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A Song for Arbonne Paperback – 1 Jan 1993
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‘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.”
“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.”
From the Back Cover
"This panoramic, absorbing novel creates a vivid world of love, music and magic"
"Go and discover the grand book for yourself…Kay encompasses a greater sweep of history, passions and fully-realized lives within the space of one big volume than most authors could pack into a trilogy"
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
I was proven wonderfully and delightfully wrong.
This standalone novel of middling length sketches a believable picture of a medieval world, with a rich tapestry of characters who live real lives.
I would certainly place this work in the very top few of my favourite works and I certainly hope that one day Kay takes us back to the world of Arbonne.
Read this book and savour it, both for the gentle humour that at times draws outright laughter, and for the poignant ending that drew a tear to my eyes.
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Most recent customer reviews
The characters are realistic, some likeable, others not.Read more
It is by far and away one of the best fantasy books i have ever read (and i tend to read anything i can get my hands on - hell i'm still up to date on...Read more