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on February 11, 2007
Guy Gavriel Kay fans, familiar with his works of historical fantasy, will find this work a departure from his typical fare. In Ysabel the characters from a historical past play out an ancient story but they do so in a modern setting. In the process modern day characters become entangled in their age-old drama. Whereas, in past novels, Kay has established a coherent and consistent context for his characters and story based on some ancient culture, in Ysabel, characters from ancient cultures are made to stand out in stark contrast to the modern setting. The fantastic elements that are seamlessly woven into the ancient cultures of Kay's other works stand out boldly against the backdrop of present day Province. Some may find the contrasts too bold. For me, they are the most compelling aspects of Ysabel. I enjoyed moving in and out of the overlapping worlds. Ned's climactic climb up the mountain, passing ever more into another reality, and his subsequent descent to the present world were all the more gripping because of the dramatic transitioning between the fantastic and the ordinary. Lesser writers would be well advised to steer clear of attempting what Kay has so brilliantly achieved here. It is to Kay's considerable credit as a writer that he so skillfully rendered the fantastic even more fantastic than that of regular fantasy fare without collapsing the reader's suspension of belief so necessary to the enjoyment of speculative fiction. Only in the hands of one so thoroughly in control of his craft could this story be told. Highly recommended.
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on January 27, 2007
Well, as usual, GGK's new book is stunning. I have yet to be unimpressed by a book he's written, with the exception of his first trilogy which was entirely too Lord of the Rings for me. Ysabel is possibly the easiest to read out of all of his books, and I was captivated all throughout. In fact, my jaw actually dropped at the end of chapter one, that's how amazing it was. It's pretty much tied with Tigana right now as my favorite. It's definitely worth reading.
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