John's Reviews > Ysabel

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
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's review
Mar 17, 2008

did not like it
Recommended 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. Fine, we get it, you’re confused. Must you tell us about it on every page? I guess so.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Kay bring back 2 characters from the Fionavar Tapestry for this story. Then he completely fails to properly introduce or develop them.
To make it worse they run around scaring off bad guys and saving the main character by bragging about their powers and/or ‘connections‘ off screen, i.e. in Gaelic. You never have any idea wtf they’re saying. If you hadn’t read the other books, this would make NO SENSE. They use references to events in another story, in another language, to make themselves look tough. Things like this work better if you....well....EXPLAIN THEM. My irritation level only rose when I realized that there was to be no back story about these characters, rather they just talk endlessly about how they can’t talk about their past.

If I was the main character in this book, I would have popped a few Xanax, murdered everyone around me and gone off to solve the mystery by myself.

His previous book, Last Light of the Sun was well written. It didn’t necessarily progress in the traditional story arc of a fantasy novel (which is not necessarily a bad thing) but it had good prose and was definitely not painful to read. Not the case here. What was a really interesting idea just doesn’t go anywhere.
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Reading Progress

March 17, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
March 18, 2008 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Russell Uresti I have't read the Fionavar Tapestry, but I assume you're talking about Aunt Kim; and, having never read that book, I can tell you that their back story wasn't a necessary component to this story. Sure, you get curious as to who they are and what they did, but part of the whole message of the book is that life tends to leave you with more questions than answers.

Personally, I enjoyed this book on the merits of its own story.

message 2: by Milo (new)

Milo KHAN!!!

message 3: by Jen (new)

Jen Brown St.SAVEUR Cathedral? What is this, a book about restaurants? It's St-Sauveur !

Chris Just finished this, and your review is spot on. Nothing is answered, nothing is solved. A complete waste of reading time.

Daniel2 This review is accurate.

Wendy Agree with what you say about the Gaelic stuff, but disagree with the "need" to properly introduce Aunt Kim and Uncle Dave. I didn't want to know more about them, but would have preferred less of them. But a big YES to the comment about people commenting on how much they don't know anything -- slows the book down considerably.

Kater Cheek I read a couple of books of the Fionavar tapestry and still had no idea that any of these characters came from that series. Martinuyik seemed a familiar name, but I didn't know why. This explains why they felt so underdeveloped and out-of-place.

Tria I'll be frank, this review had me rolling my eyes. I read "Ysabel" years before I ever read the Fionavar trilogy, and I'll tell you this: I had absolutely no problem or confusion over Kim and Dave's backstory. It seems ridiculous to me that anyone could. The book is supposed to be largely from the perspective of a teenage boy, and since when do most guys Ned's age probe into every single reference people make around them that's even slightly cryptic, or related to spirituality or mythology? Because I've yet to have met even one who did. Seems rather off-balance to me, to be essentially complaining that the author didn't have him ask more questions about stuff that hadn't really that much to do with him. Also, you complain about the pace - would it not have ended up s great deal slower if GGK had decided to add all that backstory in? Especially since it would necessarily have been in the form of "tell, don't show"? I don't mean to insult you, but some of your complaints about this book seem to me to be just a bit contradictory of themselves. That being the case, it's a bit odd to consider *his* writing as the piece that's confused.

Eh, I'm not here to start a fight; I'm off. You hate what you want to hate - just do *try* to think and/or write more coherently & reasonably about it...

Tria *a great deal (GoodReads app for Android won't let me edit typos, grrr.)

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