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Lord of Emperors

(The Sarantine Mosaic #2)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  11,585 ratings  ·  390 reviews
The Thrilling Sequel To Sailing To Sarantium

Beckoned by the Emperor Valerius, Crispin, a renowned mosaicist, has arrived in the fabled city of Sarantium. Here he seeks to fulfill his artistic ambitions and his destiny high upon a dome that will become the emerror's magnificent sanctuary and legacy.

But the beauty and solitude of his work cannot protect his from Sarantium's
Paperback, 560 pages
Published February 6th 2001 by Harper Voyager (first published February 11th 2000)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  11,585 ratings  ·  390 reviews

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Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*** 5 ***

A buddy read with the Kay Squad @ FBR, because sometimes we need something to feed the soul!!!

I am not going to beat around the bush. I have been melancholy. Many reasons, mostly Real Life is a B@#$h, and I have been struggling with reading anything. However, you know that moment while you are reading something and your soul gets heavier at first, then starts pulsing with life again and you realize you are reading something remarkable? This is what happened toward the end of this duolog
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
I was thinking for a long time what to write about this book. I let my emotions cool down a bit before I write anything because "OH MY GOOD THIS IS FUCKING GREAT" type of review seems out of character. After some consideration I decided that I mostly said everything in in my review of the first book but there is one big difference.

In that review I wrote:
Story is slow paced and not that eventful and without huge twists or tear jerking moments.
This doesn't apply here. Here we see story develop mu
Mayim de Vries
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So, how does one make a mosaic?

First, you mix quicklime for the setting bed. Then, you tend to it in the oven making sure the texture is just right. Once this has been accomplished, you lay it smoothly on the surface. Only then can you start placing the tesserae in the setting bed.

tes·ser·a (tĕs′ər-ə) n. pl. tes·ser·ae (tĕs′ə-rē′). One of the small squares of stone or glass used in making mosaic patterns.

The previous book in the duology accounts for first three steps (under the disguise of talk
This duology is a masterpiece. A contest between 4 and 5 stars for both books, but in the end, I think the immaculate ending sealed it for this one.

Full review to come.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
Lyrical, powerful and engaging since the beginning. The second part of this duet raises the stakes of this “game of countries” even higher, and the way the story's tapestry is woven is as exquisite as it could be expected, if not more.
Against the backdrop of "the city of performers, the heart of things", which has attracted so many people with different goals and desires, the characters meet, mingle, clash or form alliances, and layer after layer of deceptions, ambitions and dreams peels off wit

Lord of Emperors is another great example of Kay’s talent as in this book he has added much more characters and making a more complex story than the previous one, full with intrigues, machinations, betrayals and some great twists.

The story continues with Rustem, a physician from Bassania, as he is summoned by the King of Kings to save his life but to take also a mission to Sarantium that may well bring him to great danger and will, probably, may cost him his own life in the way. However, alo
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where to begin with this one??? I guess I should tell you that I was trying not to cry (without success) after reading the first 30 pages. I did in fact cry a little bit, which is extremely rare for me to do while reading. I shed some tears and then walked outside to get some fresh air. Suddenly people were asking me why my eyes were so bloodshot? I'd been discovered!!! Of course in defense of my manhood I had to lie and tell them that I was just tired and had been yawning a lot. I thought that ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
Buddy read with the Kay Squad from FBR

Duology review: 5 brilliant stars!!

My favourite Kay books so far. This duology is, simply put, a masterpiece!!

A wonderful homage to art, to women, to beauty and to love!

Kay's writing is elegant, almost poetic at times and rich beyond measure at others, matching the greatness and opulence of Sarantium. He will take you on a journey through which you will just have to pay attention to the road, having no clue whatsoever as to the destination. But it is all wo
Xara Niouraki
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Guy Gavriel Kay, you once again managed to break my heart in little pieces.
Jane Jago
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another re-read, but these books bear reading time and time again.

