Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Rating 9.7/10
An immense achievement, a complex and loving piece of writing.

Book of the Month

Does it seem ironic to anyone else that I’m rereading a book from 20 years ago for this review, and the book itself is about memories? To those of you unfamiliar with Tigana, the storyline is about loss and memory. To those of you familiar with Tigana, you may find yourself in the same frame of mind as I was.

I was 19 and fresh out of Fionavar when I snatched this book off the shelf. I was totally swept away by the grand scope of the adventure that the young singer Devin d’Asoli found himself in. How could any young person not become the character themselves to live the life of adventure? Imagine one morning you are singing the funeral eulogy of your life and have just made your career. Then by dinner, you find out that everyone around you is not who they seem, and you yourself have been identified as a potential hero. I know this farm boy had found himself a place to hide for a while.

So now here I am 20 years later finding myself back with a gang of old friends. Alessan di Tregea, Catriana d’Astibar, and their counterparts, the tyrant sorcerers Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico of Barbadior.

The story is unfolded through the eyes of Devin who is invited into the group of conspirators to right a wrong done to the nation of Tigana and its people. Devin’s relative innocence of the situation has to do with this history. When Brandin of Ygrath attacked Tigana to expand his empire and give his son Stevan a place of his own to rule, the unthinkable happened. The peaceful and artistic nation Tigana resisted, and Stevan was killed in a decisive battle. In grief-stricken rage Brandin destroyed the wonders of Tigana and cast a spell which made the name Tigana unable to be heard by anyone but a native of Tigana. In effect destroying the soul of the country and the will of its people by making it impossible to remember or even know about Tigana except amongst themselves. The cunning and patience of Alessan’s plans of revolution to regain his nation make this book hard to put down once things start coming together.

But what truly made me see the brilliance of this book, was reading it again after all this time. I remembered the adventure and tension of their journey through the countryside like it was yesterday. Except this time I noticed all the subtleties of emotion that my young personality missed. What I realized is that life experience and maturity improved this book and made it even more powerful the second time around. Especially with Dianora, where we see the often ignored “other side of the story.” I highly recommend this book to readers of all age groups as it is so well written that just the story without the emotional attachment made it one of my favourites all those years ago.

The review copy came courtesy of Penguin Canada who very kindly supplied us with the extra special Penguin Celebrations edition. Penguin Group (Canada) published this edition of Tigana in a traditional Penguin design in celebration of being named 2008 Publisher of the Year. For more information, visit Penguin Canada.

Tigana is not being printed in the UK. However, visitors world-wide can order from the chapters.indigo.ca website where they can order both the Penguin Celebrations and original versions of Tigana.

This Tigana book review was written by

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Have you read Tigana?

We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.

Tigana reader reviews

from UK

10-stars

Sheer brilliance.

from London

8-stars

I recently read (and reviewed) this book and thought it was stunning, Good fantasy is an all-consuming thing. Every character was strong and my only compliant was that sometimes the characterisation was a little lost as the plot took hold. But all in all a great read. Check out my review at: http://iwillwritewithit.blogspot.co.uk/ KatieB

from Estonia

10-stars

Perfect book.

from England

10-stars

The first 2 chapters seem incredibly boring and long-winded. However, I was persuaded by friends to keep reading the book. It all paid off, as Tigana is an enchanting tale that is hard to put down, even if it is quite hard to read (compared to many other books).

from UK

3-stars

Many people liked this book, but certainly not me. Tigana was, for me, simply painful to read, slow, boring and overwritten. The characters are utterly uninteresting and Kay constantly tries to enforce sympathizing with cheap plot devices. The plot itself is kinda interesting but not very original and relies far too much on chance and coincidences. The most obnoxious thing about this book though is that almost everything is TOLD you by someone... I've never seen any book get so far from the "show, don't tell" principle as this one.

from Reading

9-stars

I thoroughly enjoy the way Guy Gavriel Kay writes to the point that I now have all his books. Tigana is a brilliant book which I felt was engaging, well paced, had multi-faceted characters and showed the conflicts the characters had with themselves and others in a creative manner. A must read.

from Liverpool

10-stars

Quite simply the best fantasy book I've ever encountered...an epic story in one volume which is an achievement in itself. Only regret is that I can only give it ten stars....

from New York

10-stars

Best fantasy book after LOTR.

from Malaysia

10-stars

I recently picked up this book at a second-hand book fair and was I glad that I did! I read the Fionavar Tapestry many many years ago and enjoyed it (and I agree with the 8-star ratings). I'd heard of Tigana by then but for some reason never felt the urge to pick it up. It was probably a good thing, because I completely agree with Mr Roesch in his review above. Twenty years ago I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I did, but now I consider it to be one of the best books I've read. It's definitely one that will stick in my heart for a long long time, and thoroughly deserves a 10!

9/10 from 10 reviews

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