Werthead

Guy Gavriel Kay

336 posts in this topic

Alrighty, finally finished reading Tigana yesterday.

I felt the quality of the book slip about 2/3s of the way through. Description and language faltered as the action and pace picked up. I can see an author altering their tone to help project aspects of the plot, but this felt more like 'gotta get done, gotta get done'.

GGK, throughout the book, managed to touch any number of little introspections for me, especially through Devin. The character poetically raged over their own personal dramas and thoughts, adding books within books for me. I can try to dig up examples later. It was these initial traits of GGK that really drew me into the story. With the end of the story (and the epilogue) I didn't see any personal resolution to these characters struggles. Mind you, I don't think all a character needs to answer everything to draw a fitting end to their tale, but the depth and echoes of hearts and minds seemed silenced as each character left us.

SPOILER: Dianora
Dianora's finish is tougher to judge. Sad to see things so close to resolution, only to see her family's story end as it did. While I thought it was fitting, hers was the story that came to a conclusion too soon. By the time she went diving for the ring, all tension was gone. The riselka's foretelling little more than an opportunity for exit stage left. Understand, sad endings are perfectly welcome, sometimes even preferred, but ultimately it felt that some arguments or acceptances came just to close the story, not because they were natural conclusions.

On the other hand, having read the afterword, I'm more appreciative of some aspects of the ending. The photograph(s) GGK references shows that Brandin did not totally succeed or fail in his endeavors, that sometimes silence can solve the very problems action itself fails to provide. That was a nice touch.

There were always shades of gray, some that ultimately turned toward white, some toward black. The binding of the wizard was an interesting one, a parallel to Dianora. Fitting that this parallel brought two different results to the characters themselves.

I could go on and on, but I'll save it for another discussion, or revive this thread later with my biggest complaint. Rating? 8. Strong theme worthy of dissection. Characters with great motivations and touches. Concludes with more simplicity (and magic) than necessary.

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Of the many great characters in Fionavar, for me Aileron was always one who stood out. Tremendously skilled warrior, quiet, Aragornesque type of character who clearly gets overshadowed as a character by those with more screen time, but he made an impression on me.

Also, I had no trouble with the way the characters acted when they came to Fionavar. None at all.

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I'm reading Ysabel, my first Guy Gavriel Kay.

After 150 pages, I like him fairly well. Good writing, good ideas, decent characters, and he tries a fair number of unusual methods or styles, with pretty good results.

I'm afraid the book is geared toward teens. Not only is the protagonist a teen, but the presentation and his narrative thought is, I think, meant to appeal to teens at the expense of adults, where some other authors successfully pitch books to more general appeal.

Some of the details meant to show authentic teen life, like Ned's iPod selections, dated the book and seemed questionable. Coldplay? Really?? On the other hand, the child is Canadian....

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Ysabel is considered one of Kay's more minor works, so if you like it, or even if you don't, I would still pick up Tigana, Lions or Sarantine.

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I'm afraid the book is geared toward teens. Not only is the protagonist a teen, but the presentation and his narrative thought is, I think, meant to appeal to teens at the expense of adults, where some other authors successfully pitch books to more general appeal.

Ysabel did feel a little bit like a Young Adult novel at times for the reasons you describe, it's unlike Kay's other books in that respect - Last Light of the Sun is the only other one with a teenage protagonist. This, along with the modern-day Earth setting, means that it isn't very representative of Kay's other books. I thought Ysabel was an entertaining book, but I thought Tigana, Lions of Al-Rassan, A Song for Arbonne and the Sarantine Mosaic were all much better books.

BTW, does anyone know when Kay's next book might be appearing? It's been a couple of years since Ysabel's release.

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BTW, does anyone know when Kay's next book might be appearing? It's been a couple of years since Ysabel's release.

He has been working on a new book due for release in 2010 and, as is traditional with him, he isn't discussing it until it's done.

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Ysabel has been optioned as a movie.

Interesting. I wonder if this will go anywhere or, if like Lions of Al-Rassan, it's going to get stuck in development hell for the next ten years?

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It's Hollywood, Wert. Development hell or bust!

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Ysabel has been optioned as a movie.

