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A Song for Arbonne [Mass Market Paperback]

Guy Gavriel Kay
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 29 2005

Arbonne and Gorhaut—two lands as different as the sun and the shadowed moon.

In the south, the olive trees and vineyards of Arbonne flourish, as the troubadours fill the air with the music of love and desire. To the north, the history of Gorhaut has been forged with blood and fire, and now a degenerate king and his ruthless advisor seek to quench a thirst for conquest by sweeping down upon Arbonne. But the land of courtly love is also a land of passion, willing to wage a complex and cunning fight to survive.

Inspired by the glorious world of the troubadours, A Song for Arbonne is Guy Gavriel Kay's love song to medieval Provence.

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A Song for Arbonne + The Last Light of the Sun + Lord of Emperors (The Sarantine Mosaic, Book II)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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. As in Tigana , it is a world with two moons. The matriarchal, cultured land of Arbonne is rent by a feud between its two most powerful dukes, the noble troubador Bertran de Talair and Urte de Miraval, over long-dead Aelis, lover of one, wife of the other and once heir to the country's throne. To the north lies militaristic Gorhaut, whose inhabitants worship the militant god Corannos and are ruled by corrupt, womanizing King Ademar. His chief advisor, the high priest of Corannos, is bent on wiping out the worship of a female deity, whose followers live to the south. Into this cauldron of brewing disaster comes the mysterious Gorhaut mercenary Blaise, who takes service with Bertran and averts an attempt on his life. The revelation of Blaise's lineage and a claim for sanctuary by his sister-in-law set the stage for a brutal clash between the two cultures. Intertwined is the tale of a young woman troubadour whose role suggests the sweep of the drama to come. Kay creates a vivid world of love and music, magic and death in a realm that resembles ours but is just different enough to enrich the fantasy genre. 25,000 first printing; major ad/promo.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

GUY GAVRIEL KAY is an international bestselling author. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in the literature of the fantastic, is a two-time winner of the Aurora Award, and won the 2008 World Fantasy Award for Ysabel, a #1 bestseller in Canada. His works have been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

Visit his Canadian website at www.guygavrielkay.ca and his authorized international website at www.brightweavings.com.

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First Sentence
Anselme, who has ever been acknowledged as the first and perhaps the greatest of all the troubadours of Arbonne, was of modest birth, the youngest son of a clerk in the castle of a baron near Cauvas. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Fabulous Book from Guy Kay May 21 2004
By CanadianMother TOP 500 REVIEWER
I love A Song for Arbonne.
I admit that the book started out a little bit slowly, as action was frequently interrupted by characters musing over the past. But once the back story was sufficiently explained and the main plot really began, I couldn't put the book down. Kay completely surprised and delighted me many times (as well as made me cry), and the battle scene towards the end of the book was simply one of the best I've ever read--so emotionally charged and unpredictable, as battle truly is.
Even though the prose in this book might not be quite as perfect as in his more recent works (like The Last Light of the Sun, which is one of my favourite books EVER), nevertheless many of Kay's senteces here are pure poetry.
The ending of the book was utterly delightful and made me laugh out loud before closing the book with a smile on my face.
Another reviewer mentioned that this book contains graphic sex, which is simply not true. The book does contain a few scenes of sexuality, but they are very tasteful and well done and leave everything to the imagination. I honestly can't figure out how someone could be offended by Kay's tasteful and maturely written books.
There are a few of Kay's books I have not read, and I truly look forward to it because I believe he is a writer of the very highest calibre. He makes you laugh, and cry, and possibly even come away from his books a better person.
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A magnificently told tale of honor, chivalry and song, Guy Gavriel Kay raises his status as storyteller and master of prose to new heights. The novel has many different levels of plot and theme such as redemption, conflict and the mysticism and magic of the land of Arbonne. Being the expert weaver of tales that Kay is, he brings all of these elements, and more, together in a powerfully satisfying novel.
The primary character, the mercenary Blaise is a man at odds with himself, his family and what his position means to the world at large. Blaise's native land, Gorhaut, is ruled by the amoral King Ademar and the even less scrupulous High Elder and Chief Counsellor, Galbert, who also happens to be Blaise's father. Blaise is a mercenary on a self-imposed exile besmirching his father's name and place in Gorhaut due to a treaty Galbert set up prior to the events of the novel.
In opposition to the male dominated Gorhaut is the female ruled Arbonne. While Arbonne does not overtly oppose Gorhaut, rather Galbert has a vendetta against the woman ruled land. Arbonne has echoes of Avalon in that it is surrounded by mystery and ruled by the Goddess. The novel begins with Blaise arriving at to the courts of Arbonne in his attempt to secure the troubadour Evrard as part of his job for a local duke. Blaise becomes involved in the eventual struggle between Arbonne and his once home nation of Garhaut. As the novel progresses, Blaise and the reader learn more about Arbonne, each characters ultimate connection to Arbonne and how they will play a role in Arbonne's destiny.
The strengths in this novel are Kay's magnificent descriptions of all things chivalric.
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5.0 out of 5 stars OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS!! Dec 14 2002
I was a little bit reluctant to read such a long book when i wasnt terribley interested after reading the back cover. But i read it anyway. OH MY!! This book is absolutely AMAZING!! What a world. What an author! The culture and intertangled and intertwined motives, characters, plot, etc, etc., are utterly complex and wonderful. This book could not get enough stars, i wish there could have been more than five. The characters are believable and seemingly real. The ending was unexpected yet absolutely fantastic, though it did leave me wondering just a bit. !! WOW !! So entirely absorbing and fantastic that you want to finish it quick so you know what happens but then wish it just went on more and more. I recommend this book HIGHLY to anyone who likes historical fantasy that wants to read something besides the ordinary. This is the first book I've read by Guy Gavriel Kay and he is truly, and A Song for Arbonne, one of the best authors and books I've ever read. YOU MUST READ IT!! YOU WONT REGRET IT!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but my least favorite by Kay Dec 11 2002
My first reading of Guy Gavriel Kay was The Lions of Al-Rassan, and perhaps reading such an excellent book has spoiled some of his others for me, particularly the Fionavar books and A Song for Arbonne. This is not to say that these are not excellent books-- in a genre where skill in writing seems to often come dead last, Kay's books are a breath of fresh air. However, Arbonne has far more weaknesses than some of his other books, like Lions, Tigana, or the Sarantine Mosaic.
As ever, the plot is enthralling right from the start and continues to do so throughout the book. The characterization is one of Kay's high points, and all the major characters and many of the minor ones are exquisitely done. The relationship between the protagonist, Blaise, and his older brother is not merely a one-dimensional rivalry; it is like real-life relationships, complicated and messy and tragic in its very humanness. The women are extraordinary, from Signe, the dowager countess of Arbonne, trying to save her country while still mourning her husband, to Ariane, who is trying to create a world in which marriages can be made with love, not just for dynastic reasons, to Lisseut, the singer who is trying to deal with the events happening to her and to her country.
So why, then, did this book ultimately disappoint me? I can't say without spoiling the ending, but be assured, it is a weak one. Kay has proved that he can pull off extraordinary plot twists-- in The Wandering Fire, Tigana, The Lions of Al-Rassan, and Lord of Emperors-- but his 2 major attempts to do so in Arbonne fall quite flat. In the end, I am left with a sour taste in my mouth, feeling as if I've been unfairly tricked. If you enjoy Kay, you will find Arbonne worth your while, but it doesn't compare to some of his other books.
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