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3.61  ·  Rating details ·  8,505 Ratings  ·  803 Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Guy Gavriel Kay's Ysabel is a departure of sorts for the Canadian author renowned for his historical fantasies (The Lions of Al-Rassan, The Last Light of the Sun, et al.). This is a contemporary fantasy set in the Provence region of France that chronicles the adventures of a 15-year-old boy who, while accompanying his famous photographer father
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated (first published January 9th 2007)
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Mar 17, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those without access to internet porn.
I'm not sure wtf is going on w/ Kay. He's always had William Shatner-esque tendencies towards the overly dramatic statement. (KHAN!!!) I find it annoying but bearable if the plot and characterization are decent (See his Fionavar Tapestry trilogy for example). Here he introduces a 2nd element that’s equally annoying: wrap the basic story in a wet blanket of obtuse statements. Much of the book is devoted to the characters either thinking or expounding on the fact that they don’t know anything. Fin ...more
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
I can see both sides of the debate people seem to be having about this book. Yes, it's not as rich and deep as his other work. Yes, sometimes it felt like you were trapped in the shallow end of a swimming pool, when you know that, if you could just get there, there's a dazzling, deep lagoon just beyond your reach. If you're familiar with Kay's work, this could be frustrating. But I think it's also clear that Kay wrote this story for his sons. As such, I'm grateful he shared it with us.

It was wo
Not at all representative of the general quality of the author's work. If this is your first read with Kay, I understand your rejection, but please try ANYTHING else and give him another chance. This is Evil Twin Imposter Kay, not real Kay, I promise!
Fifteen year old Ned goes on a trip with his famous photographer father and his team, who are setting up a major photo shoot in Provence. While exploring an old cathedral Ned meets a girl, Kate, who is visiting the area as an exchange student. They are checking out the baptistery of the church when Ned experiences a strange sense of deja vu and encounters a stranger climbing out of a hole in the floor. Things go from strange to bizarre when the stranger warns Ned to stay out things that don't co ...more
Jul 27, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Warning : I am not going to mark it as containing spoilers, because I think all examples I give are vague and do not give away plot points. But they are probably spoilerish about specific details, so if you are very careful about spoilers, better avoid this till you have read it. Though my advice really is: dont read it.

Back to the book, I should have known better. But in a way I am sort of glad to have read it, despite thinking it is really a quite bad book. There is a spoilerish link to anothe
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007, own, fantasy, ya
A bit of warning: Guy Gavriel Kay is only my most favorite author in the entire world. Given how many different authors I admire and follow, that's a pretty big honor for me to bestow. His novels evoke a certain range of emotions that no other author has ever been able to achieve, and without a doubt makes it impossible for me to honestly critique any of his books' weaknesses. Ysabel is no different, and if you take one thing from this review, it's that you should read it. Now.

Kay has mostly wri
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ignore the star rating on this book. I can't be objective about it.

There are a couple of characters in this book that are returning characters from an earlier Kay book, and that book is one of my favorite fantasy books of all time, and a particularly formative book personally. So when the returning character appears and makes a reference to something from the previous book I was stunned. Shocked in fact. And then this character continues in the book constantly making reference to the earlier boo
Reread in February 2010.

Since I first read Ysabel, I discovered all the rest of Guy Gavriel Kay's work and found that, really, Ysabel wasn't anything like the best he could do. I wouldn't say, now, that I loved Ysabel -- I loved the Fionavar trilogy, I loved Tigana, but I only liked Ysabel. The details I mentioned liking in my first review hold true, except that now I wish there was more of everything. The Darkest Road fits an amazing amount of things in 450 pages, enough to make me cry every ti
My friend Jen once in a while posts a list of words that probably don't exist in German, but should. Here's one: a book that makes you really really happy even though you're making a long list of its flaws as you read it.

A young adult story about two teenagers in the south of France stumbling into an ancient love triangle. Full of old cathedrals, and verbal photographs of the countryside, and family tensions and people coming through for each other.

