on 3 August 2011
Reading one of Guy Gavriel Kay's books is always a special event for me. I have to put everything else aside, sit down and lose myself in his world. His wonderfully lyrical writing style always takes me a few pages to get my head around, because it is so different, eloquent and - imo - so superior to other writers in the genre. He paints pictures with words yet not a word is wasted, and every one goes towards building character or atmosphere or a sense of time and place. Another thing I like about GGK is that, although he writes in the fantasy genre, most of his books are stand-alone novels that require no prior knowledge to be enjoyed, even though many of them are set in the same world (but in different regions). This is not high fantasy, or even epic fantasy, though, so be warned. This is historical fantasy, and Kay's evocative writing is perfectly suited to this sub-genre.
A Song for Arbonne is another jewel in his crown, I think. It is his version of Medieval France, starting 23 years before the main text as the heir to the country's throne rides out to meet with her lover, and then jumping ahead to tell of the subsequent feud between her husband and lover, interweaving this with religious intolerance and political struggles between the Arbonnais and the neighbouring Gorhautians. It tells of the troubadour culture, and how they moved freely between the powers, spying and lending their services in many other ways. As always, GGK keeps the action on focused on his characters (who are - again - wonderful) and builds layer upon layer of complexity into their relationships which always has some emotional pay-off in the end. There is romance and intrigue, excitement and humour, and one particular large scale battle which is handled superbly.
Along with the genius of Steven Erikson, Kay is fast becoming my favourite author, and this is just another wonderful novel, which deserves to be ranked alongside his brilliant Tigana, and The Lions of Al-Rassan.
on 21 May 2015
I actually started reading this book 20 years or so ago but for some undetermined and totally unfathomable reason I didn't finish it. Perhaps I was too busy being a parent helping to raise our three children. Perhaps I was too involved in my career. I'm sure those two reasons were part of it but I think that what really contributed the most was a real bad case of Muse envy. My Muse was just beginning to awaken after a long dormant period and I was beginning to do a little writing around the time I was reading A Song for Arbonne and my Muse was so shaken by the immaculately flowing style of the author that she, through her envy, forced me to stop reading it. Since then, however, my Muse has matured enough to admit that she will most likely never attain the high standards of Mr. Kay and the brilliant Muse who inspires him, so, it was okay to read the book. This feeling was enhanced by a conversation, of the social media variety, with one of my favorite authors, SJA Turney in which he, in a not so mild a suggestion, implored me to give it another go as this book was his favorite of all time and had done much to set him on the path to becoming an author.
So, dear reader, what did I find the second time around? A masterful bit of storytelling full of great characters and a plot that kept me mesmerized throughout as it wove around and through the fabric of human emotions. One thing I realized about a third of the way through was that I basically knew the path the character of Blaise de Garsenc was going to take to become who I imagined he would be in the end. However, what I could not imagine was the many different forks that path would take, a long, winding and entertaining road indeed. As to this being a work of fantasy, it does, after all, feature an earth with two moons, it is also a work of real history as well,especially in the way the author portrays the misuse of religious power and the dangers inherent in that type of elitist exclusivity. To me it calls to mind the Crusading Popes and the modern Islamic jihadists. One thing that is certain is that I am in awe of the writing acumen of Mr. Kay and will certainly be adding his other works to my ever growing "to be read" pile.
5 stars for this brilliant and beautifully written book.
on 3 July 2011
I have read most of GGK's work and have plans to read the rest. This has been thus far my favourite; beautifully written and very absorbing. I highly recommend this author in general and this book in particular.
on 23 November 2013
I haven't finished reading it yet. It's one of those books where you just don't want to come to the end. A brilliant, imaginative tale, with awesome characters. I never thought I would take to a book which had, as its' main theme, troubadors writing and performing songs as a means of making a living. How wrong I was! Since I discovered GGK some six months ago, completely by chance, I have bought seven of his books. My next one to read is The Last Light Of The Sun, awaiting me on my bookcase. A truly great author.
on 28 January 2012
This is the second book I have read by GGK, after Tigana, and I have to say I enjoyed A Song for Arbonne just as much as Tigana (although in hindsight I was probably being a bit harsh only rating Tigana 4 out of 5 stars). If you like constant fighting and battles this book is probably not for you but for well developed, and sometimes tragic, characters this book is hard to beat.
Once again, highly recommended.
on 27 May 2016
You know with Kay that you'll get a beautifully written story. This is one of his earliest and, for my money, his best still.
I have seen Kay come top in polls asking what male authors in the fantasy genre write best for women. This story is moving and intricate. Compelling and moving. It's chunky, but it's worth the aching fingers.
Thoughtful, emotional fantasy at it's best.
on 20 August 2013
Thanks to comments on a Forum, I found this author and book by chance after exhausting all other Fantasy authors over the last few years.
This is so well written and absorbing I can't wait to reach the end of the book, thankfully I have it on my kindle or I'd be tempted [mind you only tempted to read the end now].
on 12 December 2012
One of my favourite books ever, great mix of characters and story with a fantastic sense of place. I have read all Kay's work and this is by far the best and deserves a follow up as there are many more tales to be told from Arbonne.
on 2 July 2012
I love GGK as a writer,I've read most of his books,and this one is especially good. I love the way he introduces his characacters, letting the reader get to know their background stories while leading them into the story.
on 10 September 2013
I love G.G.K. and this book is no exception. The book opens by introducing several characters and really gets you involved. the twists are unexpected but bring the 'of course' reaction as the clues were there - read it