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3.8 57
by Guy Gavriel Kay

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From the renowned author of Children of Earth and Sky, A Song for Arbonne, and Tigana

Saint-Sauveur Cathedral of Aix-en-Provence is an ancient structure of many secrets-a perfect monument to fill the lens of a celebrated photographer, and a perfect place for the photographer's son, Ned Marriner, to lose himself while his father works.


From the renowned author of Children of Earth and Sky, A Song for Arbonne, and Tigana

Saint-Sauveur Cathedral of Aix-en-Provence is an ancient structure of many secrets-a perfect monument to fill the lens of a celebrated photographer, and a perfect place for the photographer's son, Ned Marriner, to lose himself while his father works.

But the cathedral isn't the empty edifice it appears to be. Its history is very much alive in the present day-and it's calling out to Ned...

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Ysabel

"Stylish...vivid and satisfying with moments of sublime eeriness."—Washington Post
“Evocative writing ... fascinating characters ... will enthrall mainstream as well as fantasy readers.”
—Publisher’s Weekly
"Ysabel is the child of Kay’s long love affair with Provence, the sunny, haunted region in the south of France which has enspelled him as it has so many... Kay knows this world intimately, and he presents it with a fresh, deft hand...everything fits."—Locus

Praise for the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay
“[Read] anything by Guy Gavriel Kay... His strengths are strong characters and fantastic set pieces.”—The New Yorker  
“History and fantasy rarely come together as gracefully or readably as they do in the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay.”—The Washington Post Book World
“Kay is a genius. I've read him all my life and am always inspired by his work.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson 
"A storyteller on the grandest scale."—Time Magazine, Canada

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 on a six-week shoot of an ancient cathedral in Aix-en-Provence, stumbles into a millennia-old conflict involving the spirits of a Celtic warrior and a Roman trader who are in love with the same woman. Even death cannot end the love the two men feel for her: Year after year, decade after decade, century after century, the supernatural battle continues (replete with druids, ghostly boars and wolves, etc.) until young Ned Marriner unknowingly becomes involved and, in the process, uncovers jaw-dropping secrets concerning the bloody history of Provence, his extended family -- and himself.

Unlike the Celtic priests referenced in Ysabel, readers will not have to make sense of bird entrails or interpret oracular pigs to know that Kay's latest novel is an utterly readable storytelling tour de force. Ysabel is as meticulously researched and richly detailed as any (and all) of Kay's works, but longtime fans may be a bit surprised by the decidedly adolescent narrative voice and unusually straightforward plotlines in this book. Featuring a typical, hormonal 15-year-old boy as the novel's protagonist (equipped with iPod, cell phone, sarcastic attitude, etc.), Kay's first full-fledged contemporary fantasy should, however, broaden his readership immensely. Blending historical fantasy and psychological thriller with a paranormal-powered coming-of-age tale, Ysabel will not only appeal to adult fantasy readers but also to adolescents who have enjoyed authors that feature compelling teen protagonists -- such as J. K. Rowling and Christopher Paolini. Paul Goat Allen
Michael Sims
… Kay tells a vivid and satisfying tale, with moments of sublime eeriness when past and present blur.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Kay (The Last Light of the Sun) departs from his usual historical fantasies to connect the ancient, violent history of France to the present day in this entrancing contemporary fantasy. Fifteen-year-old Canadian Ned Marriner accompanies his famous photographer father, Edward, on a shoot at Aix-en-Provence's Saint-Saveur Cathedral while his physician mother, Meghan, braves the civil war zone in Sudan with Doctors Without Borders. As Ned explores the old cathedral, he meets Kate Wenger, a geeky but attractive American girl who's a walking encyclopedia of history. In the ancient baptistry, the pair are surprised by a mysterious, scarred man wielding a knife who warns that they've "blundered into a corner of a very old story. It is no place for children." But Ned and Kate can't avoid becoming dangerously entangled in a 2,500-year-old love triangle among mythic figures. Kay also weaves in a secondary mystery about Ned's family and his mother's motivation behind her risky, noble work. The author's historical detail, evocative writing and fascinating characters-both ancient and modern-will enthrall mainstream as well as fantasy readers. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ned Marriner joins his father, the famous photographer Edward Marriner, for an extended stay in Provence, an area of France steeped in both Celtic and Roman history. Then, a visit to Saint-Sauveur Cathedral in the town of Aix brings Ned together with Kate Wenger, an American exchange student, and a man who appears to be much, much older than one would think—and both Ned and Kate become caught up in another time where the reenactment of an old story draws the two young people into a cycle of myths and legends in which truth, love, courage, and sacrifice are the only things that matter. An explorer of history and myths, Kay (The Last Light of the Sun) has a special affinity for the people behind the larger-than-life legends that persist through time. His latest fantasy blends time and place in a crossing of worlds and universal truths. Highly recommended.

