So what didn t I like about it Well, pretty much everything.
This book, in short, tells about the vengeful crusade of a group of refugees from the once great city of Tigana, destroyed years before by the mage Brandin.
Cool, uh Nope.
For starters, nobody cares about the destruction of Tigana In fact, the protagonists want revenge simply because Brandin erased the name of the city from the memories of everyone.
Thousands of deaths Who cares But don t you dare touch the name of our city This is a pitiful excuse to set the plot in motion but every time it s mentioned every character in the scene will start crying like a baby at the atrocity When Devin, a famous singer, learns he s a descendant of a Tiganian he immediately abandons his career to swear eternal vengeance against Brandin and spend the rest of his life despairing on Oh how horrible a fate his native country had.
Really Really He didn t even know it existed 5 minutes ago Not to mention that the war that destroyed Tigana has been over for decades Overreactions like this one are constant because Tigana strives SO hard to be emotional, ALWAYS.
Not a chapter will come to pass without someone crying and despairing over the silliest things or without a completely random scene of oppression at the expenses of an equally random previously unseen character.
This, together with the incredibly contrived dialogues and a plot that relies entirely on happenstance, contributes to create a story that feels forced from start to finish.
The single most obnoxious thing that alone would have made me drop this book is the narration.
You will never, NEVER see anything happen An action scene is approaching Nope There s always a fade out and then someone will tell you what happened in a couple paragraphs At least half of this book is made of digressions and internal monologues telling you things that should have been shown What s The use of sex as plot device is pitiully cheap, the prose is so flowery it made my eyes bleed, the pace is awfully slow, the characters are cardboard cutouts that will constantly try to be as annoying as humanly possible.
Brandin, the only vaguely interesting character, is a puppet made of cheesy cliches he s a morally gray woe stricken antagonist pitied by the female protagonist, and an all powerful mage that can do ANYTHING but won t because uh you know the laws of magic and all that.
But rest assured he IS the most interesting character by far.
The few good details such as the riselka, mysterious spirit that will sometimes appear to humans as an omen are completely overshadowed by the bad ones.
oh Tigana 20 years ago, the warring lands of the peninsula known as The Palm were invaded and conquered by two opposing Tyrants, and split into two during this time of war and magic, one land was punished, transformed, forgotten 20 years later, a band of men and women fight to reclaim that land, its history, their memories oh Tigana SPOILERS FOLLOWmemories of a distant life can be a strange and beautiful and sorrowful thing i can remember places, scenes, people in the land where i was born, far away from here, long ago a dilapidated mansion in the fields muddy streets, the smell of cooking meat and the sound of laughter, the sour tang of the food, mangos a great grandmother in front of a cookpot in a dark house, a grandmother drunk and curled up in a corner, an uncle holding my hand do these things define me, are they a part of what make me who i am today it is hard to say at times, they feel like stories i ve read, scenes from a forgotten movie gone, all gone but yet they live still, in their way.
the tragedy at the heart of Tigana is the erasure of history, the stealing away of memory the transformed and forgotten land of Tigana lives still in the hearts of its former citizens, in the minds of those who work to see it reclaimed, to see themselves made whole the idea of Tigana drives them forward the reclaiming of Tigana is a slow moving battle, one that costs many lives, innocent and otherwise the towns burned, the children tortured to death, the battle costing so many lives is it all worth it of course it is, of course but one of the many wonderful things that Kay accomplishes in this novel is to show the ambiguity at the core of this quest it is not a black white matter and Kay deals only in shades of grey memory is a place that defines us it is a place that we recreate to give our lives meaning but clinging to memory, using the past as the sole thing that defines who we are, holding past misdeeds in our hearts to give us a kind of furious purpose that is also a sad place, and a place fraught with peril the entirety of the novel is a narrative about reclamation, about making a memory and a place whole but at the very end of the tale, a minor character decides against revealing a key secret, in which the history told would shatter those who heard it he purposely decides to leave a story un whole, to allow Tigana s protagonists a kind of peace in their ignorance, to stop the past from continuing to rule the present it is a brave, quiet, humane decision sometimes the past should not rule us that both ideas dueling conceptions of how to see the past are able to live in one novel, and so empathetically, is a sublime accomplishment one of many such accomplishments where do i even start