Let's just preface every point I'm about to mak
This book is compelling - and it's a YA book, by the way; I don't care what the publisher says - with characters I liked, an unusual approach to the usual YA book Parental Dilemma (for once, the YA tells his parents about his problems; that hardly ever happens), and a plot that I enjoyed. It was a fast, fun read.

And then the ending kind of - um. I'm not exactly sure how, but in the last fifty pages or so, this went from being a four-star book to a three-star book for me; the ending felt simulta
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, france, 4-star
Ysabel is the story of a fifteen-year-old Canadian boy who is traveling with his photographer father in Provence, and who trips over a Story, getting pulled into something that has been recurring for 2500 years. Then his father’s assistant is pulled in even further, and the only ones who can get her back are Ned (the boy) and his family.

It read strangely like a boys’ adventure story. Since it’s GGK, it’s an exquisitely written boys’ adventure story, but … it’s almost entirely from Ned’s point of
Jan 19, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay.
One thing is, if you like Kay as much is i do/did, stay away from this.
It's a bit like a Dan Brown, with investigation in churches and acheological places in France, or Perez Reverte at best. But not the author of the lions of al Rassan and Tigana, i feel cheated, like coming home and finding my wife in bed with a rugby team. One can't come back from that and be innocent again.
I'm disapointed with you Guy.
The narrator is a teenager and the novel, from start to finish, i
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel just a few weeks ago, and since I've liked other stuff Kay has written, I decided to try this as well. I was very impressed. The characters are strong and believable. The situation was contemporary, but also very magical, and the way the characters interacted with the situation and each other was compelling. The resolution was very satisfying and I loved the way it worked. There was a price paid, but it was the right price, and it was very poignant ...more
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good read. A lot different than the other Kay I've read. It still had the same feel, but he did a good job of lightening his normal prose to make it YA friendly (without dumbing it down, as seems to happen in a lot of YA I've read). This novel ties into the Fionavar Tapestry, but it's not so much so that you need to read / like Fionavar before reading this. There are some character overlaps, but you don't need to know they are there to comprehend the story.
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Za ovu knjigu imam samo jednu rijec - PREDIVNO!!!! :-)
aPriL does feral sometimes
Innocent youth, move along. Nostalgic grownups, pass to the next review. My opinion is going to cause spluttering and defensive arguments, and maybe you'll want to call me names.

I hated this book. It bored me to tears. The dialogue was lame, SO lame, incredible pure misery to slog through, as painful as a bullet shot in the knee to read. The terrible repartee of our heroic family and friends had me soon skimming past hundreds of pages, wondering when something funny or interesting would be under
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Would not recommend and I've read 11 other books by Kay so I know what I'm talking about here.
Mar 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Guy Gavriel Kay has gotten somewhat away from writing long, complex, interwoven stories and started writing shorter, quicker reading ones. The work suffers a bit simply because Kay is so good at what he does that the books are finished all too soon, you end up wishing there was more there to be had. But because they're that good, you're still really happy you read them.

This is a beautiful fantasy set in the modern day. Most of those come off as pretty hackneyed but Kay makes it work. His beauti
Jul 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to rivka by: Christine
My only regret is that this book sat unread on my shelves for several years after I received it via Booksfreeswap.

It is an absolutely marvelous tale of what is often called "urban fantasy", although the setting is primarily various parts of the Provencal countryside. History, fantasy, myth, and the real world are expertly woven together. The author has an equally deft hand at sketching place and character -- minimal brushstrokes to maximal effect. I did not see the ending coming, but in retrospe
Nov 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ned and his photographer father are in Provence to shoot a book when Ned sees something he shouldn't be able to see and gets involved in an ancient story he shouldn't have any ties to. But when a member of his father's staff is drawn into the story because of Ned, he's going to do whatever it takes to get her back. I loved the juxtoposition of present and past. More importantly, I liked Ned a lot. He was a teenager caught between childhood and manhood and he knows ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up as a fantasy fan in Canada, Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry was almost required reading. Fortunately, it's also one of my all-time favorite fantasy sagas, so the requirement was more of an invitation. If you've never given it a read, I urge you to go out and grab yourself a copy as soon as possible.

