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Werthead

Guy Gavriel Kay

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In Tigana one of the 'villains' gets a spotlight. A little too much of it for some readers actuallly *coughsympatheticmindrapistcough*

That - and even more so the sympathetic portray of the female lead - aggravated me so much I've never picked up another GGK book since.

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I wanted to say something about Lions, but it seems that DP has already said it for me about Tigana. (Incidentally, I liked her Goodreads review back in January because it was funny, even though I didn't actually know what she was talking about, and I wish that I'd remained blissfully ignorant).

Particularly this: "But then I realized that the worst problem the book has it that it takes itself so. damn. seriously." And this: "It may be that my loathing has grown with time, entering a positive feedback loop with my increasingly infrequent and chore-like attempts to finish the damn thing".

I am halfway through and struggling to finish.

it reminds me of a movie novelization. A movie intended as pseudo-historical reenactment Oscar-bait with beautiful sweeping landscapes and beautiful actors and actresses who take it all so damn seriously. The women are spunky (I hate that word, but not as much as I hate Jehane) and inappropriately modern while remaining in the margins - props to the masculine deeds of the leading men. Every fight is a show of athleticism, perfectly choreographed. A light-hearted moment that isn't actually funny. Characters don't have sex, they indulge in lovemaking (yes, the word lovemaking was actually used in the book), perfectly cleaned bodies in soft light draped by strategically placed sheets. Side-boob, half in shadow. Banter between the female lead and the men who would give their lives to protect her. Scenes open with a view of the city or enclave that the next group of characters occupy. The hint of tragedy, because without tragedy, how could the viewer not feel all the feels? But ultimately, you know that it's Joaquin Phoenix in a wig and makeup pretending to be someone who lived long ago. No matter how the book ends, this movie will end with a sweeping shot in melancholy light of the lands that these manly men fought their way across. And maybe whichever of the men ends up being the ultimate hero looking out across that land. You leave the theater feeling a little melancholy yourself, not just because of the story, but because of the beauty and unattainable perfection of the characters, and then you get a burger and coke and forget about it.

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Eponine - I can't really refute anything you say, it's all in there. I still have mad love for Lions (and most of his other books, too). It takes a certain mindset, however, to be in the mood to read him. I have to kind of settle into it.

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I don't think I've been in that mindset. However, I can see why it would be appealing if for some reason, one really liked a particular character. At first I was neutral toward most of the characters, but by now I am extremely irritated by Jehane. It's the way she keeps thinking or the author keeps telling us that she's not like other women (because other women are emotional and dumb), but then she runs after Ibn Khairan like a 16 year old experiencing her first crush. Few things annoy me more in a book than when I perceive a character one way and the author bends over backwards to try to say that she's not like that at all.

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it reminds me of a movie novelization. A movie intended as pseudo-historical reenactment Oscar-bait with beautiful sweeping landscapes and beautiful actors and actresses who take it all so damn seriously.

[...]You leave the theater feeling a little melancholy yourself, not just because of the story, but because of the beauty and unattainable perfection of the characters, and then you get a burger and coke and forget about it.

That made me laugh thank you. :laugh:

Even though I loved, loved Lions.

Eponine - I can't really refute anything you say, it's all in there. I still have mad love for Lions (and most of his other books, too). It takes a certain mindset, however, to be in the mood to read him. I have to kind of settle into it.

I cant' agree more.

Rivers of Stars, Kay's latest book, has been on my desk for a few weeks now, I'm waiting for the right time, the right mood before I start reading it. I consider any book by GGK a special treat and I don't want to waste it.

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I'm counting down to backpacking South America and I've decided to re-read GGK's novels. He's arguably my favorite living author. As I prep for my trip in the coming weeks, I tried to figure out where to begin. Figured I'd make a list and start with my favorite.

1. Sarantine Mosaic

2. Lions of Al-Rassan

3. Tigana

4. Under Heaven

5. A Song for Arbonne

I discovered GGK when I was 21. I was fresh out of college working a 12-hour graveyard shift. It was a slow night and we were practically snowed in. I pulled out Lions of Al-Rassan from my locker to pass the time. I'll never forget tearing up when I discovered the outcome of the duel. His works and characters have stayed with me since.

What are your top 5 GGK novels and where were you when you discovered him?

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1. Lions of Al-Rassan
2. Tigana
3. A Song for Arbonne

4. Sarantine Mosaic

5. Last Light of the Sun

I still haven't read Under Heaven and River of Stars. Ysabel was very different from his other books and very weak, in my opinion. The Fionovar Tapestry is not bad, but it's a more conventional epic fantasy story than his best books.

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Very curious to hear more boarders weigh in on this. I've only read Lions and Tigana and like but don't love both and yet feel like it's an author that could do better. Early returns not good on this account!


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Under Heaven
Tigana

Lions of Al-Rassan
Song for Arbonne

Last Light of the Sun

Lions was maybe heading for the top spot until the last third, which I found rather poor (though it would have done well to unseat Under Heaven anyway). I haven't read Sarantine Mosaic yet, nor Ysabell, and I tried Fionovar but didn't like it.

