Category Archives: 2022 Book Reviews

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 109: All The Seas Of The World by Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay has joined my short list of favorite authors, that includes Jorge Amado, Octavia Butler, Jonathan Carroll, Charles de Lint, Mark Helprin, Haruki Murakami, & Robert Silverberg.  I have read quite a bit of each author’s oeuvre and this my sixth Kay novel so far.

“In some places, times, the writer of a story might use ink, inkstone, brush to shape her telling. There are other ways, other times.

Sometimes the tale offered is of the lives and deaths of those deemed powerful. And sometimes it is about men and women trying as best they can to live, shape lives, despite the loss of a home, roots, origins, a sense of where they might belong.

Stories are, as much as anything else, an act of love.”

This is from the last page of Kay’s latest novel, All The Seas of The World, and a great explanation of what a story is. All The Seas Of The World is a story of assassination, tragedy, redemption, and the whims of fate. This novel is set in the same world as Kay’s previous two releases, Children of Earth & Sky and A Brightness Long Ago. Kay has created a reimagined Europe where he can explore culture on a large and small scale without being tied down to the facts of European history.

All the Seas of the World is set some years following A Brightness Long Ago and about two decades prior to Children of Earth and Sky. The story revolves around two main protagonists. One is Rafel ben Natan, a Kindath merchant and sometimes corsair with various identities because of his faith. The other is Lenia, a young woman who was abducted by Asharite corsairs as a child and turned into a slave. Now that she has escaped, Lenia is determined to get vengeance upon those who have wronged her. Kay weaves a large cast of supporting characters to carry forth the story. But Rafel and Lenia’s journey remains at the center of the novel.

It took me about fifty or sixty pages to settle into Kay’s latest novel.  He is not a writer that provides a quick or straightforward conclusion to his stories. Kay demands that you trust him to carry you along until the story’s conclusion.  If you are an impatient reader or like stories that get to the point, then I would not recommend this novel.  Or any of Kay’s prior novels.  In a world of quick consumption, Kay is the antithesis from a fictional standpoint.

However, if you are patient and willing to trust the author, then you will be rewarded with a depth and characterization that are some of the best fantasy fiction has to offer.  All The Seas Of The World can be read as a standalone novel, but I feel the prior aforementioned novels should be read too. Kay has developed a world unlike anything I have read in fantasy outside of N.K. Jemisin and deserves to be a writer read by both genre and literary fiction readers.  All The Seas Of The World is a very good Kay novel.  Not his best, but one deserving a close look of historical fantasy that is unique to modern imaginative literature.

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 108: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Have you ever read a novel where you hated the main character but found the story compelling? Have you ever read a novel where you loathed the main character’s lifestyle choices but can still find compassion in those choices? Have you ever read a novel you did not like where the boundaries of love were… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 107: Celia: Mi Vida by Celia Cruz & Ana Cristina Reymundo

As a music lover, there are some songs you hear and immediately make you want to dance. Even if you cannot dance, the song commands you to move your body to the beat.  The Queen of Salsa (La Reina de la Salsa), Celia Cruz, has many songs that fit the prior description.  Every time, I… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Story Review 11: Come Home to Atropos by Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes writes a sarcastic, charming story that comes as an infomercial, designed to attract rich white folks who want to end their lives in paradise on a Caribbean island. However, the story reveals the illusion underneath. Travel to exotic lands always appears as the ultimate escape, but Come Home To Atropos pierces that fantasy… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 106: Leviathan by Paul Auster

What is friendship?  Especially what is male friendship? Paul Auster gives us an answer in his novel, Leviathan. Leviathan is an Old Testament reference meaning a dragon-like monster, serpent or even a crocodile that represents evil. While, Auster’s novel is not biblical or religious on the surface, there is definitely a strong philosophical underpinning that… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 105: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Have you ever read a book that you knew instantly you should have read years ago? I knew it after reading the first chapter of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I was working at a mom-and-pop bookstore in Santa Fe, NM in 1996 when this novel was published. I remembered the sales rep from… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 104: Angel On My Shoulder by Natalie Cole

“As you walk your own journey, keep your eyes open, listen well, and if you look real hard, you just might find an angel on your shoulder.” Those words are from the last paragraph of the late Natalie Cole’s autobiography, Angel On My Shoulder published November 2000, fifteen years before her death in December 2015. … Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 103: Queen of Angels by Greg Bear

Queen of Angels by Greg Bear has been a book I’ve wanted to read for years. I’ve seen it at used bookstores and bought it several times intending to read the book but never get around to it until recently. Queen of Angels is an ambitious, thought-provoking science-fiction novel that deals with race, crime, religion,… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 102: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

When I heard that Ray Bradbury had passed in 2012, I realized that I had never read any of his books. Wow, that surprised me. Well, in honor of his passing, I decided to read his most popular and enduring work, Fahrenheit 451. “Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 101: The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson

The Opposite of Art is the story of the genius artist, Sheridan Ridler, who is known for painting nudes without faces. Ridler gets quite a reputation in the art world as a cad to the ladies and an arrogant jerk to everyone else that comes in contact with him. Well, he has an accident at… Continue Reading