props for creating a world that is an alternate version of the city states of warring old Italy, and yet is entirely its own place props for balancing heavy themes and brisk adventure props for Dianora, who whores herself out to her oppressor, no matter her original intent for vengeance Kay does not reinvent this familiar type he breathes new life into it, he makes her intentions and her actions understandable, her love real, her death a tragic one but also a death full of tenderness and meaning props for his sympathetic and clever gay character, one who uses simpering stereotype as shield and decoy props for his inclusion of Alienor and her sadomasochism i ve read a score of tales that supposedly explore sm, and few that so clearly open the heart of this kind of sexuality with such honesty and brevity props for Kay s ability to understand sexuality as central to experience, his skill at writing a love scene, his unwillingness to dwell on sex in a way that drools that makes the experience a stroke fantasy Kay illustrates sex as somehow both ambiguously mythic and prosaically real how often does that occur in a fantasy novel props for centralizing magic in this tale and yet making that magic just one part of the whole this is not a novel of magic misadventure it is a novel of people and politics and memory and longing props for the portrait of one of Tigana s villains the Tyrant Brandin the character is larger than life, remote, inaccessible and so tragic, so understandable he commits terrible crimes one of the worst is revealed in the closing pages and yet this is a father who acts from grief, who destroys out of love for his slain son, who commits unforgiveable atrocities in the name of the most relatable of emotions the love of a parent for their child, the rage of that parent towards those who have destroyed that child.
and BIG PROPS for the writing itself my gosh, the man can write his prose is often stunning impressionistic, delicate and airy, blunt and earthy, real he is what many writers aspire towards a poet who writes in narrative prose he can depict the colors of a sunset and the chill of night without clich he can describe a royal garden reshaped to reflect nature s chaos with language that brings you right there, that make a place both real and unreal he can create mystery and wonder with words that are blade sharp with sentences that are full of sad and terrible honesty with paragraphs whose substance and meaning feel ephemeral at first, like the sound of wind through trees, but that can be read again, and again, and gain meaning with each re reading he can shape a reader s experience by putting them briefly in a character s life, sharing their perspective, and then smoothly moving the reader along as one voice fades and another one comes into focus in a flow of prose that is never jarring or abrupt, that feels natural, organic scenes are viewed from multiple angles, in a way that illustrates the defintion of even handed.
have you heard of the director Otto Preminger he was a favorite of the French New Wave, a hollywood director reconstructed as a genuine auteur his defining hallmark a very specific even handedness in his storytelling, a visual manner that links all characters in a scene as equals, each having their own personal and equally important perspective and meaning, each potentially key to the narrative Kay has the same kind of widespread focus there are heroes and there are villains, and yet they are all recognizably human and they are linked by their past, by their goals, in ways that they are often slow to understand, in their shared humanity each has their own perspective, their own fears and hopes and dreams one hero enslaves a man one villain makes the roads safe another hero callously rejects his son and executes that son s boyhood lover another villain is a man whose heart nearly died with his son, only to be born again, in love, in an effort to change himself and his ill gotten world.
the novel has a central sequence that details a stark conflict taking place on another world, perhaps another reality it is in many ways a timeless passage the story of a fertility rite, a harvest war, a struggle in an alien yet familiar place a place where actions resonate throughout all of the worlds this was my special favorite part of many favorite parts in the novel the timelessness, the simplicity, the sense of many lives, many worlds, linked together so that one skirmish, one win or one loss, has profound impact on all other worlds i love how Kay is focused on this connectivity between all things it is a holistic and genuinely spiritual perspective on life i love how he connects Tigana to his Fionavar Tapestry the idea of a central world that gives life to all others, one where we may be reborn patterns of peace and war myths that resonate beyond one world into many others a tapestry of worlds Prince Alessan s quest is a mosaic of small actions aiming themselves towards one great possibility the Prince s quest parallels the meaning of the novel itself many parts that compose one great whole many memories of one great loss, histories forgotten and remembered anew many voices and many lives, paths that cross and move apart and may or may not come together again, bodies and souls that live and die and may yet live again.
