I really enjoyed listening to this book and got a good feel for the characters. It was unusual to be hoping for some of the "evil" characters to come out of it okay. There were some that you wanted to be beaten and I kept wanting the author to find a way to have a happier outcome for some of the others.
Overall, I would listen to this book repeatedly and believe I would find things I missed with each listening.
As the author describes in the afterword, Tigana is a novel that employs the fantasy genre to explore some of the key and critical features of our recent history. The characters -- and cultures -- are realistic in how they respond to large-scale oppression. The novel deeply explores how oppressive regimes can dominate a conquered people, how some of the conquered resist, and how others are seduced into collaboration. Like real life, "clean" endings with no unanswered questions are avoided.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Nobody remembers Tigana — a land bright with beauty, culture, and wealth — nobody but those who lived there before the land was cursed by the conqueror Brandin of Ygrath after the prince of Tigana killed Brandin’s son in battle. When the now-oppressed Tiganese try to tell outsiders about Tigana, the name just slips out of the listener’s mind. Only those born in the land are able to keep its beautiful name in memory.
But the prince of Tigana’s son still lives and he and his companions plan to restore their land’s name. But, not only must they kill Brandin of Ygrath, but also Alberico of Barbadior, who rules the other half of their peninsula. Otherwise, they will merely be consumed by a different tyrant.
I was entranced by Tigana right from the first page. What I noticed immediately was the passion — this is a story lovingly wrought by an author who loves language, loves his characters, and loves the world he’s created. Guy Gavriel Kay’s prose is heavy (sometimes too heavy) with imagery and emotion yet it reads, for the most part, easily (except for the occasional unexpected shift in point-of-view).
Kay’s characters are distinct, well-developed, and likable. The prince’s companions are a diverse group, each with his/her own personality, strengths, and weaknesses. The actions and motives of the villains are completely understandable — in fact, I felt sympathetic toward them.
The story of the struggle to free Tigana was fascinating. There were some slightly unbelievable or contrived plot devices, but the rest of the story was excellent enough that I was perfectly happy to overlook them. The end was surprising and bittersweet.
I listened to most of Tigana on audio (and read some it in print). Simon Vance is the reader, and he is one of the very best. If you’re an audiobook listener, I’d definitely suggest that format for Tigana. But, either way, Tigana is a must-read.
I believed that no author would ever meet Dorothy
Dunnett's standard as my all time favorite. Now Kay is so close to that standard that I really couldn't say which author I would take to the "desert Island with one book". Yes it is fantasy--almost-- it is historical --almost. It is without a doubt GREAT!
This is a beautifully written story of loss, love and recovery, not necessarily, victory. Kay's writing is almost like prose and is so enjoyable to just listen to Simon Vance read it! I love how the story teaches us a lesson about lost identity, and how Kay brings that lesson to light in this fantastic,well-written story. Some parts of it seem kind of boring (still beautiful), but it's all good.
I really enjoyed this book and the storyline. I felt myself breathless at times when listening and truly enjoyed the well developed characters and mythos. Not the "typical" fantasy fiction and I thought it was well worth my time and ears.
I forget how I came upon this excellent author, but once I had downloaded it???read by the lyrical Simon Vance, who could, as they say, read a phone book and move you to tears ???I could not put it down. Extremely engaging, extremely witty and also???extremely troubling. Violence, grotesque and nightmarish violence, is always at your elbow in this book???and in subsequent books of the author that I have encountered. There is also a certain amount of explicit sex. Not for the fainthearted, nor for the squeamish???which would usually include me, but somehow, didn???t, this time.
The story takes place in a fictional world, which however has a solid believable presence, and a tenuous relationship with medieval Italy. But so what, you say???many fantasy books are based on medieval history, many books blend fantasy with believable real world details. What this book has is all that???but also, elegant language and exceptional plotting. This is a skillful work of art, filled with gorgeous images and a certain zest for life, for singing, for drinking with friends. And even, something of a happy ending, a thing of which I am inordinately fond.
I first learned of Guy Gavriel Kay as a friend of Christopher Tolkien and one of the men whom helped edit the Silmarillion. I don't think Kay is quite Tolkien's equal, but the comparison is very well deserved.
Without giving away too much, Tigana is a fantasy novel about a nation, the Peninsula of the Palm, under the rule of two tyrant sorcerers and a band of freedom fighters struggling to reclaim their homelands. Touching on themes of loss, memory, patriotism this is an ambitious, yet timeless novel.
Also, this might be Simmon Vance's best performance to date. Vance a terrific narrator period, but working with Kay's gorgeous prose his talent really shines. Always appropriately lyrical with just enough emotional to completely draw the listener in, the combination of Kay and Vance produces a real treat. What are you waiting for? Beyond highly recommended!
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
This 1990 novel by GGK, which still seems to have a big following, is melancholy, emotional, shades-of-gray fantasy. The story takes place on a peninsula vaguely reminiscent of medieval Italy, which was invaded by forces from two different large empires about 20 years before. Both of these armies, each led by a powerful sorcerer, took the peninsula by conquering one fractious province at a time.
However, one province, named Tigana, put up a ferocious resistance and managed to kill the son of one of the sorcerers. To punish its inhabitants, the grief-stricken Brandin laid waste to the region, and cast a spell to make its very name impossible to remember. Except to anyone who happened to be born there before the invasion. Those people must endure the pain of watching their homeland's identity fade from the world's memory. As Kay mentions in the afterward, events in the real world inspired him in this theme.
The plot, of course, revolves around a conspiracy to remove the two tyrants, but the reader sees both sides of the struggle. The sorcerer Brandin, though guilty of terrible crimes, is a sympathetic character that we come to know through the point of view of his concubine, who entered his court years before to assassinate him, but now loves him. This complexity comes to play a pivotal role in the story’s outcome. On the rebel side, the various characters struggle with their own inner torments, and must do things that go against their hearts, such as engineering outbreaks of violence or enslaving a wandering wizard against his will.
The strength and weakness of Kay as a writer lies in his desire to make every moment beautiful and meaningful. At times, this works, but at other times, the story feels overly melodramatic, laboring over its “we’re all human and feel pain” themes long after the point comes across. Yes, we need to shed tears, love, laugh, and talk about our feelings -- I get it, Mr. Kay. His prose can get a bit purple as well; look for lots of “he felt a quivering in his heart” and “the coldness in her eyes was like the deep blue of a mountain stream”.
Not that I didn’t enjoy the novel. The fine world-building and the interesting characters of the first quarter drew me in. It felt like Kay was striving for a balance between fantasy traditions and a more mature take on them. The ending came together beautifully, as well.
However, I didn’t find this book as sophisticated as many of its fans seem to. The middle section was unnecessarily drawn-out, filled with tangential subplots, and heavier on uninspired fantasy cliches than the rest. Oddly, Kay doesn’t really address the issue that the rebel leader is yet another monarch himself, a guy who talks about freedom, but presumably intends to preserve his hereditary throne once he gets it back.
All in all, I’d still happily recommend Tigana to anyone interested in fantasy that aspires to parallels with the real world, but I must call attention to its flaws. Simon Vance, the audiobook reader, gives his usual classy performance.
This book never went anywhere. Characters, Devon for instance, never advanced. Yes, there was some backfill of their history but not much. At the end I was kicking myself for wasting so much time listening. Not even the brilliant Simon Vance could save this one.