Sailing to Sarantium

Sailing to Sarantium

by Guy Gavriel Kay

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Guy Gavriel Kay, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author of The Fionavar Tapestry, brings his unique storytelling imagination to an alternate Byzantine world…
Sarantium is the golden city: holy to the faithful, exalted by the poets, jewel of the world and heart of an empire.
Caius Crispus, known as Crispin, is a master mosaicist, creating beautiful art with colored stones and glass. Still grieving the loss of his family, he lives only for his craft—until an imperial summons draws him east to the fabled city. Bearing with him a Queen’s secret mission and seductive promise, and a talisman from an alchemist, Crispin crosses a land of pagan ritual and mortal danger, confronting legends and dark magic.
Once in Sarantium, with its taverns and gilded sanctuaries, chariot races and palaces, intrigues and violence, Crispin must find his own source of power in order to survive. He finds it, unexpectedly, high on the scaffolding of his own greatest creation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101462317
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/07/2010
Series: Sarantine Mosaic , #1
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 88,112
File size: 941 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay is the internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels. His work has been translated into over 30 languages. At the outset of his career Kay assisted in the editorial construction of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. He has also written for the Washington Post, the Globe and Mail, The National Post, and The Guardian, among others, and has spoken at literary events around the world. He was won numerous literary awards, and is the recipient of the International Goliardos Prize for his contributions to the literature of the fantastic. In 2014 he was named to the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honour.

Read an Excerpt


The Imperial Post, along with most of the civil positions in the Sarantine Empire after Valerius I died and his nephew, having renamed himself appropriately, took the Golden Throne, was under the hegemony 'of the Master of Offices.

The immensely complex running of the mails--from the recently conquered Majriti deserts and Esperana in the far west to the long, always shifting Bassanid border in the east, and from the northern wildernesses of Karch and Moskav to the deserts of Soriyya and beyond--required a substantial investment of manpower and resources, and no little requisitioning of labour and horses from those rural communities dubiously honoured by having an Imperial Posting Inn located in or near them.

The position of Imperial Courier, charged with the actual carrying of the public mails and court documents, paid only modestly well and involved an almost endless regimen of hard travelling, sometimes through uncertain territory, depending on barbarian or Bassanid activity in a given season. The fact that such positions were avidly solicited, with all the associated bribes, was a reflection of where the position might lead after a few years more than anything else.

The couriers of the Imperial Post were expected to be part-time spiesfor the Quaestor of Imperial Intelligence, and diligent labour in this unspoken part of the job--coupled with rather more of the associated bribes--might see a man appointed to the intelligence service directly, with more risks, less far-ranging travel, and significantly higher recompense. Along with a chance to be on the receiving end, at last, of some of the bribes changing hands.

As one'sdeclining years approached, an appointment from Intelligence back to, say, running a substantial Posting Inn could actually lead to a respectable retirement--especially if one was clever, and the Inn far enough from the City to permit rather more watering of wine and an enhancing of revenues by accepting travellers without the required Permits.

The position of courier was, in short, a legitimate career path for a man with sufficient means to make a start but not enough to be launched by his family in anything more promising.

This, as it happened, was a fair description of the competence and background of Pronoblus Tilliticus. Born with an unfortunately amusing name (a frequently cursed legacy of his mother's grandfather and his mother's unfamiliarity with current army vernacular), with limited skill at law or numbers, and only a modest paternal niche in Sarantine hierarchies, Tilliticus had been told over and again how fortunate he was to have had his mother's cousin's aid in securing a courier's position. His obese cousin, soft rump securely spread on a bench among the clerks in the Imperial Revenue office, had been foremost of those to make this observation at family gatherings.

Tilliticus had been obliged to smile and agree. Many times. He had a gathering-prone family.

In such an oppressive context--his mother was now constantly demanding he choose a useful wife--it was sometimes a relief to leave Sarantium. And now he was on the roads again with a packet of letters, bound for the barbarian Antae's capital city of Varena in Batiara and points en route. He also carried one particular Imperial Packet that came'unusually--directly from the Chancellor himself, with the elaborate Seal of that office, and instructions from the eunuchs to make this delivery with some ceremony.

An important artisan of some kind, he was given to understand. The Emperor was rebuilding the Sanctuary of Jad's Holy Wisdom. Artisans were being summoned to the City from all over the Empire and beyond. It irked Tilliticus: barbarians and rustic provincials were receiving formal invitations and remuneration on a level three or four times his own to participate in this latest Imperial folly.

In early autumn on the good roads north and then west through Trakesia it was hard to preserve an angry mien, however. Even Tilliticus found the weather lifting his spirits. The sun shone mildly overhead. The northern grain had been harvested, and on the slopes as he turned west the vineyards were purple with ripening grapes. Just looking at them gave him a thirst. The Posting Inns on this road were well known to him and they seldom cheated couriers. He lingered a few days at one of them (Let the damned paint-dauber wait for his summons a little!) and feasted on spit-roasted fox, stuffed fat with grapes. A girl he remembered seemed also to enthusiastically remember him. The innkeeper did charge double the price for her exclusive services, but Tilliticus knew he was doing it and saw that as one of the perquisites of a position he dreamed of for himself.

