Just finished A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay

kauldron26

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Just finished this magnificent novel... my review?? lets just say that im just grateful that God gave us Guy Gavriel Kay...
 

kauldron26

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read Tigana loved it as well. i dont know which one i like better... that last passage about Lisseut broke my heart many times over...
 

Clansman

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As I have said before, Kay writes some of the most beautiful books ever. They are so incredibly evocative of feelings, that the experience cannot really be described.

kauldron26, do yourself a favour and pick up The Lions of Al-Rassan. The Sarantine Mosaic is also good, as is Last Light of the Sun. The Fionavar Tapestry is quite different from the rest of Kay's body of work, it was his first, and it deals with a lot of common fantasy themes. Avoid Ysabel, at least until it is out in paperback. The only disappointment I have had from him.

Kay also enjoys joint-editorship credits of The Silmarillion with Christopher Tolkien.
 

Werthead

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Kay also enjoys joint-editorship credits of The Silmarillion with Christopher Tolkien.
On about 5-6 chapters at the end, yep. Kay's work on The Silmarillion is sometimes overstated. He only helped out a little and never to the degree of what CT did elsewhere on the book (which is why Kay is only acknowledged as an assistant editor and his name isn't on the cover).

Interestingly, though, Kay's work includes those chapters at the end that Tolkien never revised from his earliest 1910s and 1920s drafts, meaning that whatever 'new' material there is in the whole book (which isn't a lot) is much more likely to be Kay's than CT's. So in that sense Kay is the only non-Tolkien family member ever authorised to create new Middle-earth material (albeit just a few lines here and there).
 

Grunkins

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I just started this today, and after only the prologue, I'm already in love with it. He's one of my favorites.
 

Grunkins

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Just finished it. Typically gorgeous. He's quickly becoming my favorite author.
 

Sekt

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Just finished it. Typically gorgeous. He's quickly becoming my favorite author.
Same, without a doubt. The quality of his prose is amazing, and the human element is always so strong.

Where I feel Kay truly shines though is in his brilliant building of tension and its subsequent fulfillment. There are very few authors I can think of who've had me so glued to a page as Kay. The boat race in Song, and the chariot races in Sarantium are the perfect examples.
 

digs

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He's my favourite fantasy author by far. In a way, all his books deal with cultures that are on the brink of some immense change; I love how he deals with the beauty and sadness of the loss of the old and the acceptance of the new. For me, Al-Rassan, Arbonne and The Sarantine Mosaic are tied as my favourites. Like Clansman I was disappointed by Ysabel, and I wasn't that great a fan of Fionavar.
 

Finnien

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Ysabel would be a very good story by another author, but it lacked the scope and depth that I've come to expect from Kay. Fionavar was early, rough, and not very good. Everything else he's written I've loved. Arbonne, Sarantine Mosaic and Tigaine were my favorites for story and characters, but Last Light of the Sun and Under Heaven were powerful and intriguing for their world and society - great in a slightly different way.

GGK is the kind of extremely rare, extremely precious author who leaves me amazed at his work, and envious of a writing talent leagues beyond anything I can imagine having.
 

williamjm

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Ysabel would be a very good story by another author, but it lacked the scope and depth that I've come to expect from Kay.
Ysabel felt a bit like Kay trying to write a young-adult novel. I liked it, but I agree it's one of his lesser works.
 

Chel

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I just finished A Song for Arbonne again. It's the third of fourth time I read it, and, thanks to my horribly bad memory, it felt like the first time.

And as always when I finish one of GGK's books, I feel as if something precious has been taken away from me. I feel lost. Where can I go from here? What can I read after this that won't feel bland and uninvolved?

Why can't everyone write like Kay? Why can't I?
 

Brian G Turner

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Just finished this and wasn't at all taken with it. I managed to read it to the end, but didn't enjoy it.

I think my biggest problem is the distance with the characters - GGK has a narrative voice that takes you close to the characters, but refuses to acknowledge huge and important things about them. When they are revealed later I think they are supposed to read as clever, but I just found the characters read more as dishonest about themselves.

Also, when his characters - for example, Blaise - faces major tests of character, that will put him through his greatest conflicts - instead of getting close and seeing that, instead GGK creates a completely irrelevant character whose only purpose is to "overhear" a conversation or simply "observe" the character doing it. I mean, seriously, Blaise encounters his family for the first time in years, and what do we get? Theune, a character with no personality, background, motivation, or even ideas, simply appears so we can observe Blaise through this empty proxy, and thus avoid experiencing Blaise's moment of greatest conflict to that point.

I really don't understand why GGK refuses to engage us properly and emotionally with his characters??

GGK writes with a kind of buttery voice I can appreciate, but beyond that, the world building here was weak, the story all too easy to rip apart, and the characters were never fully formed.
 

Coragem

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Just finished this and wasn't at all taken with it.
Brian, I think you read a different book! The music, the culture, the location, the action, most of all the characters – all truly special.

Where we don't see into character's heads, I believe Kay had his reasons. E.g., to maintain the mystery re. Bertran; to show Bertran's private nature.

For me this is equal to Kay's best. An improvement on Tigana.

Coragem.
 

Brian G Turner

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I don't mind accepting that I'm a hyper critical reader at the moment - especially when it comes to using Third Person to really show conflict within a character - something GGK seems to shy away from, though to be fair he uses an omniscient narrator that usually keeps close to a character.
 

Grunkins

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He uses all the tools in the toolbox. There was one passage in A Song for Arbonne where he starts off a paragraph in 3rd limited past tense, then is in 3rd omniscient past tense at the end of it, then immediately jumps to 2nd future tense(!). And it all works.
 
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