River of Stars was a bit disappointing after the near-perfection of Under Heaven, but it's still good.

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I am interested in comments as well. I only read the Fionavar and Tigana (in the mid/late 90ties, almost 20 years ago). I preferred the latter. I do not remember so many details about the former, but I disliked both the college kids enter another world trope as well as the "re-enacting" of the Lancelot-Guinevere-Artus-Triangle and the mystical stuff like the self-sacrifice. It is very well written (better than a lot of contemporary stuff) and atmospheric, though.


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Lions is the only GGK I have read and I liked it but was not that impressed. I do have Under Heaven on by TBR pile though.


Edited by wolverine

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I've only read three Kay books, ranked like so from best to worst:



1. Tigana


2. The Lions of Al-Rassan


3. The Summer Tree



This ranking doesn't tell the whole story on its own.



I really enjoyed Tigana, and I'm prepared to say I thought it was a good book. I know plenty of other people hate it, but it struck a chord for me. This is the only book on the list I am pleased to have listed here.



The Lions of Al-Rassan is a ferociously readable terrible book. The further I get from it the more it annoys me. Everything is too pat in the worst, most David Eddings sort of way. Everyone is too witty, the two main characters are too perfect, everything is too neat and tidy and predictable.



The Summer Tree is a piece of shit. Plain and simple. Absolute derivative garbage. I couldn't get through it because I hated it too much.



I haven't read any Kay since Al-Rassan. I am not entirely convinced that my life is the poorer for it.


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I've only read Tigana and Sarantine Mosaic, and I'd rank them in that order, because I found the themes and characters in Tigana more compelling.

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1 - Tigana - it always seems to be a divisive book and I know some people hate it but I liked it a lot. One of the things I found I found interesting about it was that it questioned whether the heroes attempt to regain their lost homeland justified all the things they did or not, although I think one flaw is that maybe sometimes it doesn't explore the question as well as it could have done and I think that might be part of the reason for some of the negative reactions it can get.


2 - The Sarantine Mosaic - the start of the first book was a bit slow but I really liked it once it got going. I liked the setting and the characters (although the way every woman in the books seems attracted to the protagonist got a bit absurd). The chariot racing was a lot of fun as well.


3 - A Song For Arbonne - perhaps doesn't quite reach the heights of some of Kay's other books but also less flawed than many of the others


4 - Under Heaven - the first two-thirds are among Kay's best work, unfortunately the last section gets a bit unfocused


5 - The Lions of Al-Rassan - Kay's penchant for explaining in great detail how awesome his characters and how emotionally powerful the events that occur are reaches its peak, if you can tolerate that then it's a great book.


---------


6 - River of Stars - the opposite of Under Heaven in that it starts off a bit dull but has a strong second half


7 - The Fionavar Tapestry - some bits of this are among Kay's best, other bits I didn't really like. I wasn't keen on the 'Canadian students called on to save a fantasy realm' plot device.


8 - Ysabel - a fun read but a bit lacking in depth compared to his other books. Kay seems more comfortable describing medieval warriors than contemporary teenagers


9 - Last Light of the Sun - I liked the setting and the characters well enough but the plot wasn't particularly compelling.



I am interested in comments as well. I only read the Fionavar and Tigana (in the mid/late 90ties, almost 20 years ago). I preferred the latter. I do not remember so many details about the former, but I disliked both the college kids enter another world trope as well as the "re-enacting" of the Lancelot-Guinevere-Artus-Triangle

and the mystical stuff like the self-sacrifice. It is very well written (better than a lot of contemporary stuff) and atmospheric, though.



Fionavar isn't really representative of his later books (with the exception of Ysabel), his other works don't have the modern world/epic fantasy crossover and the fantasy elements tend to be much less prominent.


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1. The Sarantine Mosaic


2. Tigana


3. Under Heaven


4. River of Stars


5. A Song for Arbonne



Sarantine Mosaic has top billing because it was the first of Kay's books I've read. If I was a little bit more objective, it might be farther down the list. Also, I've often felt the oddball out in not loving Lions of Al-Rassan, but looking here it does seem like a few others had problems with it too.



I've read every Kay book except for Fionovar. I do have the books, I just haven't felt the need to read them yet.


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1. The Fionavar Tapestry - Yes, it is less polished than his later works. Yes, the prose is more "purple". But less polish means more raw emotion in this case and I rather like purple prose.


2. The Lions of Al-Rassan


3. A Song for Arbonne


4. The Sarantine Mosaic


5. Ysabel - I love great YA and this is great YA, with myths & legends and a Fionavar Tapestry connection.



I was debating whether Tigana should be in there or not. I like some parts of it very much, but never quite warmed to most of the characters. It would definitely rank as 6, with Under Heaven as 7 and then probably Last Light of the Sun before River of Stars. The last two are the Kay books that have left me the most "cold" emotionally. Brilliant writing, but not the emotional response I was looking for.


Edited by Linda

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1. Lions of Al-Rassan

2. Fionavar Tapestry

3. Sarantine Mosaic.

All the other ones still to read, but all 3 of these were excellent.

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