On the last night, however, the girl asked him to take her away, which was simply ridiculous.

Tilliticus refused indignantly and--abetted by a quantity of scarcely watered wine--offered her a lecture about his mother's family's lineage. He exaggerated only slightly; with a country prostitute it was hardly required. She didn't seem to take the chiding with particular good grace and in the morning, riding away, Tilliticus considered whether his affections had been misplaced.

A few days later he was certain they had been. Urgent medical circumstances dictated a short detour north and a further delay of several days at a well-known Hospice of Galinus, where he was treated for the genital infection she had given him.

They bled him, purged him with something that emptied his bowels and stomach violently, made him ingest various unpleasant liquids, shaved his groin, and daubed on a burning, foul-smelling black ointment twice a day. He was instructed to eat only bland foods and to refrain from sexual congress and wine for an unnatural length of time.

Hospices were expensive, and this on, being celebrated, was particularly so. Tilliticus was forced to bribe the chief administrator to record his stay as being for injuries incurred in the course of duties'or else he'd have had to pay the visit out of his own pocket.

Well, a crab-infested chit in a Posting Inn was an injury incurred in the Emperor's service, wasn't it?

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Sailing to Sarantium 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Naomi Novik fan. I love the fantasy/ alternative history genre. At the goodreads site, I was encouraged to seek out Mr. Kay's work, as a result. I started with the Lions of Al Rassan and despite loads of 'papers' (I am a teacher), I could not put the Nook down. Kay's world creation is engrossing. I like, although I cannot describe, his narrator. Reading Kay is like reading a book with a friend, who knows exactly when to be quiet and let the story tell itself, but also knows when to step in and drop a sardonic comment too. Sailing to Sarantium, shimmering with imagery of ancient Istanbul and Crispin's irascible ( understandably so) personality, was another good read. I am signing off to read the sequel. I think it safe to say that, at least for this reader, the summer of 2014 will be known as the summer of Kay ?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though not quite of Tolkein's standard, Sailing to Sarantium, along with its sequel, Lord of Emperors, draws the reader into an epic journey in a world of fantastic proportions. Crispin, the protagonist of the tale, wins the support of readers on his search for personal fulfilment, and we join with him in his struggle for justice and right in a corrupted court. Sailing to Sarantium is filled with wonderful imagery, and details Crispin's quest, and Lord of Emperors forms a conclusion that will leave all readers satisfied.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book swept me away the very first time I opened it and set foot in Kay's world. Kay does well in capturing a fantasy world on paper while making it reminiscent of a bygone era. It is poetic, rich in character and detailed enough to make the reader feel as if he has stepped into a totally different world while it is open. It is a page turner and a wonderful read. I recommend it to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book (and its sequel Lord of Emporers) were stunning. By far the best work that GGK has done so far and one of the best books that I have read in a long time. It's different than a lot of other fiction out there - its very memorable in a haunting sort of way.
Elizabeth-K More than 1 year ago
I have so enjoyed every by this author. He is quite magical!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kay is a poet and a literary scholar among the Harlequinesque fantasy genre. His characters are as finely-tuned as those of Eddings. The plot comes honestly out of the characterization.
babyblade on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vivid characters and setting.
trinibaby9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A work full of wit, humor, intrigue, love, hate, excitement, depth and sadness, this one really has it all. The characters are engrossing and well developed. Full of excellent description, but never boring or dry. I can't wait to read the second half, Kay is truly a master.
palemantle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first book of The Sarantine Mosaic duology starts off a bit ponderously and never does reach a frantic pace. I didn't mind though. The prose is elegant and beautiful, the world has just enough of an otherworldly air, and the characters are interesting, particularly Crispin and Carullus. There's some lively court intrigue and religious bickering to add spice to the tale as well. The journey to Sarantium was thoroughly enjoyable overall.
Karlstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great book in an excellent 2 book series. The characters and the setting are very well done, and the book is written very well. Unlike some of Kay's books, it is more direct, without some of the wandering his books are sometimes prone too, and it is not overly long. My only dislike was how long it took the plot to build, but it was worth the wait.
libraryofus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Amy) I've always been moderately interested in Byzantium - sufficiently that I recognized the historical bit from which the story was grown, at least - and equally fascinated with Kay's turn of phrase. I loved this duology, but I think it was perhaps somewhat poorly paced - this volume is very slow, and unless the reader is able to stop looking for much in the way of plot advancement and instead simply enjoy the prose, it might seem somewhat tedious. The payoff is worth it, though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good, I would totally recommend this story . I enjoyed the literary challenge of the way it was written. Of corse I read #2 before #1. I didn't know it was a series . Oh well ...
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tearoseLP More than 1 year ago
read it and enjoy
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