British Fiction Focus

Legends Emerge: Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

As we close in on the conclusion of 2015, there’s been a lot of looking back, and I shouldn’t wonder if there was much more to come before it’s all over and done… but today, I want you folks to face forward.

Just a glimmer of a glance at what we’ll see in the first few months of 2016 gives every indication it’s going to be another good year for genre fiction. With the last volume of Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin novels in March, Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie out in April, The Fireman by Joe Hill in May, and all this bracketed by books by China Mieville—namely This Census-Taker in February and Last Days in Paris come the summer—I believe you’d be hard pressed to disagree. But amongst this embarrassment of potential fictional riches, the crown jewel, if you ask me, has to be Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay. It’s a novel we’ve known was coming for some time, but this week, Hodder gave us a good, long look at it.

“A towering achievement that will delight fans and new readers alike,” according to Hodder, Children of Earth and Sky chronicles Kay’s return to the ripe era of the Renaissance:

When the world is divided between those who worship the stars and those who worship the sun… when the balance of power is shifting and the City of Cities has fallen… when men and women are caught up in in the vortex of war… in extraordinary times, no lives are untouched, legends emerge.

Danica Gradek, from a walled town of pirates—who joins a sea-raid filled with a long desire for vengeance. The merchant Marin Djivo who will keep his head when others lose theirs. Leonora Valeri forced to be a spy, destined for something very different. Pero Villani travelling east to paint the world’s most powerful man, and perhaps do more…

They will all be tempered and tested in war-torn lands that lie between the silver city on its lagoon to the west and the thrice-walled golden city in the east. Their lives will intersect, history will change.

The cover art revealed this week is by one Ben Summers, “who also designed the award-nominated cover for A Man Lies Dreaming and [Hodder’s] recent Tad Williams reissues.” The piece is described in the press release as “radiant”—

Children-of-Earth-and-Sky-UK

—and it is, isn’t it?

As Kay said in a blog post on BrightWeavings, “Hodder and Stoughton, my new UK house, do not […] have the same rationale to ‘echo’ the previous books” as his American and Canadian publishers must, but Summer’s lovely cover certainly does echo the Larry Rostant art Kay was discussing, seen here in the header.

Keen to get his insight on this, I got in touch with the author, who was inducted into the Order of Canada for his services to Canadian literature last year, in the hopes of sharing what he had to say about Summers’ cover:

I’ve been very lucky most of the time (some exceptions can wake me at night!) with my covers, both in the English-language world and internationally. A small perk of being around a while, publishers do tend to give you input. Occasionally, of course it can be, “Give the author his ‘input,’ then just carry on, regardless,” but I haven’t had that happen in a long time. I daunt with my flashing eyes and floating hair.

I’m genuinely pleased with both my covers in the US/CANADA and in the UK. Some very talented people have brought their skills to bear and my editors know the book. Different considerations apply in different markets, but both of these please me a lot, and I knew they would, from when first discussions started.

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay is due out in the UK on the 12th of May.

Let me leave you with the words of editor Oliver Johnson, who acquired the aforementioned novel for Hodder, and whose feelings are very much in line with mine:

To bring a celebrated, legendary author like Guy Gavriel Kay to our list is a truly wonderful moment; an editor’s dream is to publish a writer he has long admired, and this couldn’t be more true for me than with Guy. Though we have no specific genre list we are very proud of our work at Hodder with books that cross the divides of genre as Guy does with his brilliantly written, erudite and deliciously imagined works of historical fantasy. Our hallmark is great writing without bounds and we know we have acquired exactly that in Guy’s new work.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and Tor.com. He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.

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