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Guy Gavriel Kay: Ysabel

There was a time when I thought that GGK walked on water. He was one of my "buy instantly in hard cover" authors. No longer. His work has gone slowly downhill since... oh, I don't know, maybe Lions. Very slowly. More a sense that he wasn't doing anything really new. His writing is beautiful and his research is thorough and he does what he does well, but. One tires of it.

I had some hopes for this one, because it's NOT historical; it's set in the "real" world, and is one of those fantasies where things from the faery realms come out and cause difficulties for someone or someones in our world. More, it's one of those where an age old story is being retold over again for the umpteenth time and someone in this generation gets caught in it. Oh boy, Alan Garner did it so much better in The Owl Service. And how many times is GGK going to DO love triangles? I rather think I'd be nervous of being romantically involved with him, because I think he might be one of those people who thinks that love is only real and meaningful if it's TRAGIC and everyone dies in the end. I know the type, because I'm rather like that, having been completely corrupted by having seen Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet at a very impressionable age.

This novel reads almost like a Young Adult novel, perhaps because the protagonist is one, perhaps because it's fairly slight and a quick read for Kay and doesn't have quite as much of the angst and anguish we normally associate with his work. Some, but not quite as much.

A few things annoyed me - one was a little technical carelessness. The protagonist's father is a famous photographer and at one point is described as taking some shots with a digital camera and some with an SLR. ahem. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as almost any but the most rank amateur photographer would know.

He has a stylistic tic of insisting on calling certain characters by both their first and last names all the time. For no apparent reason. And I find it tiresome.

All this is not to say that this is a waste of your time or even money. I did enjoy it overall, and the ultimate pay-off is quite satisfying. I found myself engaged with the young hero, and would rather like to read more about him, if Kay could leave his tragic threesome somewhere in another dimension next time out.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
intertext
Jan. 28th, 2007 04:29 am (UTC)
Oh, yes - "My So-Called Life"! I loved it. I particularly loved Clare Danes, so luminous. I don't remember that particular aspect of it - but yes, you've got the idea. It's very annoying.
ellarien
Jan. 28th, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
I was reading a fanfic yesterday where the narrator referred to the protagonist by his first and last names in alternate sentences, with hardly a pronoun in sight. I could only get through it by pretending that most of them were 'he'.

intertext
Jan. 28th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
yes, it's amazing how something like that can be so intrusive in the reading experience!
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