Authors: Guy Gavriel Kay
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #General
“The past and the present are intertwined in this stylish novel … Kay tells a vivid and satisfying tale, with moments of sublime eeriness.”
The Washington Post
“Kay is at his finest … There are many writers who have shown us the gods walking among us, the age-old stories alive in the modern world. Rare are those able to demonstrate that those gods, those stories, live within us, and are as essential to our existence as oxygen. Guy Gavriel Kay is one of those rare few, and
is a splendid addition to his body of work.”
The Globe and Mail
“Kay is such an excellent writer. He establishes a potent challenge for his modern characters, who are well-drawn and consistently believable in their reactions. He gives them no option but to follow this course of fantastical events to its logical conclusion. This book is exciting—a real page turner.”
“The story is compelling, the pace is tantalizing and Kay makes the most of the splendid south of France. You can just about taste it.”
Calgary Herald Review
as much as the trilogy Kay was first known for, is an unpredictable, sometimes disquieting adventure—a
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Winnipeg Free Press
“Kay has fashioned a taut and moving thriller, which also happens to be a powerful story of the complexities of family love and loss … The suspense will hold readers in thrall to the surprising conclusion. As Guy Gavriel Kay’s first venture into contemporary fantasy,
is just fantastic.”
is a bizarre and complex mix of themes, told with surprising ease; the winding tale reads almost effortlessly, concealing Kay’s doubtless hours of research and work to keep the layered stories together … This is unquestionably the work of a master.”
“Infused with actual history and actual settings … If only more fantasy were like this book.”
] reads like a perfectly cut jewel … The plot is necessarily complex, but is told with meticulous and merciless speed, like a really fine thriller … And Kay is [so] superb on the landscape and the artifacts of Provence … that one remembers being there.”
Science Fiction Weekly
“Kay has a special affinity for the people behind the largerthan-life legends that persist through time. His latest fantasy blends time and place in a crossing of worlds and universal truths. Highly recommended.”
“Outstanding characters, folklore, and action add up to another Kay must-read.”
“Evocative writing … fascinating characters … Will enthrall mainstream as well as fantasy readers.”
“Kay brings a touch of the otherworldliness to present-day France … A powerful, engrossing read, which will satisfy Kay’s many fans and newcomers alike.”
Quill & Quire
GUY GAVRIEL KAY
is the author of ten novels and a volume of poetry. He won the 2008 World Fantasy Award for
, has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize, and is a two-time winner of the Aurora Award. His works have been translated into more than twenty languages and have appeared on bestseller lists around the world.
ALSO BY GUY GAVRIEL KAY
The Fionavar Tapestry
The Summer Tree
The Wandering Fire
The Darkest Road
A Song for Arbonne
The Lions of Al-Rassan
The Sarantine Mosaic
Sailing to Sarantium
Lord of Emperors
The Last Light of the Sun
Beyond This Dark House
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in Viking Canada hardcover by Penguin Group (Canada),
a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 2007
Published in Penguin Canada paperback by Penguin Group (Canada),
a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 2007
Published in this edition, 2010
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (OPM)
Copyright © Guy Gavriel Kay, 2007
Author representation: Westwood Creative Artists
94 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1G6
Epigraph on page ix from “Juan at the Winter Solstice,”
Complete Poems in One Volume
, by Robert Graves. Reprinted with permission of Carcanet Press Limited.
Epigraph on page 507 from G:
by John Berger, copyright © 1972 by John Berger. Used by permission of Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
Publisher’s note: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Manufactured in the U.S.A.
LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION
Kay, Guy Gavriel
Ysabel / Guy Gavriel Kay.
PS8571.A935Y83 2010 C813’.54 C2010-900454-X
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There is one story and one story only
That will prove worth your telling,
Whether as learned bard or gifted child;
To it all lines or lesser gauds belong
That startle with their shining
Such common stories as they stray into.
he woods came to the edge of the property: to the gravel of the drive, the electronic gate, and the green twisted-wire fence that kept out the boars. The dark trees wrapped around one other home hidden along the slope, and then stretched north of the villa, up the steep hill into what could properly be called a forest.
The wild boar—sanglier—foraged all around, especially in winter. Occasionally there might be heard the sound of rifle shots, though hunting was illegal in the oak trees and clearings surrounding such expensive homes. The well-off owners along the Chemin de l’Olivette did what they could to protect the serenity of their days and evenings here in the countryside above the city.
Because of those tall eastern trees, dawn declared itself—at any time of year—with a slow, pale brightening, not the disk of the sun itself above the horizon. If someone were watching from the villa windows or terrace they would see the black cypresses on the lawn slowly shift towards green and take form from the top downwards, emerging from the silhouetted sentinels
they were in the night. Sometimes in winter there was mist, and the light would disperse it like a dream.
However it announced itself, the beginning of day in Provence was a gift, celebrated in words and art for two thousand years and more. Somewhere below Lyon and north of Avignon the change was said to begin: a difference in the air above the earth where men and women walked, and looked up.
No other sky was quite what this one was. Any time of year, any season: whether a late autumn’s cold dawn or midday in drowsy summer among the cicadas. Or when the knife of wind—the mistral—ripped down the Rhone valley (the way soldiers had so often come), making each olive or cypress tree, magpie, vineyard, lavender bush, aqueduct in the distance stand against the wind-scoured sky as if it were the first, the perfect, example in the world of what it was.
Aix-en-Provence, the city, lay in a valley bowl west of the villa. No trees in that direction to block the view from this high. The city, more than two thousand years old, founded by Romans conquering here—surveying and mapping, levelling and draining, laying down pipes for thermal springs, and their dead-straight roads—could be seen on spring mornings like this one crisply defined, almost supernaturally clear. Medieval houses and modern ones. A block of new apartment buildings on a northern slope, and—tucked into the old quarter—the bell tower of the cathedral rising.
They would all be going there this morning. A little
later than this, but not too much so (two alarm clocks had gone off in the house by now, the one woman was already showering). You didn’t want to linger of a morning, not with what they were here to do.
Photographers knew about this light.
They would try to use it, to draw upon it as someone with a thirst might have drawn from an ancient well—then again at twilight to see how doorways and windows showed and shadowed differently when the light came from the west, or the sky was blood-red with sunset underlighting clouds, another kind of offering.
Gifts of different nuance, morning and evening here (noon was too bright, shadowless, for the camera’s eye). Gifts not always deserved by those dwelling—or arriving—in a too-beautiful part of the world, where so much blood had been shed and so many bodies burned or buried, or left unburied, through violent centuries.
But as to that, in fairness, were there so many places where the inhabitants, through the long millennia, could be said to have been always worthy of the blessings of the day? This serene and savage corner of France was no different from any other on earth—in that regard.
There were differences here, however, most of them long forgotten by the time this morning’s first light showed above the forest and found the flowering Judas trees and anemones—both purple in hue, both with legends telling why.
The tolling of the cathedral bells drifted up the valley. There was no moon yet. It would rise later, through the bright daylight: a waxing moon, one edge of it severed.