I read Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium and its sequel last year (or maybe the year before) and thoroughly enjoyed them. So much fantasy feels so very centered on western European culture and histories and Kay breaks the mold a little bit with some very Ottoman-inspired fantasy. The Lions of Al-Rassan, which I was very much looking forward to, was similar in that respect, I just wish it had been trimmed down, or possibly split across two books.
This is a sprawling fantasy story covering multiple kingdoms and their disparate religions and spanning across years. Sometimes the next chapter will jump six months in the timeline, time passes quite quickly for these characters. There are three major religions each of which views the other two as hell-bound infidels, some more stridently than others. There are kingdoms that have fractured and seek to be reconquered, though every new king thinks it’ll be him that does the conquering. There are exiles and betrayals and unexpected traveling companions – your standard magic-less fantasy, in other words. And it’s good, it really is enjoyable, it’s just too damn long. If Kay had trimmed one or two plots and maybe a hundred pages, I’d be adding another star to this one.
It did of course also bother me that there is essentially one female character of any significance and she’s of the “hyper-competent in all things and everyone is in love with her” variety. It feels very been-there-read-that and, when one of the other main characters is a master assassin who really just dreams of being a poet, can seem like a bit of a creative letdown.
Bingo Square: Reading the TBR