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Ysabel Paperback – 5 Mar 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (5 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743252500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743252508
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,526,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Praise for Ysabel
"Stylish...vivid and satisfying with moments of sublime eeriness."--Washington Post
"Evocative writing ... fascinating characters ... will enthrall mainstream as well as fantasy readers."
--Publisher's Weekly
"Ysabel is the child of Kay's long love affair with Provence, the sunny, haunted region in the south of France which has enspelled him as it has so many... Kay knows this world intimately, and he presents it with a fresh, deft hand...everything fits."--Locus
Praise for the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay


"[Read] anything by Guy Gavriel Kay... His strengths are strong characters and fantastic set pieces."--The New Yorker
"History and fantasy rarely come together as gracefully or readably as they do in the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay."--The Washington Post Book World
"Kay is a genius. I've read him all my life and am always inspired by his work."--#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson
"A storyteller on the grandest scale."--Time Magazine, Canada

Praise for Ysabel
-Stylish...vivid and satisfying with moments of sublime eeriness.---Washington Post
-Evocative writing ... fascinating characters ... will enthrall mainstream as well as fantasy readers.-
--Publisher's Weekly
-Ysabel is the child of Kay's long love affair with Provence, the sunny, haunted region in the south of France which has enspelled him as it has so many... Kay knows this world intimately, and he presents it with a fresh, deft hand...everything fits.---Locus
Praise for the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay


-[Read] anything by Guy Gavriel Kay... His strengths are strong characters and fantastic set pieces.---The New Yorker
-History and fantasy rarely come together as gracefully or readably as they do in the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay.---The Washington Post Book World
-Kay is a genius. I've read him all my life and am always inspired by his work.---#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson
-A storyteller on the grandest scale.---Time Magazine, Canada --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay's unique take on historical fiction has won him legions of admirers and made him an international bestseller. He is the author of nine highly acclaimed novels, including THE SARANTINE MOSAIC books and the acclaimed TIGANA. At the age of 20, he was asked by the Tolkien estate to help Christopher Tolkien with the editing of the Silmarrillion - the first and only time the estate has ever made such a request. His work has been translated into 21 languages, and he has twice won the Aurora Prize, is a three-time World Fantasy Award nominee, and is the recipient of the International Goliardos Prize for his contributions to the literature of the fantastic. Guy Gavriel Kay lives in Toronto. Visit his website, www.brightweavings.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an odd book to write a review for. The number of people and reviews that refer to it as the weakest of Kay's books, or not as good as his other work was almost universal, so I went in not expecting anything stellar, although it needs to be said that even a bad Kay book is going to be better than the majority of other fantasy on the market.

Maybe it is because it took me so long to read it (over 2 months!)but I really enjoyed it, a lot, lot more than I thought I would have done.

The story is that of a young man working in the south of France with his father. But he is drawn into a conflict between two men; not just any men though but two men who have been born time and again over thousands of years, each time to fight one another for the love of an equally ancient woman.

The story is entwined with ancient history and Celtic mythology, a mystery that needs to be solved, and one that becomes more intense as a friend is drawn into it, apparently lost to the world.

In many ways it is very different to all of Kay's other work; most of that is based in fantasy world; worlds that have strong connotations to the real world, drawing on genuine historical situations and twisting them into a slightly different, warped image of what was.

This works in a different way, taking the real world and twisting it slightly, and that is what might make it the least popular of Kay's works.

However, maybe it is being force to linger on it that made me enjoy it more, or perhaps it was just something in the story that appalled to me, but I thought it was up there with the best of Kay.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read several books by Guy Gavriel Kay including the wonderful Fionavar Trilogy over a decade ago, I looked forward to reading Ysabel. I was not disappointed. The book engaged from page 1 and the teenage lead character did not put me off at all (he's just not the annoying sort of teenager). The story takes place in the here and now and the south of France is beautifully described and the plot zings along with interesting twists.( I have to own up to taking a while to working out who Aunt Kim and Uncle Dave were...I had a 'duh!' moment when I did! ) I read it twice in quick succession and couldn't put it down either time.I found it beautifully crafted and wanted to read more
If you have read any of Kay's other books you won't regret reading this.
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Format: Paperback
I am a huge fan of GGK's work, though looked forward to this book with a little trepidation as I am not such a huge fan of teenage boys! I had recently read Robin McKinley's Dragonhaven (a very different book!), which has a teenage boy narrator, and found it heavy going. But Ned Marriner has a likeable personality, realistic but not annoying, and is a sympathetic viewpoint character. I especially enjoyed the dynamic between him and the adults around him, as he seeks both their support and his independence.

Provence is gloriously depicted, and the rented villa sounds idyllic! Into this paradise come violent events from prehistory, as mysterious figures loom, appear and threaten. There are violent scenes, but things never get as dark as, say, the events of Fionavar. I don't feel this is a bad thing though, as the characters and atmosphere are all as strong as one expects from Kay.

Many readers seem to have been disappointed by this book, and to be sure, it is not in the same class as Fionavar or Sarantium. But Kay is doing something different here, looking at the invasion of the distant past into our modern world, and the effect this has on a couple of teenagers and those who seek to protect them. As such, I think he succeeds admirably in showing how they are all forced to change their assumptions and broaden their horizons, as well as writing a thoroughly compelling story. This book could appeal to a younger audience than is usual for Kay's writing, which can only be a good thing for his continuing popularity.
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Format: Paperback
I, too, look forward eagerly to each new GGK book release and the latest was no exception.

However, despite his usual mastery of language and some gorgeous descriptions of the area around Provence, I found it hard to connect with the characters in this book. When you look at the depth of characterisation in some of his other work (The Lions of Al-Rassan or Tigana for example), it really brings home how most of the protagonists are only lightly drawn with the broadest of strokes.

Sadly, the plot also felt a little on the light side - a lot of questions were raised but then many allowed to fall by the wayside and ignored. Perhaps Kay was having too good a time researching in Provence to focus to the level he is capable of?!

Still, that said, it's still an enjoyable read but if this is your first foray into Kay's work, you might prefer to start with some of his earlier works instead to get a true impression of what he's capable of.
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By H. Ashford VINE VOICE on 1 July 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read Ysabel because it was chosen for my sci-fi reading group. Kay is not an author I had read before, but was highly recommended by one member of the group. We were aware that some of his other books have better reviews than this one, but we wanted to read a standalone book (the problem with reading one of a set is that then you want to read the rest ... and there are only so many weeks in a year!), and a recent one, so Ysabel was chosen.

Personally I enjoyed reading this book. I liked the setting in beautiful and historic Provence – I thought that came across well – and the fast pace. I read a lot in the Young Adult genre, and as a YA “coming of age” story this book would score quite highly.

However, as a fantasy novel aimed at adults – it just fails. The love triangle around Ysabel lacks depth and the plot stretches credibility. Ned comes across as a college student (not as a 15 year old boy) and the attempts to tie him to his classroom back home are really clumsy. Most disappointing of all was the way the supernatural elements are handled. There is so much scope there, so much possibility, but Kay reduces it to a mundane power struggle between two love-struck men.

I gave it 2½*s (rounded up to 3) because I like YA books, and I enjoyed reading it. But I was by far the highest voter in my group. My advice to anyone looking for a mature sci-fi / fantasy novel is not to bother with this one.
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