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Ysabel Paperback – February 5, 2008
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
First, the nitpicks. The beginning part of the boy-becoming-man plotline here isn't original and in fact makes the first part of the novel drag a bit, as Kay seems slightly out of his element in dealing with both the narrative of a fifteen year old and a modern setting. Maybe kids grow up quicker now, but protagonist Ned Marriner seems a bit too mature even before what Kay calls the last day of his childhood. Kay's attempts to integrate modern technology and society actually distract from plot advancement at times and in a few years will badly date this book, even if his ruminations on how technology has changed things can be interesting. And finally, there are some minor and a couple non minor characters that could have used more stage time.
However, once Ned becomes fully engaged in the bigger picture, the book takes off. Kay settles comfortably into meticulously researched history as to why certain things are transpiring - in this case an age old struggle of barbarians versus civilization in which neither has a monopoly on good - but really hits his stride with the exploration of love and revenge and their effect on innocent bystanders. The ensemble cast supporting Ned is generally well developed and very believable.Read more ›
I scarcely know where to begin my critique of Ysabel. So little of it made sense. The dialogues perhaps were what irked me most. I wondered, about a chapter in, if GGK had switched genres and had written this for teenagers. Where was the delicacy, subtlety and wit that he had perfected in the dialogues in the Sarantium Mosaic? That we saw the sweet beginnings of, in Lions?
About a third of the way into the book, what began to annoy me were the coy 'who-are-you', 'stay-out-of-this', 'best-if you-don't-know' conversations that Ned had, over and over. It did nothing to build suspense, added nothing to the plot and was quite frankly, clumsy all around.
I was also frustrated by the repeated history lectures that Kate constantly had to give. Now, I am a reader who is greedy for historical novels, which is why I revel in GGK's other novels. He has a gift of re-creating worlds within context of the rich historical past in Spain, Byzantium and France. Somehow this was sadly missing in Ysabel. Instead of recreating Provence's volatile past in a more evocative manner (flashbacks, perhaps? To allow us to get to know both the history and Ysabel herself?), all he's done is create know-it-all Kate, and rendering his hero to a nothing more than a stereotypical, ignorant North American teenage tourist. All in order to bring us, his readers, up to speed with Provencal history. Clumsy, clumsy narrative.Read more ›
I have read all of Guy Kay's novels and can, therefore, compare. This is very different fare from Lions, Tigana and Sarantium. Ysabel lacks that sweeping scope, the feeling of a story that will stay with you forever and characters that burn their way into you heart. Ysabel sweeps 2,500 years of history, but it is not an epic. It looks at that history from the outside. On the other hand, though I worship the three works above, I do not hesitate to admit they are not told as concisely as they might have been. Some parts drag and that takes away from the momentum of the phenomenal stories lines. Ysabel is all story; all motion. I was on the edge of my seat throughout. It is exciting, a little scary, completely engrossing. The true mark of Kay's talent and precision here is that he did not just shift from a character-driven story to a plot-driven one. Not at all. The characters are vivid. Their image is instantly before you. They are instantly complex. You do not like or dislike anyone absolutely, but take them as they are in all the shades of gray. A shameless honesty, there. There is no barrier to knowing them and getting into their heads. I cared for them all, even the more peripheral personages.
Beneath it all and all around is the history. I loved the history. The description of Provence as dripping with it is wonderful. Every inch of land is saturated with stories. All the stories are exciting and intriguing. All are worth telling. All are Real.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I always love G G Kay's writing. This is a book that was interesting in that it had a modern-day setting in Provence, France (a place that I love) as opposed to his other books... Read morePublished 2 months ago by mayahope
I feel like I have found buried treasure in the tales by Guy G. Kay. I have read 4 of his books straight in a row. What excellently imagined themes and plots. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Anna Priscilla
A fascinating and exciting book. I shall read this many more times and continue to enjoy it.Published 4 months ago by barbara dundon
Keeps you guessing the whole time. Nothing makes sense until the very end. The characters and plot were all unique and interesting.Published 4 months ago by Jalyn Isley
Was a good read. I've enjoyed some of his other books more. Had a small issue with the age of the lead character Ned. Seemed too young for all that happened to him. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Gaffrig
Huge disappointment. Full of spelling mistakes, and the characters didn't come to life. It was almost as if the author rushed into getting the work published, without giving the... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Collen
I have loved everything I've read by Kay ... Except Ysabel and the Fionavar Tapestry. No surprise then, to find out the two are related. Read morePublished 16 months ago by SunRaven01
I've grown to have almost unquestioning trust in Guy Gavriel Kay's story-telling ability, and this is one of his best. Read morePublished 16 months ago by David A Dawson