©2002 Guy Gavriel Kay; (P)2009 Penguin
A powerful story, rich in history and detail, despite not being set in any real historical events.
Yes, the first half an hour is a tad hard to follow, with a tremendous amount of new characters being rapidly introduced in a complex mish mash of time and geography. However, once events start unfolding, the story brims with magic and detail, and you find yourself engrossed. By the way, I don't mean magic in the fantastical sense of the word. I mean that Kay has created an alternate world, different from our own, and yet not so foreign that it doesn't ring true. It is simply a complex, rich place with traditions and beliefs and coincidences that start to weave together in a way that is full of mystery, awe and beauty... as well as a great deal of ugliness and hate.
The singing is wonderful, really filling out the politics, religion and geography of the region that start to feel familiar and tangible half way through the book. The mass of characters fill out, becoming very discernable individuals, clashing and coming together to tell this story. The story seems simple, but is brought together in a complex way.
Wonderful narration. And the singing! Superb.
Ok, I will admit to being a bit of a GGK fanboy. I love his work almost universally. I even have his book of poetry (I treasure it.)
That being said I found Last Light of the Sun hard to get into and the intro to the mosaic books very confusing.
Now that you know were I stand I will address A Song for Arbonne. The beginning of this book is tough. There are a lot of characters with strange names introduced very fast. This is hard to handle in the printed version. I found that with the wonderful character voices used in the audio version actual names became less important than knowing who was who from there voice. Buy the time the story gets rolling you learn the names.
The descriptive writing in this book is breath taking. People and places come to life. If you are a fan of music and the idea that something as everyday as a song can change the world this book is for you.
Often in audio books male readers butcher the female characters. I think this narrator did as good of a job with the females as the males. Multiple characters sing, both girls and boys, and they were all very well done. I really liked the slight but present troubadour style that was applied to the singing.
To sum up: A little hard at the very beginning but well worth the effort.
This is a beautiful, complex novel set in a fictional mediaeval world, probably the same world as his Sarantine series, but in a different area. Like most books by this author, the characters are complex, and the plot weaves richly together towards a stunning ending. It is very well read. Highly recommended.
This is my favorite performance of a book. For me what sets it apart is that the verses are sung instead of spoken. I read the book years ago, and it has always been one of my favorites, but Euan Morton's reading, and singing, of it really brought Arbonne alive for me with it's Court of Love and the exalting of Troubadours... He just brought out the different cultures that Guy Kay had created in a way that made them understandable to me. A great book written by Guy Kay, and read by Euan Morton...
The main character and his development are exceptional.
The characters and unexpected plot twists... and some of the expected ones.
He is consistent with his characters and even made the short singing parts worth hearing.
No, you have to pay too close attention to listen for very long periods.
Excellent use of a credit.
This is a top ranked story. I can't possibly give books a number rank, I've listened to too many. I'll go with percentages. This is a top ten percent book. I've never listened to or read anything by Kay, but I'll be diving into his works after this one.
The shadowing of history. This book mirrors, in a fantasy world, the Albigensian Crusade and the story of the Cathars.
Blaise definitely, but his women were soft and well done. No annoying high pitched voices or impressions that he was trying too hard.
It made me sigh. At the end. Because it was over.
This book was SO hard to listen to. Halfway through the book, it finally starts coming to a point, but by then I'm so bored of it. The characters all seem exactly the same, except for a few of them who are the main players of the tale. Unfortunately their names are unmemorable, and difficult to tell apart. I don't know who's who, and who's doing what, and why I should care. After listening to Tigana, I had hoped for a fantastic tale and I'm just so abysmally disappointed.
What a shame. I'm quitting halfway through the book because I just can't bear to waste anymore time on a story I can't become fully engrossed in because I can't figure out who the characters really are.
Kay remains a master at weaving together his fantastic tapestries, allowing for subtle character development and amazing world-creation.
The narrator underplays the difference between the characters' voices, so that it feels more like a single narrator throughout. The story itself it so engaging that I think this is wise, as different voices can be distracting. The inclusion of original tunes for the lyrics and a nice tenor definitely adds color to the story.
I'm a big fan of the book, but Morton's reading didn't work for me at all. His voices tend to sound similar to one another, and when he tries hard to differentiate them, they sound forced. I will give him credit for bringing the music to life - it's a key plot point in the book and he clearly worked at it. Perhaps it would require a cast rather than a single reader to really do this book justice.
This audiobook is probably more for those into character development than action. I bought this because I'm a fan of Euan Morton's narration, and that is the best part of this audiobook to me. Morton again is a marvel and who knew, he can even sing!
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