Crispin is one of the best realised heroes in modern fiction
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another really enjoyable read by Guy Gavriel Kay. Beautiful writing and a great story, the only thing that made me bring it down a star was that it annoyed me that it seemed like almost every woman in the book was in love with or desired Crispin. Come to think of it it was also some of the relationships in Tigana that made me bring that down a star as well, particularly one that just came out of the blue at the end.
Kat  Hooper
Sep 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook

Lord of Emperors is the second (and final) novel in Guy Gavriel Kay’s THE SARANTINE MOSAIC duology. The story, set in a pseudo-Byzantine Empire, mostly centers on Crispin, a mosaicist from a neighboring kingdom who’s been commissioned to decorate the ceiling of a new chapel the emperor is building. Against his wishes, Crispin has been drawn into the Sarantine court’s political intrigue. In this second installment, the political turmoil finally comes to a h
I'll cut to the chase, as I did with this sequel. I really, really wanted to be captivated with the elegant words and the characters, but I had to give up halfway and skim through. The truth is that personally, I believe that this book exceeds itself in length and suspense, and that the fact that most of the major, powerful female characters are intrigued by the protagonist is kind of incredible, in the literal sense. If the story had wrapped itself better and been concise, I'd loved it. By Jad, ...more
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book! I was really surprised and pleased that Part 2 of The Sarantine Mosaic was even better than the first Part! It was easy to figure out it was Kay's conception of a fantasy Byzantium. I'm so glad that not only did he concentrate on Crispin, the Rhodian [Roman] mosaicist but that there were fascinating subplots involving characters from the previous novel. I liked his introduction of a sympathetic Bassanid [Persian] physician, Rustem. Rustem had been sent as a spy by the King of Ki ...more
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a befitting sequel to Sailing to Sarantium! This book has lots of drama, twists and humour! It’s a perfect script for a fantasy television drama !


The prose is beautiful; simple yet vivid. The character development is intense; by the end of the book you’d know the characters in and out like you’ve known them forever.

So what did I not like? Same as book 1, all women characters (who were projected as standalone powerful characters) had a thing in common - using their sexuality as a weapon.
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, maps
Probably only a 4.5, but there are so few really good reads out there, that I'm giving Kay extra credit. ;-)

He completed a broad, subtle effort in just two books. (Not hard to see why it's peddled as four books in some locales.) Was concerned that the second volume was turning into a Peyton Place, but Kay got back on track with horse racing and bloody mayhem.

(Better cover art on other editions. Got the feeling this artist had never seen pictures of, let alone stood inside, Hagia Sophia in Ista
Puddin Pointy-Toes
Like with Under Heaven, I found the ending to a let-down. Kay seems to be desperate to wraps up every loose end, to close the book on the entire life of nearly every character you've come to care about, and sometimes the epilogue he writes for these characters is inadequte to their due. It's a shame, because I like a little mystery when a good book comes to a close: I enjoy being left wanting more, but Kay doesn't want to give me more, and is adverse to leaving the reader with room for speculati ...more
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Kay is a writer of great skill, one who is able to create a new world filled with believable,  lovable, characters, and delight the reader with descriptions that come to immediate life in the mind’s eye, while showing the perfect restraint of the true artist. 
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A long sleepy story occasionally punctuated with interesting events. I'm not sure what Guy Gavriel Kay was trying to capture when writing The Sarantine Mosaic, unfortunately it wasn't my engrossed attention. Entirely too much narrative throughout both volumes with an ending that collapsed upon itself with a silent thud. The story itself isn't without merit. I think there could have been so much done with this. Perhaps there was just too much and too many characters put into too few pages. Each c ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, empire
The second book of the Sarantine Mosaic. We follow the potential war between cities, the chariot races underlying the tension between Blues and Greens, and of course the characters that are trying to stay afloat and survive in their daily lives.

I almost hate that it ended so well because it makes me really want to give 3 stars when I feel like it only deserved 1 or maybe 2 around the middle of the book. I seriously almost dnf around page 200 (about 50%) of the book because it got so boring and a
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Guy Gavriel Kay is amazing. Seriously, amazing. He never fails to move me.

