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A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay

A Song for Arbonne (original 1992; edition 2002)

by Guy Gavriel Kay

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2,195422,956 (4.12)2 / 181
Title:A Song for Arbonne
Authors:Guy Gavriel Kay
Info:Roc Trade (2002), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 512 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay (1992)


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English (41)  Dutch (1)  All (42)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
I LOVE Guy Gavriel Kay's writing. [book:The Fionavar Tapestry|1148721] and [book:Tigana|104089] are some of my all-time favorite books. Books that I make friends read, even if I have to give them my copy. I did this one audio and I think that's what saved it from getting tossed away early. The narrator was REALLY good.

It felt like someone tipped this book at an angle and all the story flowed down into the last third of the book. The first two thirds were just boring, nothing really happened other than world and character building. Of course in the last third of the book, right around the time I was seriously thinking about giving up the pace picked up and by then I knew the characters intimately and really cared that something was (finally) happening to them.

Because his prose is so magically delicious (I just made that up), this should probably get 3 stars, but really if I would have been actually reading this I would have had to give up. I just don't read fast enough or have enough time to be bored. ( )
  ragwaine | Jan 4, 2017 |
A Song for Arbonne - Guy Gavriel Kay
Audio performance by Euan Morton
5 stars

After a rough November, I needed some escapist fiction. This book was exactly what I needed, but as is usually true with Guy Gavriel Kay, the story had some obvious parallels to current events and resonated in my thoughts long after I finished it.

The story takes place in Arbonne, a fantasy world that resembles the middle ages troubadour culture of Provence. For all its high culture, Arbonne is a troubled land with a long standing feud dividing two of its most important barons. It is, naturally, a feud that began with the love of a lady, long dead and deeply mourned. Feuding barons weaken Arbonne’s defenses, providing opportunity for invasion by the neighboring, misogynistic lord of Gorhaut. It’s easy to tell who the bad guys are. This political situation is very difficult for a character like Blaise de Gorhau whose loyalties are divided between Gorhaut and Arbonne. G.G. Kay is skilled at writing the struggles and tragedies of divided loyalties. He is also amazingly good at writing a feminist, female perspective. This book is full of strong willed, intelligent, female characters.

It is not easy, at first, to keep track of the many characters, their relationships, the back stories, and the tangled snarls of political intrigue. A little difficult, but not impossible and well worth the effort. I’ve learned to trust that Kay will make all things clear, and that even seemingly trivial events will be tied to larger outcomes in the end. It does tend to make me flip back to the beginning to reread those earlier small pieces of the puzzle just to see how everything does click together. So, I had a text copy of this book, which does not have a kindle edition, and seems to be out of print. I’m hanging onto my library copy for as long as I can.

I also own Euan Morton’s excellent audio performance. Generally speaking, songs in audiobooks are disappointing at best. (Readers who cannot sing and just speak the lyrics, are better than readers who cannot sing trying to sing.) Morton is a trained singer. His renditions of Kay’s poetry are a real treat. He sings male voices as a tenor and female voices with a clear, note perfect, countertenor. The songs are all acapella, but you can almost hear the lute and extraneous tavern noises in the background. It put me in the mood for a good Renaissance Fair.
  msjudy | Dec 17, 2016 |
Fabulous epic fantasy. Thematically interesting, with a multitude of engaging, deeply-imagined characters who grow and change and find their destinies in an intricately-woven, extremely satisfying plot.

I was also struck by how many of the Internet-dispersed "rules" for writing genre fiction that Kay breaks with impunity and panache. Don't have too many viewpoint characters; don't change viewpoints in the same scene; avoid adverbs when tagging dialogue ("She said" is always better than "She said gravely." -- No it isn't!). Most remarkable is how almost every scene is embellished with endless flashback and character-illuminating backstory. There is doubtless a reason these "rules" are prescribed to novice writers, but in the hands of a master like Kay, breaking them results in a novel of grand scope, riveting detail, and heart-breaking depth.

The book is not totally flawless. The fight scenes are sometimes unconvincing, and the author manages a few times to remove actors from the scene with "precise blows to the head" that render them conveniently unconscious until the plot is ready for them again. Also, while most of the book is in standard past tense, some areas are unaccountably switched to present-tense. This particular rule-breaking was an annoyance, at least for me.

As in other of Kay's fantasy's I've read, there is almost no magic. What there is here is at least well-explained and vivid, albeit it plays an extremely minor part in the story. So if well-imagined magic and wonder are what you crave in fantasy, you might want to look elsewhere.

My edition of the book has a quote from Charles de Lint calling this "the ideal novel." While I do not totally agree, I'd say it is pretty darn close.
( )
  JackMassa | Nov 23, 2016 |
Such beautiful, rich language! I re-read it over the past few weeks, and all of the questions I had reading it the first time through just fell into place. The tortured love of two people that changes the dynamics in a country, the twisting of religion into a reason for invasion, all are elements that Guy Gavriel Kay masterfully brings to the printed word. ( )
  threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
what a splendid adventure!  recommended to Game of Thrones fans.  ( )
  Darth-Heather | May 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Guy Gavriel Kay n'est pas un auteur de fantasy comme les autres, Depuis la déjà fort remarquée Tapisserie de Fionavar, qui liait aux thèmes classiques de la High Fantasy une interprétation très personnelle du fameux triangle amoureux Arthur / Lancelot / Guenièvre, il s'est signalé par une tendance croissante à substituer aux poncifs du genre des préoccupations d'ordre historique, politique ou stratégique. Certes, la thématique du pouvoir joue toujours un rôle assez considérable dans les romans d'heroic fantasy, comme dans toute la littérature inspirée de l'héroïsme romantique du XIXème siècle. Mais ce romantisme, chez Guy Gavriel Kay, se teinte à la fois d'un intérêt pour l'Histoire et d'un cynisme résolument contemporains, post-modernes. Ainsi, d'un roman à l'autre, son oeuvre semble s'orienter vers une forme nouvelle d'heroic fantasy qui, tout en respectant la structure, les conventions littéraires et même l'ambiance générale du genre, se débarrasse peu à peu de sa naïveté foncière, de sa croyance en l'homme ou de son obsession pour la spiritualité. Une progression tout à fait intéressante dans un genre parfois quelque peu bégayant, où les auteurs se contentent (trop ?) souvent d'appliquer des schémas préconçus — tels que ceux conseillés par David Eddings dans son Codex de Riva. A ce titre, la Chanson d'Arbonne constitue certainement le roman le plus représentatif de Guy Gavriel Kay, puisque c'est là, après la Tapisserie de Fionavar et Tigane, que la transition est la plus manifeste.
added by Ariane65 | editnoosfere, Nathalie LABROUSSE (Feb 15, 2001)

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy Gavriel Kayprimary authorall editionscalculated
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:49 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

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