wilderthan: ((Fujin) Won't understand)
[personal profile] wilderthan
I've reviewed A Song for Arbonne before, but it was hardly adequate, and I need to review it again for it to count for my "read my own height in books" challenge, and I've come to like it so very much more since the first time I read it.

As I pointed out before, I'm aware that technically this book is part of Guy Gavriel Kay's alternate history type books -- not sure how exactly to describe them, because I am still not familiar with the events the book is based on. Maybe one day I should find out, and then reread it to write a review with that in mind. For now, as before, I stuck to seeing it as pure fantasy and it didn't hurt any to do that. It doesn't matter what historical connections can be drawn, Guy Gavriel Kay still writes a fully realised world. It'd be surprising how little space he needs to do that, if I wasn't already aware of his skills. He sets up the conflicts easily, sets up the reasons, sets up the religions. I'm half in love with Arbonne myself.

I do think that it's a bit of a poetical ideal, more that than a realistic place. It somehow doesn't bother me, though.

Character-wise, I got to like the characters more this time round. Blaise and Ranald, especially. Their family is so broken and painful, and Kay does a good job in this book of showing how far small splits within and between families can carry -- as with Bertran and Urté. Blaise is a little irritating at first, but he does develop into a character worthy of being king. Ranald is... pathetic. But he redeems himself somewhat and I actually cried at his death. It's more pity for the opportunities lost than attachment to the character.

Bertran... I liked him better from the beginning, knowing what I know about his past, because I knew what he was doing. Again, there's a good job of showing his wasted potential.

The romance also didn't bother me as much this time. I still don't think it's Kay's strong point. A lot of it comes out of nowhere, and while love isn't rational, I'd like just a bit more explanation.

I do have a couple of quibbles with the book. The writing is lovely -- tastes nice -- but sometimes it becomes just a bit too poetical and lyrical and faintly... old-fashioned. It suits the tone of the book, because the whole of Arbonne is like that. It has a kind of enchantment of its own, but I feel kind of wary about reccing this book to people I know in case it doesn't work for them and they cry purple prose. I think it walks a delicate line, and for me, it doesn't cross it. But I know for some people it definitely does. More so than his other books, maybe.

Also, what the hell is with all the women wanting Blaise? Come on. One man is not all that attractive -- he isn't even given the nicest character at first, but there's all these women falling into bed with him! Ariane, Lucianna, Rosala, Lisseut...

I would have liked more of the minor characters, like Rudel and Valery. Rudel would have been lots of fun, and Valery was just one of those characters that gets to me -- loyal and quiet and unflinching.

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Eden

October 2013

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