Book Review: Lord of Emperors by Kay (4 Stars)

Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay

4 out of 5 stars

Read in June 2010

The characters I related to best surprised me in this second half of the Sarantine Mosaic duology. I wept more than once for a chariot racer and for an obsessed, vengeful woman. Crispan, through whose eyes most of this tale was viewed, did not touch any of my heart-strings.

Both this novel, and its predecessor, Sailing to Sarantium, included phenomenal chapters filled with thundering horses hooves, dust and crashing chariots … just a pleasant day at the Hippodrome races. My heart thudded in my chest as I read and imagined the tumult that surged around the Spina.

The true wonder pirouetted in an Emperor’s coveted private walk through a connecting tunnel deep underground, far from the roar of the masses and the intrigues of his Court … Kay had me rushing headlong through hundreds of pages, thousands upon thousands of words to reach this quiet moment. Yet he made me pause, draw back, draw up, high as a mosaicist on a scaffold, and look down at the turning away, at the hiccup of history that brought all visions of legacy tinkling down to be ground to dust under the heels of hatred.

Honestly, I had to give myself a break at this point. I knew, in my heart, the unravelling had begun, the corruption and destruction expanding outward swift as an earthquake’s finger-like fissures.

Though I wondered throughout both novels which woman Crispin would finally connect with and eventually marry, I knew completely the moment when a former actress and dancer asked Crispin the achingly desperate question ‘How did you go on living?’ – a reference to the death of his wife and daughters to the plague.

Kay left us to guess which woman met him under the Sanctuary’s dome at the end of Sailing to Sarantium, but he left no doubt at the end of Lord of Emperors. Alixana and Crispin found a reason to go on living, chasing away the leaping dolphins with dreams of children and peace in the west, out of the ruins of old Empires, broken hearts and shattered lives.

GR Status Updates:

06/10/2010 page 1
0.19% 1 comment
06/10/2010 page 30
6.0% “Finished Chapter I – Desert nomadic intrigue starts our return to Sarantium.”
06/11/2010 “So my guess about who the woman was at the end of the first book was wrong, sort of. Who’s getting married is a delight, however.”
06/12/2010 page 103
19.0% “A Bassanid at the wedding.”
06/13/2010 page 139
26.0% “Never underestimate the observation power of a secretary who also happens to be an historian.”
06/13/2010 page 167
31.0% “Crispin’s diversion from work may prove lethal.”
06/13/2010 page 197
37.0% “Taking a break from the sordid sensual night crawlings of various ans sundry game pieces.”
06/14/2010 page 257
48.0% “The Bassanid physician faces a dilemma for conscience.”
06/14/2010 page 291
55.0% “The world hings on the turn of a bird’s wings.”
06/15/2010 page 339
64.0% “Why do I get emotional during sacrificial athletic endeavors?”
06/15/2010 page 387
73.0% “Crispin caught between three powerful scheming women.”
06/16/2010 page 447
84.0% “A Bassanid physician touches many changed lives, but high and low.”
06/16/2010 page 480
90.0% “Go west, young doctor, go west!”
06/16/2010 page 531