After finishing Sailing to Sarantium, I said in my review that I wouldn't know how I felt about The Sarantine Mosaic until I finished Lord of Emperors. Having now finished it (obviously, hence this review), I have to say... Wow. This book was just.. Amazing. From beginning to end, I loved it. There were so many heart wrenching moments, beautifully written, that just drilled into the core of me and left me speechless. I kn
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've decided there is nothing quite like reading Guy Gavriel Kay. There's nothing quite like the feeling I've had after finishing the last words of two of his intricate stories: sorrow, sure; a bit of residual anger over the unfairness of things, this lingers; peace, overwhelmingly so.

Experiencing the way he pulls the threads of another magnificent story to their conclusion is truly remarkable. Somehow he is both able to surprise me and able to make me say, "Of course." and "How could it be anyt
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Guy Gavriel Kay certainly kept me turning the pages on this wrap-up to his Sarantine Mosaic duo. We're introduced to a few more wonderful characters like the charming, indomitable, and convoluted young-old soul, Scortius, the champion charioteer of the Blues. And he deepens and revisits old characters thoroughly as well. Though the plot thickens and the entire last third of the book is an intricate, hair-pin turn denouement of sorts, this second book is as much about character development as the ...more
Stephen Burns
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Tremendous follow up to Kay's SAILING TO SARANTIUM. This is historical/fantasy fiction at its finest. It is not, however, "true" fantasy, though I say that with some trepidation. In LORD OF EMPERORS, Kay documents the Byzantine Empire and its changes, sometimes quoting directly from the history books and putting those quotes in the mouths of his fictionalized-but-real historical figures. Best thing I can say about this novel, having read the two part series, is that when I finished the book, I c ...more
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, fantasy
So very good. Like all of his books, the reader is transported to a rich world, patterned on a real segment of history.
Kevin Wei
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it


With Lord of Emperors, Guy Gavriel Kay brings his THE SARANTINE MOSAIC duology to a brilliant conclusion. The sequel to Sailing to Sarantium, Lord of Emperors continues to follow the life of Caius Crispus (Crispin), a mosaicist from the fallen Western empire who is called to Sarantium. Although Crispin repeatedly notes that he is but a mere artist, he is dragged into the world of the court and political intrigue against his wi
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, canadian
Lord of Emperors brings the great characters and the great world of Sailing to Sarantium (my review) and adds so much more, in this conclusion to Guy Gavriel Kay's Sarantine Mosaic.

The characters are pretty much the same as the first book. The addition of Rustem, a doctor, introduces us to the Bassanid (Muslim like culture) and has much to do in the book. With all of the worldbuilding in the first book, there isn't much new introduced. But there are more magical allusions made that speak to more
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I enjoyed Sailing to Sarantium, and its sequel is even better.
To me this story is about the relationship between art and life, about (re)creating life through art. Kay also takes us along
as Crispin begins to heal after the loss of his daughters and wife.

(view spoiler)
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books where you can´t stop flipping pages, but feel an intense, but bittersweet sorrow when it ends, and need to reflect on what you just read before even thinking about reading something else.

Deeply insightful, as most of Kay´s works, Sarantine Mosaic lives up to it´s name in many different levels. On one hand the main protagonist is a Mosaic worker, but on the other the whole story consist of a lot of pieces that form a big picture in the end. Small things, seeming mundane
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It is not very rare that book's ending bring me to tears, but somehow I feel I was moved beyond what I usually feel because I had grown so attached to certain characters.

I loved this book more than the first. Found it more engaging (probably thanks to the first book) and towards the end I couldn't really stop.

This was something very different from the fantasy I usually read, but I have to say that I honestly enjoyed the journey.

And I will probably return.
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2020 Reading Chal...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Lord of Emperors (Sarantine Mosiac #2) 19 22 Mar 18, 2020 04:13PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Lord of Emperors [September 2017] 87 65 Oct 03, 2017 07:56AM  

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Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction. Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid. Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy, though the author himself has expressed a preference to shy away from genre categoriz ...more

Other books in the series

The Sarantine Mosaic (2 books)
  • Sailing to Sarantium (The Sarantine Mosaic, #1)

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