While reading this book over the past month, I thought a lot about the differences between youth and adulthood, between young beliefs and mature ones And I think that maybe our youth is the only time that we can hold simple, firm convictions Maybe it s the only time that it s possible to believe completely that love will conquer all, or that there are good guys and bad guys, or that if we try hard enough, we can achieve anything we dream about In our youth, we can say things like, I would neverand feel completely certain that it s true I think that a lot of maturing into an adult involves being proven painfully wrong, again and again.
I feel like I lost a bit of my youth while reading this book Don t get me wrong I loved it It s going on my favorites shelf and I ll probably re read it dozens of times But I hate it a little bit too, because it has now rendered so many of my favorite fantasy novels some that I used to even consider grey and nuanced flat and simplistic by comparison This is the most adult fantasy novel I ve ever read And I don t just mean that in the sense that it contains sex, violence, and heads exploding like rotten fruit I mean that in the sense that nothing in this book is black and white, nothing is simple, nothing is held sacred Fantasy used to be a genre where I could sometimes comfortably escape into a few simple ideals, but this book has proven to me that even a fantasy novel can be gritty and realistic And now I feel like nothing less will do.
If this were a typical fantasy, it would be about a rag tag band of comrades coming together to make a long journey and reclaim their home from the curse of some distant, evil goliath The foes battled along the way would be disposable creatures orcs, giants, spiders, dragons beings that are murdered with little compunction The final battle would end in a massive celebration and all would be right with the world.
But this is not a typical fantasy This book is about an entire generation robbed of its very identity It s about the children born to the losing side of a great war, and the terrible legacy that they must bear It s about collateral damage not just faceless creatures, but people with homes and families, friends, the one you love, yourself It s about how a fight for peace can necessitate horrible violence It s about the never ending nature of war It s about this The lesson of her days, Dianora thought, was simply this that love was not enough Whatever the songs of the troubadours might say Whatever hope it might seem to offer, love was simply not enough to bridge the chasm in herworld And thisThe land is never truly dead It can always come back Or what is the meaning of the cycle of seasons and years She wiped her tears away and looked at him His expression in the darkness was much too sad for a moment such as this She wished she knew a way to dispel that sorrow, and not only for tonight He said, That is mostly true, I suppose Or true for the largest things Smaller things can die People, dreams, a home And this He carried, like baggage, like a cart yoked to his shoulders, like a round stone in his heart, images of his people, their world destroyed, their name obliterated Truly obliterated a sound that was drifting, year by year, further away from the shores of the world of men, like some tide withdrawing in the grey hour of a winter dawn Very like such a tide, but different as well, because tides came back The heroes are deeply flawed capable of violence, enslavement, and the sacrifice of thousands of their own people in battle in the pursuit of their goal The villain is a very grey character and in the end, is just a man A man with too much power perhaps and too much grief, but still a man, capable of feeling great love and deserving of sympathy.
The relationships are intense and heartbreaking and I wept ugly tears than once I love that we get to see the conflict through the eyes of the long toiling Baerd and Alessan, but also through the eyes of the youthful and naively passionate Devin And we get to see Devin mature in all the hardest ways possible Devin suddenly felt as if he could not bear it any Alessan s quiet acquiescence was as a final blow in his own heart He felt torn open, wounded by the hard truths of the world, by the passing of things He lowered his head to the windowsill and wept like a child in the presence of something too large for his capacity Dianora broke my heart the most though, with her systematic destruction of her own self, her own happiness, all in the name of this terrible legacyShe stopped and looked down at the flowers, their fragile petals shaken by the breeze but her thoughts were back with Brandin s fairy tale of the far away princess born under summer stars, cradled on such flowers She closed her eyes then, knowing that this would not do And slowly, deliberately, searching out pain as a spur, a goad, she built up a mental image of her father riding away, and then of her mother, and then of Baerd among the soldiers in the square When she opened her eyes to go on there were no fairy tales in her heart My one slight quibble is that I do feel like the author pulled his punches just a bit at the end there view spoiler I truly grieved, for both Dianora and Catriana And to have them both come back initially felt a little bit cheap And to have everything become peaceful at the end also felt a bit cheap But I did love the riselka That pretty much saved the ending for me hide spoiler Springtime morning in AvalleI don t care that the priests say I m going down to the river todayOn a springtime morning in Avalle.
