Oh hello Friday, long time no see. I convinced myself on Wednesday morning that it was Saturday, turned my alarm off and went back to sleep… Suffice to say this week has felt like forever!
It’s not been my strongest reading week either, but I am okay with that and I will tell you why. I finished Darkhaven by AFE Smith first and while it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, it was a quick satisfying fantasy read. If you’d like to know a bit more about it, I wrote a quick summary in last week’s Bookends that you can check out. But my next read, my next read made the slower week worth it.
‘Villages or farms on a violent border divided by faith didn’t become peaceful because of pen strokes in courts far away.’
I picked up the only book I started and finished this week: Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay. I am so glad I took my time with this one as woah. It did not disappoint. The only other GGK book I have read is Tigana and I was nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy any of his other works as much. I was wrong. I absolutely love Children of Earth and Sky. Love, love, love. I adore his writing, it is so powerful and emotive and he doesn’t shy away from switching up the sentence structures as the pace picks up/slows down. Kay writes alternative histories with a twist toward the fantastic. I wouldn’t class them as full fantasy stories, but the lands his characters inhabit, while heavily influenced by our world, are fictitious. There is also an element of magic, in this story we have the ability for spirits to linger in their descendants minds for a time (although this is only really applicable to one character). But largely, it reads like historical fiction, but with new, made-up characters and place names. Children of Earth and Sky looks at the history between Venice and Dubrovnik, the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottomans. It spans years, multiple character perspectives and several cities and roads. Yes, roads.
I find it incredible how easily Kay moves from one character to the next in an omniscient narrative and is able to go from one small event and then almost zooms out and describes how this ripples across time and distance to affect greater changes. Seamlessly. I was so caught up in this world and its characters that I was shouting when bad things happened, cheering at the good parts and nearly in tears at other, quieter moments of the story. It was great to see all these different character journeys meet up, separate and come together again in wonderful clarity and emotion. I know I’ve stressed this, but the writing is incredible. I have tabbed many sections and even read some aloud to Ryan because I needed to share the experience. It probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there are a lot of commas but I like how that makes you ‘speak’ the sentence in your head when you’re reading it. It’s wonderful.
GGK explores big themes in his books and this one is no different, we explore the endurance of love and friendship, national pride, faith, the toll of warfare/invasion, the fall of cities, how sometimes the right path/choice creeps up on you… and he weaves them all together masterfully. There are moments when I just sat back and thought about what I’d just read. He makes it easy to sympathise with all sides and demonstrates how easy it is to be blinded by faith/ignorance. Nothing felt forced and the ending was great.
‘We live among mysteries. Love is one, there are others. We must not imagine we understand all there is to know about the world.’
Last but not least, I am still listening to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Last week I expressed how I was still waiting for it to get going. I’m half way through and still waiting…and for a book over 1000 pages long, that is no fun. I am struggling. The writing is beautiful and the premise (of two magicians trying to bring magic back to Napoleonic Britain) has promise, but it is just so boring. It reads like a history book of nothing. If it wasn’t for the great writing and that so many people rave about it, and that I have put up with nearly half of it, I would stop. But I shall persevere.
So how has your week been? Any exciting reads? Let’s chat!
Happy reading x