when a first perspective is preferred over a 3rd person perspective. I typically prefer 3rd person perspective as well, but sometimes the 1st person can pack that emotional punch.


  4. I don’t read many alternate histories, but I do like them. I’m okay with a slow start if the writing is rich in description that captivates me, too. Looks good!


  5. I’ve been meaning to pick this up, but I just don’t know if I can invest the time for it right now. As it stands, I started Game of Thrones and have regretted it since. I just don’t think I’m quite ready for a fantasy read of this caliber. I’m glad the slow start didn’t deter you from enjoying the novel. I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the books in this series.


  6. It’s always nice when you finally get to a book that was on the top of your wishlist! I am glad you could enjoy it, and it sorta sounds perfect for me. I like politics in my books, I’m a very character driven reader and I also like the Grisha and GOT series. So yes, I will be checking this one out!


  7. I saw this one around a couple of months ago and didn’t really look too much into it. It sounds amazing though and I can see myself enjoying the alternate European history bits especially. Glad this was a hit for you despite it being slow at times.


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