When I m all grown up, come what mayI ll build a boat to carry me awayAnd the river will take it to Tigana BayAnd the sea even further away from AvalleBut wherever I wander, by night or by dayWhere water runs swiftly or high trees sway, My heart will carry me back and awayTo a dream of the towers of AvalleTwenty years ago, the nine quarrelling city states of the Peninsula of the Palm were invaded by the armies of two conquering sorcerers Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico of Barbadior After having defeated Chiara, Corte and Asoli, Brandin sent his son to conquer the last free province of the Western Palm But the men of the Principality of Tigana stood fast, and Valentin the Prince himself slew the sorcerer s son by the River Deisa.
Maddened by grief, Brandin himself then marched on Tigana He destroyed their armies, murdered the royal family, razed their cities to the ground, burned all their books, and finally conjured a terrible spell removing the province s very name from the world, making it impossible to speak or to hear for anyone not born there And thus, for twenty years, all that was known about the most southwestern province of the Peninsula of the Palm, was lost Tigana is the tale of those who survived the death of their nation, and their efforts to restore both their home and its lost name, and the freedom of the entirety of the Peninsula from the tyranny of the sorcerers For years they have planned to simply assassinate Brandin to remove the hold of his spell, but even so dangerous a plan is doomed to fail even if it succeeds For if the Ygrathan sorcerer dies, all of the Palm falls to the Empire of Barbadior and Alberico, who is a far brutal and tyrannical ruler than Brandin is.
A particularly interesting aspect about this book is its setting Based on Renaissance Italy, the Peninsula of the Palm is a collection of city states who have been at war with each other for centuries, thus making themselves ripe for the picking by foreign invaders For the last twenty years, the Palm has been at peace because of the precarious balance of power between Brandin and Alberico.
The characters of the book are good Nothing and nothing less There are no exceptional, larger than life figures, but in the end I found myself enjoying them all The main characters of the book, Alessan, Devin and Catriana, all start out as musicians in the company of the great Mennico di Ferraut, and the focus on music and art is important throughout the whole book Another interesting character is Dianora, one of Brandin s mistresses, who is secretly a survivor of Tigana herself.
Perhaps most interesting when it comes to characterisation are the differences between the two tyrants currently ruling the Palm Alberico is a cold, emotionless man driven only by greed and ambition He is brutal, cynical and sadistic His goal is to take the throne of the Emperor of Barbadior, and his invasion of the Palm is only a means to that end But Alberico wants power for the sake of power itself, and because of that he s only driven into an endless cycle of hungry ambition Brandin of Ygrath on the other hand, is a man driver entirely by his emotions His love for his son and his grief for his death was what drove him to destroy Tigana, and his passionate vengeance is still binding to the Palm Brandin, despite all he has done, is often portrayed as a competent ruler who cares about the lands he rules, and even as a good man deep within Thus it happens to be that the main enemy in the fight to restore lost Tigana, is the better man by far of the two tyrants.
There are two excellent parts of the book the beginning and the ending The prologue is simply beautiful, taking place before the second Battle of the River Deisa twenty years ago and is really just a simple conversation between two men on the eve of battle Valentin, Prince of Tigana, and the artist Saevar The battle in the end, on the other hand, is one of the best scenes I have ever read in the fantasy genre, because of its dramatic twists and turns, its shocking revelations and the brilliantly chosen points of view describing it.
Everything in between is sadly a bit uninteresting There is nothing much going on, except for the occasional great scene That makes the book seem a bit longer than it should, and I was wondering several times while reading when things would start happening Fortunately, though, the fantastic ending and the beautiful writing is than enough to make up for it.
Essentially, Tigana is a book about history and memory What happens to the people of a province when its very existence is snatched away, never to be spoken of again Kay states in the afterword that this topic was inspired by events during and after the 1968 uprising in Czechoslovakia, where people who had led the uprising were not only executed, but were edited away from all official pictures and historical records And it is a theme that is handled exceedingly well in this book.
In addition to that, the book is morally ambiguous, and constantly toys with the reader s emotions and preconceptions, by looking at the consequences of the righteous struggle for the restoration of Tigana Is it right to force the world into another war, to cause the deaths of thousands of innocent people and to threaten the lives of an entire Peninsula in order to restore a name Add to that the portrayal of Brandin of Ygrath as a sympathetic and just ruler, and you are left with no choice but to question the protagonists cause.
