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A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay
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A Song for Arbonne (1992)

by Guy Gavriel Kay

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (36)  Dutch (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Blaise, a sellsword from Gorhaut (a violent and chauvinistic northern country), has moved to the warmer country of Arbonne. Blaise doesn’t have much appreciation or tolerance for Arbonne’s womanly culture which is highly influenced by the Court of Love. He also doesn’t have much hope that Arbonne – which values singers over soldiers, and troubadours over troops – will put up much of a fight if Gorhaut decides to try to eradicate Arbonne’s goddess worship. But what is Blaise doing in Arbonne anyway? Is he hiding, or is he spying?

I immediately fell in love with Blaise who we meet as he’s commanding a small group of soldiers who are sneaking onto Arbonne’s goddess’s holy island. They plan to kidnap a troubadour who is sulking after being humiliated by his employer’s wife who screamed loudly when he tried to make good on her disingenuous flirtations. Blaise thinks all of this is incredibly ridiculous and he has little confidence in the men he commands. How can they be manly when they live in this gentle culture?

I guess I liked Blaise because I was thinking the same thing – these guys are a bunch of wusses and this courtly society is shallow and immoral. But Blaise and I learned that when their lives and lifestyle are threatened, the passionate people of Arbonne respond.

Much of the novel’s background information is delivered by several characters’ emotional interior monologues, a technique I like when it’s not overdone to the point that it really slows the action. It was nearly over-the-top in A Song for Arbonne, but I liked Blaise so much that it worked for me when we were in his head. I can imagine, however, that this style won’t suit all readers. Kay invests his work with a lot of passion, and sometimes I can sense the manipulation of my emotions with his fervid prose. A writer is supposed to elicit feeling from me, but I don’t want to notice it happening.

The plot of A Song for Arbonne was original and interesting though some of the antagonists’ motivations, revealed at the end, seemed contrived. I might have believed them if they’d been hinted at earlier, and this would also have helped the bad guys not seem so one-dimensionally bad.

But overall, A Song for Arbonne is a beautiful, sumptuous, emotional novel. I listened to this on audio, performed by Euan Morton. This was the first time I’d heard Mr. Morton and I thought he was perfect for this title. He did a terrific job.
( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Kay's take on the Provençal culture of troubadour and courtly love of the Middle Ages. Very good book. Blaise the well-fleshed out mercenary hero from Gorhaut, a rival kingdom of Arbonne fights on the side of the Arbonnais a war with his own kingdom to get rid of the present cruel king and the brutality of Gorhaut, as opposed to the softness of Arbonne. I thought it odd all women were attracte d to Blaise; sure, he was a good, gentle man, but this was a bit over-the-top. ( )
  janerawoof | Mar 3, 2014 |
I like the world of the troubadours, and Guy Kay kept me there for a precious few days. this is an enjoyable, genial read. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 2, 2014 |
A little overly romantic for my taste but still a very well written and enjoyable novel. ( )
  bsima | Nov 22, 2013 |
This book is truly masterful. Beautifully written as only Guy Gavriel Kay can, A song for Arbonne tells the story of a conflict between Arbonne and its neighbor, Gorhaut. What I love is that although the conflict is the subject of the book, what it really is about is people. In a way, the conflict is exacerbated by the relations between several of the people. I'll admit that I found it easy to put this book away, but on the other hand, I kept returning to it. It has a great atmosphere and world, and my heart sank and soared with the characters. There may have been little magic in the story, the book itself and the writing brimmed with it. ( )
  zjakkelien | Oct 9, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy Gavriel Kayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kraft, Kinuko Y.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Odom,MelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated with love, to the memory of my father, Dr. Samuel K. Kay, whose skill and compassion as a surgeon were enhanced all his life by a love for language and literature - a love he conveyed to his sons, among so many other gifts.
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On a morning in the springtime of the year, when the snows of the mountains were melting and the rivers swift in their running, Aelis de Miraval watched her husband ride out at dawn to hunt in the forest west of their castle, and shortly after that she took horse herself, travelling north and east along the shores of the lake towards the begetting of her son.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451458974, Paperback)

For the Northern mercenary called Blaise, it began with the death of a king and betrayal in the form of a peace treaty. Wandering in self-imposed exile, he would journey to the Kingdom of Arbonne, where the Court of Love made warriors bow to troubadours, and a well-sung ballad was valued as highly as a skillfully swung sword. But Arbonne was a troubled realm, torn by an ancient feud between its two most powerful dukes and coveted as a prize by the land in which Blaise himself had grown to manhood. And no one—except perhaps Arbonne’s goddess—could forsee that one Northern mercenary might become the key to Arbonne’s destiny....

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:47 -0400)

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Facing conquest by the neighboring Gorhaut--ruled by a dour, crusading, misogynistic lord--the men and women of Arbonne find that their fates lie in the hands of a rough-hewn mercenary captain.

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