I love Guy Gavriel Kay’s work, having read the FIONAVAR TAPESTRY, TIGANA, YSABEL, UNDER HEAVEN and RIVER OF STARS. Granted, A SONG FOR ARBONNE is an earlier work, and the author becomes more accomplished as he hones his craft.
But I have to say that I found SONG FOR ARBONNE disappointing. I was unsure as to why Lissot (sp? – I only heard this book) was so much of a focus of this story, when she didn’t seem to have much to do with the events at hand. The only relevance she seemed to have was that she developed a crush on Blaise, one of the main characters, who appears to be a humble solider from Gorhault, only to turn into the Heir Presumptive to the throne.
If Lissot had had something more interesting to do rather than climbing over walls, and flirting with Blaise, I could have understood why there was so much focus on her. But her presence didn’t work with the arc of the story.
Perhaps this novel might have been improved if it had been told solely from Lissot’s point of view, so that we could enjoy seeing how she became the preeminent troubadour of the day, and what she thought about the troubling events surrounding her. Instead, too much time was spent amongst nobles caught in a Game of Thrones struggle for power. Three stars.