I think this is the first time I have ever read a standalone fantasy novel that does not even take place in the same world as others, and where there is no hope of getting to know Because of that, I was very skeptical, but in the end I was definitely positively surprised This book was not perfect, but it was definitely good enough that I would recommend it to just about everyoneThere are no wrong turnings Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk
Imagine a state that ceased to exist It has been swallowed on the map by hungry neighbours, swept away by winds of history and not even an empty space remains to bear witness to what once was Things like that have happened before Take Poland, partitioned by her three neighbours and for 123 years disappearing from the face of the world But where the state had vanished, the people survived And so the people of Poland cultivated their language, their arts, their traditions, their culture They nurtured their collective memory and so the memory made it possible to resurrect the state even three generations later What if the invaders erased these memories along the physical borders of the state and its landmarks Would the idea of their country be able to live in the hearts and souls of its people Now, imagine a different land, a peninsula shaped like a human hand with third and fourth fingers curled Welcome to the Palm divided into nine proud provinces incessantly engaged in the political dance of alliances, betrayals, wars and conflicts It is not surprising then that when two powerful sorcerers arrive to the Palm, one from East and one from West, they conquer the divided peninsula without greater problems The most prominent of those is the defiant stand the people of Tigana make at shores of River Deisa against the army of Brandin of Ygrath led by his son Steven Unexpectedly, they win, but the victory is short lived as the sorcerer unleashes the whole might of his power in wrath and vengeance The army of Tigana is obliterated, its Prince and his two sons slaughtered, its populace savaged, its cities and cultural heritage destroyed, and, worst of all, its very name cursed into oblivion He made it as if they had never beenLet my memory of you be like a blade in my soul The book follows the footsteps of the descendants of those who fought and lost on the Deisa and their allies as they strive to save one nation and province from being forgotten and liberate the whole peninsula But before you will fall in love with the amazing variety of characters, you will be awed by the mastery of the prose The language is so beautiful and the same time ascetic without going full fledge flowery baroque Each sentence is just perfect and even the most meaningless background details contribute to the overall picture When reading, I kept thinking about the impressionist pictures where the separate blobs of paints from up close do not make much sense but create a masterpiece the moment you step away Or perhaps, it is fitting to compare Tigana to a piece of music, especially that main protagonists are musicians sharing with the worldthe notes of grief, the sound of love, held fast in the spell of a music shaped by lossIn the grand canopy of the main story, you will find a breathtaking richness of the the minor strands, some motifs balancing each other, some repeating the slight variations of themselves just like in Bach s toccatas and fugues, the same at core but so very different You will have a motif of a person living in disguise, both becoming the disguise and transcending it Of a son trying to meet expectations of his parents Of a final reckoning between somebody who dies and somebody who needs to carry on Of a revenge carried out through love and against it Of being ready to die for dreams larger than things so achingly small by which our lives are measured and marred Of family Of tyranny Of many other things touching upon the deepest and darkest corners of human soul.
