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...
Rating: 2 Stars
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I find it interesting when authors take history and turn it on its head. They have the opportunity to make things right that we see as having happened incorrectly and adding fantastical elements to an otherwise ordinary time period.
While I found Kay's writing style to be quite lyrical, I thought that the text suffered. I looked and could not find any evidence of this book being a sequel to a previous work, but that is what it read like. I felt the whole time as though there were a lot of events that I was missing that might have brought all of the action together.
There was obviously a lot of work put into this book, what with all the details in evidence, but with what I've said about it feeling like a sequel, I must also add that there were significant portions of the story that felt very slow. The lyrical writing, quite elegant in places, became burdensome after awhile and made the book more of a brick than a refuge from an ordinary world.
I think I can safely say that it takes an enormous amount of willpower to make it through this book, not only because of the events of the story, but also because of the time it takes to get through them. I would leave this for a long weekend, maybe a couple of long weekends, during the winter when you need to imagine the warmth of the wide world again.
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