Smoke me a kipper; I'll be back for breakfast.
First off - Simon Vance is amazing and he improves anything he sets his voice to. I listened to this book as part of a book club. There were many people that almost gave up or gave up on this book. The book starts very slowly so just be aware that it takes a few hours to get going.
The author was the man that helped Tolkien's son put together Silmarillion so you get the idea on his style. Many compare him to GRR Martin, which is pretty accurate. But at least Martin is enriching a world for a huge series. The author spends a lot of time on ambiance and loves to introduce characters wherever and give you various tidbits on the world even into the almost end of the book. It's just really strange pacing is what I'm getting at.
The good is that it's a decent fantasy story that explores, predominantly, what would happen if a magician was able to wipe out a culture by taking away its name. It also deals with a prince's long journey to bring down the two new leaders after the fall of said culture.
So the pluses are - standard fantasy with pretty prose & solid and believable ending.
Minuses- Too many characters using first person narrative, not enough action, didn't care about barely any of the characters.
Characters were typical fantasy characters: innocent boy, ousted prince, wizard, nubile young woman, random fighters, character drafted against his will becoming a hero for the cause.. and a host of other similar, formulaic cast members. Every man is a hero, every woman is a mix between innocent and incredibly beautiful (and willing.. for the right cause). There were some plot twists here, but never anything earth shattering or that interesting. And in multiple cases, I found myself thinking the people actually did something so OUT of character that the 'teachable moment' was unbelievable and mildly annoying.
Too much of the character development hinges on backstory. There are unnecessary subplots that take up room in this book that could have been better used to really develop the story. The sometimes weird sex scenes didn't help either: they fluctuated from useless and violating to just plain violating. The only one that seemed important to the plot was incestuous. How's that for weird?
I did love the story between Brandin and Dianora, but considering she was a slave... in hindsight I'm not sure what to make of it either. Definitely not an attempt here for truly strong female characters (all end up in (what passes for) every woman's fantasy, and all are celebrated for annoyingly mild acts of courage. Cutting off her hair gets tears and sympathetic looks, while cutting off his fingers gets advice and something like, "get back out there, soldier!")
It earns three stars for good vocabulary use, and being generally ok. The premise was very interesting, and the storytelling rich enough to keep me listening. Not really worth my credit, though.
Yes, and the narrator did an excellent job here, as usual.
Oh please no. Just.. no.
Wish I'd skipped the author commentary at the end. The book is so-so on it's own merit (interesting story, but nothing else) but the author's attempts to explain the greater themes- which failed completely here- just irritated me. If I was rating this book by what I was SUPPOSED to get out of it, I would give it 1 star. He does explain, in a way, why this book failed so completely: he had a grand plan for discussion of social issues, and then tried to build it into a story. That could have worked with a different author. Instead, it was a case of, "Jack of all trades, master of none."
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!
This story had so much potential but fell so far short. I love the idea, but the story was poorly constructed, and fisjointed. It also became annoying because of the unnecessary sex scenes thrown in as often as possible, seemingly to fulfill fetishes of the author. If these scenes had actually benefited the plot, and if they had been more believable, I would not speak against them. The author's note at the end didn't add anything to the story for me, either. I listened to it, hoping it would redeem at least a small part of the story for me. Again, I was disappointed. I'll most likely avoid this author in the future, unless a book comes highly recommended by someone I know well. The reader, on the other hand, did very well, and I would be glad to listen to more of his work.
Tigana had a very intriguing premise to me, but it didn't deliver to me as a reader. It felt emotionally stagnant the entire time I was listening to it. I never managed to connect with any of the characters. The events never made me care about their outcomes. I just couldn't make myself care, even though I tried to.
I think part of the problem was that any time someone new was introduced, I got bogged down in the story of how they got there. There was so much backstory that came out of the blue that it halted the action of the present. It was a slog for me to finish this book.
I will gladly admit that it was a very well-crafted story. Kay created a rich world that clearly has a history and a future beyond the story itself. There were moments that I knew should have been emotionally charged, but they simply didn't engender that reaction in me. Honestly, it was frustrating and disappointing. But this wasn't a book for me. I'll give Kay another chance though, with some other book.
This story is captivating and memorable without outstaying it's welcome, with colorful and lifelike characters who feel real, rather than larger-than-life. I would highly recomend this book to anyone who has even a slight interest in fantasy.