Book - 2007
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While 15-year-old Ned Marriner's father photographs a cathedral of Aix-en-Provence for a coffee-table book Ned explores the interior of the cathedral. After he surprises an intruder in a place where he should not be, Ned, his family, and friends are drawn into a tale where mythic figures from conflicts long ago intrude into the present, claiming and changing lives.
Publisher: Toronto : Penguin Group, 2007
ISBN: 9780670043217
Branch Call Number: FIC Kay 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 421 p


From Library Staff

DanniOcean Jun 25, 2009

Has tantalizing ties to his first trilogy, The Fionavar Tapestry

From the critics

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Nov 18, 2018

From the beginning, I was intrigued, and a couple chapters in I was hooked. I could not put the book down. The ending is unexpected and somewhat satisfying, having most questions answered. I still have a few questions lingering in my mind which is frustrating for me. I like stone solid endings that leave me with nothing to wonder. I still highly recommend this book.

Jul 25, 2012

A good read! If you are a Kay fan, it is somewhat different from his usual genre. So, if you start out expecting more of the same, you will be disappointed. I haven't read Kay in years, but remembered that he was an excellent story teller. Ysabel is a wonderful story!

Feb 27, 2012

not sure i finished this book....it was sort of good, young teen, father a famous photographer, provence, france, flashbacks in time

Apr 18, 2011

Even though Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay will never be on my list of favorite books by him, it was still an interesting and engaging read. Those used to his usual epic story-telling will find this book quite different. I felt it was more of a YA read, set in our world with fantasy aspects, instead of his usual rich and deep historical fantasies set in worlds of his own creation.

An event which transcends time, and has been recreated through the last 2500 years is on the verge of being triggered when the story opens. A romantic triangle that is destined to be played out over and over again. Ned, a fifteen year old, has come to Provence with his world famous photographer father and a group of his assistants. With time on his hands, he explores the cathedral in Aix-en-Provence, meets a young exchange student, Kate, and they are swept up into a time spanning saga that eventually involves the whole group.

I found the addition of a couple of characters from the Finovar Tapestry provided an link to this authors other work, and eventually went a long way to explain some of the things that Ned was experiencing. It isn’t necessary to have read the Finovar Tapestry beforehand, but I think it would aid in the overall understanding of Ned’s abilities and his family connections.

Ysabel has such a different feeling to it from his other books, that I was glad this wasn’t my first Guy Gavriel Kay book. A fast read, a lighter read that I normally expect from this author, but still an above average fantasy with lots going on to hold the readers attention.

Mar 16, 2011

overall a great addition to guy gavriel kay's work. My only complaint is the ending seems a little vague on details of just how Ned is able to save Melanie.

Feb 22, 2011

Guy Gavriel Kay is a legend in the world of Canadian fantasy fiction. His Finovar Tapestry is considered a classic of Canadian fantasy literature. Most of his most recent works have been more in the historical fantasy vein. Under Heaven is set in a fantastical Tang dynasty China. The Lions of al-Rassan is based on medieval Spain. All are rich, inter-woven stories full of well researched fact and well drawn characters.

In Ysabel, he turns out a work of contemporary Fantasy. Not quite a sequel to Finovar, it none-the-less has a couple of characters return from that great work to play minor roles. Instead, our main character is Ned Mariner is a seventeen year-old boy who follows his famous photographer father to the south of France. There he becomes part of a millennia old love triangle, where a Celt, a Greek and a woman are doomed to play out their tragedy over and over in what is part penance for their sins, part trying to fix what has happened in the past. The problem is this time, this ritual has claimed Ned's father's assistant Melanie for the role of Ysabel.

Now Ned and his family and friends race to see if they can find her before it's too late.

A slightly controversial book, Ysabel is essentially Kay's attempt at writing a YA novel, and to be fair, he does a good job at it. Yet at the same time the adult reader won't find it too simple. I get that some people are bothered by historical inaccuracies and the main characters choice of music, but if that is all you can nitpick in this book, then there is not that much to complain about.

Jan 31, 2011

I resisted reading this book for a great long while, partially because I was afraid of being disappointed and mostly because I just didn't have the time to pick it up.

That being said, while this is not one of Kay's best contributions, it is still a good story. The introduction of familiar faces from his previous series of books was a welcome surprise. The story wasn't terrible but it didn't leave me awe-struck either - there were no "oh my gosh!" moments like in Fionavar.

Would not recommend to someone as their first exposure to Kay, but would recommend to read after Fionavar.

Nov 01, 2010

I didn't set out to read this book. I ran out of stuff to read at home and my wife had this out from the library so I read it without knowing anything about the book. Despite all that though, I really enjoyed it. The book starts with a bit of a Divinci Code type feel but then mixes in elements of fantasy and mythology that reminded me almost of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It never really reaches the urgent pace or establishes enough sense of danger so as such it did get a bit slow in the middle. There were also too many minor undeveloped characters. However, it was a fun easy read, the main character is enjoyable, and reading about the ancient celtic history in france was neat. You'll want to visit this part of France after reading the book. I would definately recommend this if you like adventure, fantasy, or historical fiction.

Oct 12, 2010

A sort of sequel to Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry trilogy. I am a big fan of Mr. Kay's novels but have to admit this is not one of his best. It wasn't necessary to tie it in to Fionavar and in doing so he may have set people's expectations a bit too high. If you are new to his writing I would suggest starting with Tigana or Song for Arbonne.

Jun 30, 2010

I read this book for an english class assignment. It was full of details to discuss but was equally good. Not as good as some of the other books by GGK; his historical fantasy fiction is better, but pretty good.

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Jul 25, 2012

campbelh thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

May 22, 2010

becker thinks this title is suitable for 20 years and under


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Jul 25, 2012

Ned Marriner is spending springtime with his father in Provence, where the celebrated photographer is shooting images for a glossy coffee- table book.

While his father photographs the cathedral of Aix-en- Provence, Ned explores the shadowy interior with Kate Wenger, an American exchange student who has a deep knowledge of the area's history. They surprise an intruder in a place where he should not be: "I think you ought to go now" he tells them, drawing a knife. "You have blundered into a corner of a very old story."

In this sublime and ancient part of the world, where borders between the living and the long-dead are most vulnerable, Ned and those close to him are about to be drawn into a haunted tale, as mythic figures from conflicts of long ago erupt into the present, changing and claiming lives.


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