The question of evil committed on political as oppose to personal level is particularly interesting in Tigana The very question political scientists have been asking all the way from The Prince down to The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness A Vindication of Democracy and a Critique of its Traditional Defense On some level Kay is doing what Hannah Arendt did in Eichmann in Jerusalem A Report on the Banality of Evil or recently Slavenka Drakulic in They Would Never Hurt a Fly War Criminals on Trial in The Hague after the Balkan war I do recommend both books to those interested in this theme That is, trying to show that you can be good father, caring husband and still able to wipe out the whole nations and or ethnic groups, precisely the very difference between personal level and the impersonal sphere is crucial here This is one of the main arcs of the tale, told with a voice of Dianora who planned to kill the Tyrant but instead, fell in love with him Somehow Dianora obliterated this difference in her mind and heart and soul and personally, I cannot excuse this very thing view spoiler I hated Dianora Not because of the sleeping with enemy act This is deplorable, but I can see beyond the surface No, what made it impossible for me to warm up or connect with her is the absolute lack of integrity The girl was not some silly chit She devised a cunning plan, she seamlessly executed the first part, then, she survived in a hostile environment for than a decade and has risen to the top You need to have a set of formidable cojones to achieve something like that supported by intelligence and perceptiveness far beyond average And yet this not stupid girl, keeps lying not only to the around but mainly to herself And this not so stupid girl falls for her own stupid lies Still, I would be OK with this is she were I will kill him tomorrow version of Scarlett O Hara You know, like these women who treat themselves with a full set of Dunkin Donuts every day and promise to go on with the diet come Monday But then, the bode after moment comes I m talking about the assassination attempt she foiled This was something that should help her face her own lies and either accept them or confront them She does neither She keeps lying to herself Throws the tantrum when she is, oh dear me, deprived of the privilege of being summoned that night and for ma moment yields to petty revenge She is played like a haps with professions of love She keeps lying to herself and keeps believing in her own lies before, during and after performing ritual that effectively empowered Brandin And this is what I cannot stomach I was very happy that her brother was spared the knowledge of what she has become Even if I think she got an easy way out In fact, much too easy hide spoiler A Masterful Epic Of Magic, Politics, War, And The Power Of Love And Hate From The Renowned Author Of The Fionavar Tapestry And Children Of Earth And SkyTigana Is The Magical Story Of A Beleaguered Land Struggling To Be Free It Is The Tale Of A People So Cursed By The Black Sorcery Of A Cruel Despotic King That Even The Name Of Their Once Beautiful Homeland Cannot Be Spoken Or Remembered But Years After The Devastation, A Handful Of Courageous Men And Women Embark Upon A Dangerous Crusade To Overthrow Their Conquerors And Bring Back To The Dark World The Brilliance Of A Long Lost NameTigana Against The Magnificently Rendered Background Of A World Both Sensuous And Barbaric, This Sweeping Epic Of A Passionate People Pursuing Their Dream Is Breathtaking In Its Vision, Changing Forever The Boundaries Of Fantasy Fiction I have been listening to this from the library for a few days SIMON VANCE I love him as a narrator Next I need to get that beautiful anniversary edition to actually read, in my hands I can never say much when I listen to books the first time around Actually, sometimes I don t say anything just because Anyhoo, Happy Reading Mel 4.
66 A Buddy read with the Fantasy Buddy Reads Group, because we wanted a stand alone for a changeHow do I even start on writing a review for this book I think, just as most everyone else has done, I have to begin with the style of writing It is a throwback to a time long past, it carries a lyrical magic which simmers in every sentence, and without being in itself overly flowery, it conveyed a sense of Gothic melodrama, which made me feel as if a bard of old was telling the story of an even older legend he learned on the road Although I know myself to be a person who loves all styles of writing and all sorts of genres, I have to say that the easiest way to my heart is through old fashioned feel in the prose, be it bouncy and playful, or dreamy and lulling Thus I often find myself in love with books for reasons others find detrimental to the story In this case, the pace of the story seems to be overly slow and the prevailing theme itself often hard to relate to, especially if you come from a culture which has been dominant in its historyTigana Through the square that cry rang, along the streets, up to the windows where people watched, over the roofs of houses running westward to the sea or eastward to the temples, and far beyond all of these a sound, a name, a hurled sorrow in the brightness of the airMore than twenty years ago, the city state of Tigana, one of the nine such in the Peninsula of the Palm, was a place of beauty, prosperity and pride, exalting in its culture and arts and lead by Prince Valentine, a handsome and beloved ruler Its people were known for their passion and fervor, but most of all for their stubborn pride The nine provinces were always competing, to the point of enmity, often warring among themselves, and this is what made them an easy mark for the conquering sorcerers on two different sides of the Peninsula On the one side is the Empire of Barbadior, and the brute of a warrior sorcerer Alberico, on the other is the Kingdom of Ygrath with the sorcerer king Brandin After spliting most of the provinces, King Brandin sends his favorite son to lead a force against the Prince of Tigana and they meet for the first time at the River Deisa The young man is defeated and the father is mad with grief He leaves his wife and other children behind and heads to the river at once, overwhelming Prince Valentine and slaughtering all of his host, destroying its cities and killing most of its people But that is not enough He puts a curse on Tigana so only the ones that have been already born in the place and survived the aftermath, can remember or hear its name, while the rest of the world will never hear it again He will erase not only the people, but the mane and the memory of it itself, only thus he would satisfy his revengeHe carried, like baggage, like a cart yoked to his shoulders, like a round stone in his heart, images of his people, their world destroyed, their