Posted on November 20, 2008 by Flames
I first came across Kay about three years ago when someone from out sci-fi/fantasy book club chose one of his books. Tigana. It was such a rich and beautiful book that I immediately went out and read the Fionavar Tapestry (a three book trilogy) and really liked it as well. So, I have been waiting for this to come in trade peperback for a while and finally bought it recently.
The story revolved around a fifteen year old boy named Ned. He is from Canada and the son of a famous photographer. They are in France, and on site at Aix-en-Provence’s Saint-Saveur Cathedral. His mother is in the Sudan doing missionary work, so that is something they always have to deal with. While searching the site, he meets Kate Wenger, a girl from america that is a bundle of information. They stumble across a love story that goes back over two thousand years.
The plot revolves around a love triangle involviing Ysabel (that is her name in this reincarnation), a Celtic chief, and a roman. The two men try to win the love of Ysabel and will do anything to get it. They have fought time and time again to win her love. Both have won and lost, but they cannot help but continue the endless battle. The story really takes off when someone Ned knows is brought in and taken over as a “avatar” by Ysabel. It then becomes a race against time to try to find a way to bring that person back.
What made this book so fun to read was Kay’s mix of both modern and historical elements. You really could feel the history when Ned and Kate went searching for answer. It was a bit haunting at times and very well written. The relationship between them was kind of cute too, if not a bit predictable. But who hasn’t been a fifteen year old kid and meet someone that you have a crush on. It is ackward, but something most people take with them for a long time to come.
It was also interesting how they used magic in the book. Ned had the magic, but did not ever know anything about it. It is something he stumbled upon and then tried to deal with the ramifications of it. It was a family thing and that only caused more problems that I won’t go into here.
As I said, it became a race against time. Ned and his family and friends did everything they could to try to stop the inevitable. Some of the other characters did not really do much for me. His father was not that interesting. Steve was kind of boring, but Melanie was funny as the ocd girl that always had Ned’s day planned for him. Even if he did not want it.
Now for the bad. Some of it was cliched. Ned’s journey to manhood and discovering his magic like that has been done quite a bit. Also as much as I liked him and Kate, it was also a bit predictable. These are minor complaints to a very good story though.
My rating. Amazingly good read. 8.0 out of 10. Overall this was a beautifully written novel that really took advantage of its setting. The past and present were woven together in a well designed way. It was a bit haunting from time to time and the tension was very high most of the time.
Review by Stacey Chancellor