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09 March 2007 @ 10:42 am
Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay  
Title: Ysabel
Guy Gavriel Kay
# of Pages:
421 (hardcover)
Rating: A
(from inside cover) Ned Marriner is spending six weeks with his father in France, where the celebrated photographer is shooting Saint-Sauveur Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence. Both father and son fear for Ned's mother--a physician with Doctors Without Borders, currently assigned to the civil war-torn country of Sudan. This is not the first time she's placed herself in harm's way to help alleviate suffering--and Ned has inherited her courage. He'll need it.

While exploring the cathedral, Ned meets Kate Wenger, an American exchange student with a deep knowledge of the area's history. But even Kate is at a loss when she and Ned surprise a scar-faced stranger, wearing a leather jacket and carrying a knife, deep inside the cathedral. "I think you ought to go now," he tells them. "You have blundered into a corner of a very old story..."

In this ancient place, where the borders between the living and the long-dead are thin, Ned and his family are about to be drawn into a haunted tale, as mythic figures from conflicts of long ago erupt into the present, changing--and claiming--lives.

An amazing novel, as one would expect from GGK. I doubt that any review of mine could do it justice. The plot, characterization, setting, and prose are all excellent. I especially liked the little hints and inside jokes for loyal fans; this book is a side sequel of sorts for The Fiovanar Tapestry, with two reoccuring characters. Detail-wise, I especially liked the Veracook/Veraclean distinction, because little things like that are so realistic, what any tourist family might do. Ned's defeat of the mountain is exhilarating and keeps him from Gary-Stu-ism, as he is far from perfect or powerful. A minor quibble I had was with the brand-dropping at the beginning--Ned goes running in Nikes and listens to his iPod. It seems like the author is trying too hard to maintain a modern setting, and it will date the novel quickly.

Cross-posted to fantasywithbite and my personal journal.