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A Song for Arbonne Paperback – 4 Oct 1993

4.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Paperback, 4 Oct 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; New edition edition (4 Oct. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0586216774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586216774
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 3.7 x 11.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,467,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay was born and raised in Canada. In 1974-5 he spent a year in Oxford assisting Christopher Tolkien in his editorial construction of J R R Tolkien's posthumously published THE SILMARILLION. He took a law degree at the University of Toronto on his return to Canada and was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1981. Guy Gavriel Kay lives in Toronto

Product Description


‘For anyone who appreciates that rarest of literary treasures: the ideal novel.’
Charles de Lint.

“This panoramic, absorbing novel beautifully creates an alternate version of the medieval world of love and music, magic and death.”
Publishers Weekly.
“A richly ornamented and tightly woven tapestry… War, love, assassination, deception, kindness, heroism, loyalty, friendship, and magic mix…in startling, unexpected, and satisfying ways.”

“An exhilarating epic…a powerful tale of great events in a richly drawn magical kingdom.”
Kirkus Reviews.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"Go and discover this grand book for yourself…Kay encompasses a greater sweep of history, passions and full-realized lives within the space of one big volume than most authors could pack into a trilogy"

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First Sentence
Anselme, who has ever been acknowledged as the first and perhaps the greatest of all the troubadours of Arbonne, was of modest birth, the youngest son of a clerk in the castle of a baron near Cauvas. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 10 July 1999
Format: Paperback
I have greatly enjoyed Guy Gavriel Kay's writing, and even found "The Fionavar Tapestry" engaging, if not equal to his later, more mature work. Kay is certainly one of the best and most original writers fantasy has to offer, and this work remains a favorite. Like "The Lions of Al-Rassan" and "Sailing to Sarantium ", the story is loosely based upon a historical period and culture, in this case the troubadour era of Mediterranean Europe. Kay interweaves his tale with the customs of medieval knighthood as well as the conflicting worship of a patriarchal sun god and an older, magical veneration of a goddess familiar to anyone having studied Robert Graves. Interlaced into these plot motifs are elements of court intrigue, mystery, and familial skeletons in the closet. Yet out of this seeming disparate stew Kay is able to distill a complicated tale of conflict that is not only believable but attains a life of its own. Unlike much fantasy fiction, the characterization is mature and complex, both in thought and motivation, and Kay's characters evolve with the story. Further, neither the plot nor the players always follow what is expected, yet at no time does the action become contrived or a stretch of one's credulity. Kay obviously loves the unforeseen twist, and cleverly calls it to use. And I think you'll find the aftermath to "A Song for Arbonne" an unsuspected delight.
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Format: Paperback
Arbonne, a fantasy land based loosely on the lands and troubadour culture of Medieval Aquitaine and neighboring states, faces a threat from the country that lies on its Northern borders, Gorhaut. As war draws nears the Arbonnaise are forced to prove their worth, despite their reputation for effeminacy and gentleness...

I have only read this one book by the author but am now looking forward to reading many more! This novel has it all: a deliciously evil villain, ancient feuds, family tensions, fights to the death, carnivals, assassinations and some very compelling female protagonists. The pacing is simply excellent, the characterization is mature and believable - we really see some of our central protagonists grow and learn. It is the Arbonnaisde women, whose rule over their knights is so hateful to masculine Gorhaut, who are particularly fascinating. Although this book is stand alone it feels almost like Kay has expressed succinctly what most authors would put into a trilogy, and the book is the richer for it. The swift sequence of events keeps your attention, dialogue is snappy but does not suffer, as many fantasy authors do, from anachronisms or jarring quotes (George R R Martin's use of a bible verse in his Song of Ice and Fire trilogy nearly made me hurl the book away in disgust).

For those interested in Medieval Europe, it is fascinating to match places and characters with real life inspirations - Portezza is surely Italy,and the saucy and incestuous Lucianna Delonghi is surely modelled on Lucrezia Borgia (or the more lurid tales spread about her). despite these similarities, the world Kay has constructed is comprehensive and stands very well on its own. This is a fantastic book, well written, amusing and intriguing. A must for anyone looking for an escape to fantasy which doesn't entail a five to ten book series and endless waits for authors to publish the next installment.
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Format: Paperback
I had read GGK's fantasy Fionavar Tapestry series at school and had enjoyed it, but it was only many years later I discovered that Kay had written this series of alternative history/historical fantasy novels. The first one I bought and read on a whim was this book.

If I had reviewed it right at the time, when I was heavily into straight fantasy and knew little of the wondrous mix of history and fantasy that is possible, I would still have given it four stars plus.

The characters in the novel stood out for me; particularly Blaise de Gorsenc and his brother Ranulf. I spent most of the book, once I had become lodged in its pages, shouting at the pair to sort themselves and their family problems out and then everything could work out. I since, having read Kay's other novels, realise that this is a key element to his novels and one of the things that makes them priceless to me.

Years on, I have read it several times, and every time I do so, I would add a star. It should now rate about eight out of five. Although at first reading I have found others of his works to surpass this, whenever I look back over the whole bunch, it is 'Song' that brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye.

Cannot recommend it enough. Buy it or be forever missing something.
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Format: Paperback
In my humble opinion, Guy Gavriel Kay's best book. Believe me, that is no small compliment because Kay's books are all wonderful. A Song for Arbonne, though, is my personal favorite. It is a book filled with passion and guaranteed to bring tears to the reader's eyes. The writing is beautiful and the story is brilliantly executed. A MUST for anyone's collection.
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Format: Paperback
So far I have simply loved Kay's alternative history novels. A Song for Arbonne is no exception to the rule: it's an excellent story. Set in beautiful Arbonne, the book's actual historical setting is the medieval France of the troubadours. Arbonne is ruled by women, full of music and courtly love, while the northern Gorhaut is an extremely masculine country bent on war.

One can guess what happens with a setting like that. However, despite that, the story manages to be surprising and full of unexpected twists. The characters are many-faceted and full of life. The plot makes sense and packs in plenty of action, intrigue and romance. Religion plays a big role, as does family.

Kay is a master: A Song for Arbonne is another fine story well told. Even though the book is labeled fantasy, there is very little supernatural in it, so as long as one is interested in medieval themes, even those who dislike most fantasy books will be able to enjoy this one.
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