name obliterated Truly obliterated a sound that was drifting, year by year, further away from the shores of the world of men, like some tide withdrawing in the grey hour of a winter dawn Very like such a tide, but different as well, because tides came backTwenty years later, Devin, Alessan, and Catriana are members of a traveling musicians troupe and are about to sing in the funeral rights for an exiled Duke, where their lives become truly intertwined, starting on a road to make the world remember their birthplace of Tigana The three of them are part of the few survivors who were left behind, together with Baird, a friend to Alessan, and other who join them on their quest, some willingly then others It is hard to add people to their cause, not only because the two Tyrants have a murderous grip on the populations they have conquered, but because there are some things that seem to be going better under their rule There is a rule of law, despite it giving a very free hand to the occupying armies, but with it comes a semblance of peace, the trade routs are safe, and the crime in the population at large is low Those who are killed are usually the ones who have come to the attention of the rulers And this is where the truth liesTigana, let my memory ofyou be like a blade in mysoulFor five hundred years the country I come from originally had been under the yoke of the Ottoman Empire If you look at the maps of the world from this time, you will barely find the name of Bulgaria, a country which saw its greatest glory in the 9th 10th century Before that the Byzantium Empire and later the Greeks did their best to erase its name and all that came from its people as well Only the memory of its history, the preservation of its language and religion, as well as the pure stubbornness of that independent spirit of the Bulgarian people kept the nation in existence, as small and insignificant as it might seem on the map of the Balkans and the world in present times Many felt that under foreign rule the country did better, there was less crime, the people were protected, despite the heavy price of lives and freedom that had to be paid Many converted, married into the conquerors families, and became a part of the despised oppressors, mostly because of need for survival or ambition But the name lived because of the memory of it and those who did their part, big or small, to keep that memory aliveThe heart has its own laws and the truth is the truth is that you are the law of mineIn Tigana we are talking about the same thing, only attempted to be done with magic, instead by years of assimilation politics and the fear of the sword Although, the sword plays a very heavy and formative role in the Peninsula of the Palm as well Through the years the people have lived in despair with the knowledge that their pride and love for their heritage will die with them Some, like Dianora, one of Brandin s mistresses, had also started with that hatred for Brandin in their hearts, but find themselves taken by this enigmatic, attractive and powerful despot, justifying in their minds his murderous cruelty as something that is apart of him, since he is so erudite and charming in person He is human and has human emotions, but he is ruthless when it comes to his enemies and cares not for what the innocent people caught in his revenge have to suffer He is also cruel, manipulative and unyielding, but in the body of a handsome, rich, powerful and smart, intelligent and educated middle aged man, who knows many ways to please a woman, I guess it would be easy for the woman so pleased to forget his less attractive qualities I have always grieved for women like Dianora, who often are a part of reality when such Tyrants wield power in any culture, at any time in history However, she had chances to redeem herself and she failed miserably in my eyesThe lesson of her days, Dianora thought, was simply this that love was not enough Whatever the songs of the troubadours might say Whatever hope it might seem to offer, love was simply not enough to bridge the chasm in her worldIt is so much easier to hate the brutish, barbaric, bloodthirsty Alberico, who is just what he appears to be What you see is what you get with him, and hating and resisting him comes way naturally to the oppressed He is everything we imagine our enemies to be, while in reality those caricatures of evil are usually only peons for the sleek, GQ Models like monsters pulling their strings This leads us to the complexity of most of our main characters and the balance the author has achieved with the way he introduces them to us I loved that none of the characters were truly good or truly evil They did good or evil things, but their personal characters were complex, capable of things that would surprise you That ambiguity of character is what made me love this book so much I wanted to hate some of them, but I was tempted to put myself in their shoes and at times understand their decisions, despite completely disliking them I think we all love clearly good or bad players, so we could freely root for one or the other We do not want to see similarities between ourselves and the bad guys, because we want to believe we will always choose the path of Light Through life experience I have learned not to expect those hopes to come to pass We are all ruled by the need to survive, to keep going, to protect those we love, and we might find ourselves making decisions which might not always be on the up and up When you are left with no discernible choices, you do the best you can find the strength to do And then you seek absolutionBright star of Eanna, forgive me the manner of this, but you are the harbor of my soul s journeyingTo those who intend to read this book, be prepared for a slow developing plot, at times very slow and introspective, while at other times we would all have liked to have a bit detail or foreshadowing It is all presented in some very beautiful prose with undertones of old school melodrama The author does a great job at achieving his goal and bringing to light the importance of Memory , the history of who we are and where we come from I am a firm believer of History being our best teacher, but I am also very cognoscente of such Memory being an easy string to pull on when someone needs a wound to be reopened and old enmities to be awakened for who knows whose purposes and why In places like this Peninsula of the Palm, or like the Balkans, old hatreds and the memories of them have never died, and it is easy to be manipulated for the purpose of destabilization I hope people can remember why it is better to know, but also to learn to live with the strife for a better world for all of usNow I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you Need in the pages of a Good Book Full review now posted original review can be found at Booknest.