Anyway, I drifted away from Kay for a while, and then made the mistake of drifting back with Sailing to Sarantium. Not that there's anything wrong with that book - it's actually qui
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.75* of five
Since there are no 3/4 stars, I've had to round this up to 4. I liked the book very much, and I found reading it very easy. I like the PoV character, Ned, and found his development from adolescent smartass to postadolescent smart youth involving.

Apparently this book winds up a series of books about its semi-immortal characters, doomed to replay and replay their ancient passionate triangle through millennia of time. The accidental instrusion of Ned, his aunt, his uncle-by-mar
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed and frustrated by this book. I usually really enjoy this author. His other books take place in Medieval settings. This one took place in the present, with echoes of a story from the past. The problem was that he put a lot of energy into describing the present. He mostly did it by endlessly describing minutia of present day life and describes in great detail how the character downloaded songs from the internet, and then put his running clothes on, grabbed his i-pod and couple o ...more
Nov 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, fantasy
When fifteen-year-old Ned Marriner accompanies his famous photographer father to a town in the south of France, he expects some time off from school and a nice vacation. He doesn’t expect to meet Kate Wenger, an American exchange student who he likes instantly. And they don’t expect to meet a man with a knife, who tells them that they have stumbled into a very old story, and they should remove themselves from it if they know what’s good for them.

And so Ned and his family and friends find themsel
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book seems to be some sort of sequel to the Fionavar Tapestry - insofar as some characters are taken from there and as such it's not a standalone. Kay makes very sure of that as he never gives you the forever hinted at backstory of the the sisters.

There are major other flaws.

- The red hair as an indicator of relatives, albeit one of the redheads is admittedly dyed.
- What is it with the perpetually recurring love-triangles? Kay seems to be fascinated with them.
- I enjoy a rich description an
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an incredibly evocative novel. I mean that it really gives you a feel for where it is set and makes you want to visit there. This book is a Celtic/Modern Day ghost story set in Aix En Provence, France. The author has obviously spent a lot of time there, not only figuring out where things are and the history, but the feel of the place, how the sunlight makes the castles look in the morning and again at sunset.
I was struck by the amount of history contained in certain regions of Europe. I
Ysabel is an amazing story that, in typical G.G.Kay style, blends the past and the present - and does it beautifully. Reading Kay's prose is such a treat - it's so beautiful and effortless, and the plot is fascinating and original. I always feel that his characters are living, breathing human beings. I didn't have quite the visceral reaction to the ending of Ysabel, that I did with Lord of Emperors (I sat on the bathroom floor and cried for hours, but maybe I shouldn't include this personal stor ...more
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 or 3.5 stars. I love Guy Gavriel Kay's writing and have LOVED the other books of his that I have read (Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan)--they were 5 star reads for sure. This one, while enjoyable, was like GGK-lite. The story just wasn't as rich and deep as the others, the characters weren't developed enough for me to care so very deeply for them, and I didn't finish the book thinking the author was an absolute genius, even though I know he is :).

I really like the writing, the setting and ho
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my favorite authors and I ended up loving this book. It was poignant and Kay's favorite themes of love, sacrifice, and loss resonate in this contemporary fantasy.

I will say that it took me awhile to get into this book; I think I was a little put off by the main protagonist, Ned, who is a teenager. But the supporting cast is superb and both Ned and Kate felt like real teens, even in the unusual circumstances in which they found themselves.

Not all questions are answer
Dani (Pen to Paper)
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This was the first time I'd listened to a proper audiobook since I was a child, and I think it was one of the best I could have chosen to get me back into them. I've only really listened to very short audiobooks (usually episodes of Fry's English Delight or something similar) or episodes of audio plays in the last few years, so listening to a novel in audiobook form again has been an interesting and enjoyable experience.
This review will not only be for the story itself, but also for the audiobo
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Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction. Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid. Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy, though the author himself has expressed a preference to shy away from genre categoriz ...more
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