Provence, in the south of France, is a part of the world that has been—and continues to be—called a paradise. But one of the lessons that history teaches is that paradise is coveted and fought over. Successive waves of invaders have claimed—or tried to claim—those vineyards, rivers, olive groves, and hills.
In Guy Gavriel Kay’s new novel, Ysabel, this duality—of exquisite beauty and violent history—is explored in a work that marks a departure from Kay’s historical fantasies set in various analogues of the past.
Ysabel takes place in the world of today: in a modern springtime, in and around the celebrated city of Aix-en-Provence near Marseilles. Dangerous, mythic figures from the Celtic and Roman conflicts of the past erupt into the present, claiming and changing lives.
The protagonist is Ned Marriner, the fifteen year-old son of a well-known photographer. Ned has accompanied his father, Edward Marriner, and a team of assistants to Provence for a six week “shoot.”