The best books in any genre are the ones that move you And I just found a new one in my very favorite genre There are no wrong turnings Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk I don t think I m exaggerating when I say that I ve read hundreds of fantasy books in my lifetime I ve taken so many adventures through extravagantly strange worlds with casts of immensely varied characters on a multitude of nigh impossible quests Fantasy is a genre that never gets old for me, because there s no limit to what the human imagination can spawn onto a page That doesn t mean that every single fantasy book I read is a hit for me I ve had disappointments But my first foray into the writings of Guy Gavriel Kay was definitely not a disappointment I think I ve found a new favorite author Language The process of sharing with words seemed such a futile exercise sometimes GGK has an exquisite way with words My favorite fantasies are always those with breathtaking prose, and GGK delivers that is spades with Tigana But the lovely language is just a vehicle for the amazing story he has crafted In a world where magic is very real, what happens when an entire land and people are torn from their name, and to what lengths will they go to recover that identity That is the central plot of the book, but there is so much to the story What truly defines you How important is a name When does seeking vengeance cross a line and become not worthy of its cost Where does the line between love and loyalty break, and which wins in your heart Is a dream worth sacrificing not just your life, but your quality of life Is it easier to die for a dream than live without it There were so many deep questions raised here Philosophy and religion are always one of my favorite aspects of fantasy worlds, and both were very well developed here Words were power, words tried to change you, to shape bridges of longing that no one could ever really cross There is such a beautiful, eclectic cast of characters in this book And they all have so much personality and depth Devin, a young man with the voice of an angel but the face of a child, is my very favorite character I also loved Alessan, Baerd, Catriana, Alais, Dionara, and a couple of others whose names I can t even use because they re almost spoilers I will say this, though I appreciate so much how GGK made his characters gray instead of black and white Even the characters who were supposedly bad had so many redeeming qualities Except for Alberico He was just a douche But every character had understandable motivations, and it was nearly impossible to choose a side I loved that Because people are nuanced and deep and almost never see themselves as evil, and it takes a really great author to get that point across in his work In this world, where we find ourselves, we need compassion than anything, I think, or we are all alone Because GGK was able to make the vast majority of his characters so sympathetic, reading this book was an incredibly emotional experience for me Seriously, I was reading through tears for hundreds of pages There was just something about the way GGK strung together his prose and plot that resonated deeply with me, and moved me than most fantasy novels are able to I was profoundly invested in the story and the characters and the fate the Palm as a whole and Tigana in particular The ending was beautiful and devastating, and I m still trying to come to terms with the amount of both joy and sadness it inspired within me.
On last thing I loved about this book the importance of hope Even when things looked dire, even when people were devastated or torn, there was hope The worldview felt so bright, even in the midst of despair I don t know exactly what GGK believes, but I feel like he has to believe in something in order to create a world this broken that still has so much room for hope.
If this level of craftsmanship is what I can expect from the rest of GGK s catalogue, I will be reading every book penned by him I m able to get my little hands on I heartily recommend it to any fan of high fantasy A buddy read with the always wonderful Petrik