Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: A Song For Arbonne

A Song for Arbonne
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Publisher: Roc Trade (November 5, 2002)
Trade Paperback: 512 pages

Summary: Based on the troubadour culture that rose in Provence during the High Middle Ages, this panoramic, absorbing novel beautifully creates an alternate version of the medieval world.

In doing a little research before I started writing this review I looked for a summary of A Song for Arbonne and was astounded at the complicated, pseudo-intellectual descriptions I found. I realized that in itself might frighten a lot of readers off. I've read most of Kay's books and loved them all for different reasons. His writing is rich, vivid and historical in it's subject matter. However, he is also an awesome storyteller. He brings the characters to life for the reader and I would hate to see someone pass up his books because of praise that makes them sound high brow or over complicated.

Actually, I almost didn't read A Song for Arbonne because I'm not a fan of most things French, including literature or history. After reading the prologue I still wasn't convinced, but it was becoming interesting so I read further. Chapter one introduced me to Blaise, the cynical mercenary who doesn't have time for "useless chaff of a patently silly culture". I liked his attitude, so I read on and the story captivated me from then on until the end.

Guy Gavriel Kay writes in a style much like authors such as Mary Stewart, T.H. White and Morgan Llywelyn. A Song for Arbonne has romance, betrayals galore, swords, battles, and an ending that wraps it all up while the reader thinks "Man, I DID NOT see that one coming!". The twists and turns in a society based on France during medieval times is full of intrigue, twists and turns.

A Song for Arbonne doesn't slap the reader in the face, instead it caresses us with a promise of more to come. The writer lures us farther into the story until we can't stop reading because we NEED to find out how it ends. Kay's words cause the reader's emotions to sway from anger, to sadness, back to anger, and finally to a realization that all ends as it is suppose to.

I recommend A Song for Arbonne for fans of historical romance, sword and sorcery and fantasy books. I read the last couple of chapters over before writing this review and found myself drawn into the story again as the author's words worked their magic. I think you will feel the same way if you decide to read this book.

You can learn more about Guy Gavriel Kay at the Bright Weavings website.

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