Although, as I said above, I didn't think Ysabel was Kay's best work, I think it is possibly the best choice to be filmed as a movie. Apart from the obvious advantages of having it being set in modern-day Provence rather than a medieval fantasy world, it's also a more straightforward (and shorter) story than Kay's other books and I think it would be relatively easy to translate into a screenplay. I think the likes of Tigana or The Sarantine Mosaic are too complex to make into a 2-hour movie without losing a lot of the plot, although they might make a good mini-series.

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Ysabel has been optioned as a movie.

Interesting. I wonder if this will go anywhere or, if like Lions of Al-Rassan, it's going to get stuck in development hell for the next ten years?

By the way, do you have any updates on where Lions is exactly in said Hell? Are we still hopeful for an eventual film?

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Have ordered the Sarantine duology and looking forward to reading them. By all accounts, he sounds like one of the authors nearer to Martin in style, so am hoping they live up to their promise.

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Sarantine duology is one of a few Kay books I haven't read yet, but I heard it's one of the best if not the best. On my private Kay list Tigana leads, before Last Light of the Sun, Song for Arbonne, Lions of Al-Rassan and Ysabel.

But I wouldn't say Kay's style is close to Martin, actually.

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Sorry, I meant style not in terms of writing, as much as in creating a story where there's a focus on realism rather than magic.

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News on Kay's next novel.

It's going to be a follow-up to Under Heaven, set four centuries later in an echo of the real China's Song Dynasty. It'll be out next year.

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Oooh exciting! Currently on a GGK kick, read Under Heaven first, then the Sarantine Duology, next is Lions or Last Light... So far Under Heaven is my favourite though.

Thanks for the heads up!

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Excellent. I was just thinking about the next Guy Kay book and how he usually releases a book every 3 years, so one is due next year. And then this great piece of news.

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Reading Fionovar Tapestry right now. Was a bit hard to get into initially, but Summer Tree really does rise to the occasion as the book goes on.

Curious, I know he has a lot of historical fantasy - does Under Heaven or Lions have any actual magic in it? Doesn't seem like it at first glance.

thanks,

Sci

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While Tiagana had great prose, I couldn't get into it, I'd love to read another book that grounds you in the world better. The main reason I didn't like it is because I really had no understanding of the world or the cultures beyond the fact that underage's couldn't drink and that there were two tyrants when suddenly perspectives change and all motivation to continue vanished.

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Reading Fionovar Tapestry right now. Was a bit hard to get into initially, but Summer Tree really does rise to the occasion as the book goes on.

Curious, I know he has a lot of historical fantasy - does Under Heaven or Lions have any actual magic in it? Doesn't seem like it at first glance.

thanks,

Sci

Yes Under Heaven has 'magic' in it. I would describe it more as supernatural events happening however.

IMO the magic or supernatural events aren't really all that crucial to the plot in any of the books I've read so far. You could take them out and have almost the exact same story.

This is one thing about GGK that confuses me, it's kinda like why other having weird shit happen at all if it doesn't really affect anything? This is not true of all events but seems more the case than not. YMMV.

An example of what I mean is in The Sarantine Duolgies:

in the main city of Sarantium there are random fires flaring up in the night that everybody sees but no one knows what cause them or seems to care about it and we don't ever find out what the fuck they are.

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Sis, one of the themes that runs through the books in the shared world of Lions, Sarantine and Last Light is the inevitable fading of mysticism in the face of the march of history. The fires of what they call the half-world in Sarantine are the same sort of thing as Crispin encounters on the way to Sarantium, these primitive pagan spirits that the Jaddites would like to snuff out. The theme is a lot more explicit in Last Light, where the faerie world can only endure because it's at the far end of the Jaddite sphere of influence; not only does the monotheism battle this pagan stuff, but technology sounds its death knell as well.

It doesn't have a lot of point in and of itself, just that it was once there and in the future it's not.

With respect to Sarantine...

You also see this in a bigger way with Heladikos, the son of Jad, whom what's-his-face the new Emperor at the end basically decrees out of existence. Heladikos is an important and essential figure to worship for most of the characters, it's hard to fathom life without him. One decision is made, and there is nary a word spoken of Heladikos in Lions or in Last Light. I think it only pays off over multiple books, which is odd, but it's how Kay works.

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