—Jackie Cassada

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay is the internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels. His work has been translated into over 30 languages. At the outset of his career Kay assisted in the editorial construction of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. He has also written for the Washington Post, the Globe and Mail, The National Post, and The Guardian, among others, and has spoken at literary events around the world. He was won numerous literary awards, and is the recipient of the International Goliardos Prize for his contributions to the literature of the fantastic. In 2014 he was named to the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honour.

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Ysabel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
sugarpy18 More than 1 year ago
This book is so brilliantly written that I couldn't put it down. The author was able to weave history and fantasy together so precisely that you actually believe that the story is real.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Renowned Canadian photographer Edward Marriner takes his teenage son Ned with him as he shoots the medieval constructed Saint-Sauveur Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence. Though enjoying their Southern France locale, the male Marinners worry about the females in the family, Ned¿s mom and Edward¿s wife Meghan, a Doctors Without Borders volunteer, currently serving in the dangerous Sudan. While exploring a centuries old cathedral without a guide, Ned meets American exchange student, Kate Wenger, a ¿Wikepedia¿ of local historical information. The self-proclaimed female geek takes Ned on a tour of the cathedral, but whereas she sees mystery and beauty he sees a mess of old rocks. However at the baptistry, circa 500 AD, a man who does not belong there holding a knife warns them to leave, as this not a safe place for children to play. However, unable to depart, Ned and Kate become entangled in an ancient love triangle that could prove deadly to the two teenage twenty-first century intruders. --- YSABEL is a terrific contemporary fantasy with a historical base that grips the audience once the teen explorers meet the man with the knife and never slows down through a series of clever twists until the final event involving two sisters directly related to Ned. The story line is fast-paced and filled with historical depth especially involving the Cathedral and the love triangle, but also contains a strong cast whether they lived in ancient times or today. The final spin will stun the audience as Guy Gavriel Kay ties everything brilliantly together in an enthralling enlightening epic. --- Harriet Klausner
NemesisYO More than 1 year ago
this story has everything!!!!! at the beginning I was not expecting much, but as soon I started reading I was not able to stop for a second...
pdt More than 1 year ago
This was an interestingly original book with twists & turns. Not as deep as the Da Vinci Code, which makes it an easier & quicker book to read. I loved it because of it's originality.
GGKCRUSADER More than 1 year ago
This author's imagination & mind never ceases to amaze and enthral me. Another great work!
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first, I thought this book would be another DaVinci Code like story (which, quite frankly, is the reason I bought it), but I was soon disproved---at least for the most part. Regardless, I was not only captivated, but totally enthralled by it's engaging plot. I recommend this book to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Things are interesting from the get-go! Guy gives you an obscure few pages at the beginning, but then plunges you right in! It's hard to take a breath once Ned discovers what he should or shouldn't have in that wonderful cathedral!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh, what a gift. For those of us who have read and re-read the Fionavar Tapestry and wished for more, this was such a lovely gift. Anytime Kay publishes a book, it's a celebration of prose, but this was all of that and a long-awaited homecoming as well. The story is freah and interesting, and we are enveloped in intrigue and mystery on a contemporary plane while becoming intimately involved in an eternal saga. The emotions in this book were rare and invited us to be empathetic with all of the characters. Heart-breaking and astonishing, this was absolutely the most perfect conclusion to the Fionavar tapestry that I could never have imagined.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It is the first I've read by this author, but certainly not the last.
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I'm struggling to finish this book, due to it's poorly plotted story and few of the characters are interesting enough to care what is in their future. I have a grandson this age, and the author has failed to make his protagonist believable as a fifteen year old boy. Further, his female characters lack dimension and likability. Based on some of the reviews, I thought this would be a much better book then it actually is, and although I really like original fantasy, I don't believe I would read any of this author's other work.
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Kelley_J More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book. I love the mystery, suspense, and love. I love when a book throws you for a loop and surprises you at the end, and everything just falls into place! Great book!
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