The characters I related to best surprised me in this second half of the Sarantine Mosaic duology. I wept more than once for a chariot racer and for an obsessed, vengeful woman. Crispan, through whose eyes most of this tale was viewed, did not touch any of my heart strings. Both this novel, and it's predecessor, included phenomenal chapters filled with thundering horses hooves, dust and crashing chariots ... just a pleasant day at the Hippodrome races. My heart thudded in my chest as I read and imagined the tumult that surged around the Spina. The true wonder pirouetted in an Emperor's coveted private walk through a connecting tunnel deep underground, far from the roar of the masses and the intrigues of his Court ... Kay had me rushing headlong through hundreds of pages, thousands upon thousands of words to reach this quiet moment. Yet he made me pause, draw back, draw up, high as a mosaicist on a scaffold, and look down at the turning away, at the hiccup of history that brought all visions of legacy tinkling down to be ground to dust under the heels of hatred. Honestly, I had to give myself a break at this point. I knew, in my heart, the unraveling had begun, the corruption and destruction expanding outward swift as an earthquake's finger-like fissures. Though I wondered throughout both novels which woman Crispin would finally connect with and eventually marry, I knew completely the moment when a former actress and dancer asked Crispin the achingly desperate question 'How did you go on living?' - a reference to the death of his wife and daughters to the plague. Kay left us to guess which woman met him under the Sanctuary's dome at the end of Sailing to Sarantium, but he left no doubt at the end of Lord of Emperors. Alixana and Crispin found a reason to go on living, chasing away the leaping dolphins with dreams of children and peace in the west, out of the ruins of old Empires, broken hearts and shattered lives.