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Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
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3,3261001,635 (4.22)7 / 489
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    The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Both set in vaguely historical Europe with minimal fantastic elements
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English (99)  Dutch (1)  All languages (100)
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
This is a cut - a very large cut - above your usual Extruded Fantasy Product. On the surface it is a story of heroes and villains, in which at the end the heroes all live and get to marry, and the villains die horrible deaths. Only one person we are made to care about actually dies.

But. The heroes are all variously flawed, and the villains aren't just emissaries of evil. The world-building is good, the culture mostly very convincingly portrayed (I didn't buy the riselka, it didn't seem to fit, somehow) and the main characters are well-drawn and believable. The story itself is interesting and unusual (unusual for fantasy, anyway) and a definite page turner. Also, and perhaps unusually for the genre, certainly when it was published, it has some interesting things to say about memory, and about means and ends and how the former shape the latter, and the choices people make in pursuit of a cause (good or otherwise). The pain of being an occupied nation came across well. There is no violence pr0n, which was good to see, but the sex scenes were a bit wooden. This was the first book by GGK I have read, and I will read more.

Flaws: too much detail in places, especially in Dianora's back story. (Also, it was a bit too coincidental that she was planning to go to Chiara, and then got carried off there anyway). Few of the secondary characters came across as three dimensional, and Alienor didn't strike me as necessary at all. Not enough standard fantasy tropes were subverted, for me, and there was the usual problem with magic as a deus (or should that be diabolos) ex machina. Half a star knocked off for all that.

Game of Thrones fans will particularly enjoy this .. there's a lot here they will recognise. ( )
  sloopjonb | Jul 10, 2014 |
Mr. Kay has gotten around to Medieval/Renaissance Italy in his tour of major Fantasy Settings. It's less compelling than the Spain and his Sarantium work. Good entertainment, but it sinks into body of work as opposed to startling achievement. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Apr 18, 2014 |
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 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 of 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.
Read more GGK reviews at FanLit. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
A beautifully-written fantasy with a very personal take on the old rebellion-against-tyrants plot. I found the main character, the young musician Devin, to be the least interesting. He never really overcomes his role as observer in a rebellion he's just become a part of. But the rest of the cast is interesting and morally complex -- at times the protagonists do unjust things for their cause, and the oppressive ruler is viewed sympathetically through the eyes of the woman who loves him despite her own conflicting loyalties. The presence of magic feels hidden but powerful, and I like how some strange events are never fully explained. Things are tied up a little too quickly at the end, and with a disappointing lack of emotional payoff for a few key storylines. But overall I enjoyed it, it felt like a more classic style of fantasy storytelling than I've seen recently, but without falling back on the same old tropes. ( )
  thatpirategirl | Jan 16, 2014 |
One of my all time favorites. Enjoyed it as much the 2nd time as the first. There are few books that will still cause me to catch my breath in sections, especially ones that I am rereading, however after 10 years of sitting on my shelf it still had the power to take my breath away at least once.
Kay is a romantic writer. I don't mean that in the sense that there are a fair number of people wandering around with frilly bodices being ripped this way and that. I mean Romantic with a capital "R" as in larger-than-life people who are very earnest and feel things very deeply. The voice of each narrator sets the stage for how the reader will perceive the story. The narrator of Tigana, like Tolkien who was a very large and early influence on Kay as he was one of the contributors to The Silmarillion, is a very serious person on the whole who states things in a seriousness usually only attributed to a teen in the throes of their first love.
The story here is a very serious one. That is of a peninsula on a far planet where magic, while not quite common, is prevalent enough. This peninsula resembles a renaissance Italy where the Medici or the Borgia might reign except there is magic and two moons. There are nine provinces of the palm, which is the way that this peninsula is referred to, and as the prologue opens they are invaded from the West by one sorcerer king and from the East by another sorcerer. Each captures 4 of the provinces and achieves a stable detente with the other. In the process, the King of the west loses his son in the battle over one of the provinces. In his anger and sorrow, he casts a dreadful spell causing all who were not born there to forget the name of this province and to not even be able to hear it if it was spoken to them. A very dreadful form of historic revisionism that was inspired, so the author states in his postscript, by the Stalin/Maoist historical revisions of the last forty years.
Our earnest and serious heroes must try to find a way to pit the two tyrants against each other and thus destroy them both, which of course they do. But there are ancient legends told along the way, a few deaths by overly well intentioned people who sacrificed in a good cause or for whom the climax of the events was more than they could live with.
As a sometimes serious and earnest person, I enjoyed this book immensely again the second time. The surprise turns here and there still held some magic for me. However, I can see that an earnest younger man might find this novel to be almost more than he could absorb. Thus is the power of the epic carried forward. This work was the first full work of Kay's that I had read (other than the editing of Tolkien's writing). I had read quite a bit more of his work after this and found it to be improved. Still very earnest, but with more humor, which as Shakespeare knew was the perfect accoutrement for a romantic drama. ( )
  stuart10er | Sep 27, 2013 |
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All that you held most dear you will put by
 and leave behind you; and this is the arrow
 the longbow of your exile first lets fly.
You will come to know how bitter as salt and stone
 is the bread of others, how hard the way that goes
 up and down stairs that never are your own.
—Dante, The Paradiso
What can a flame remember? If it remembers a little less
than is necessary, it goes out; if it remembers a little
more than is necessary, it goes out. If only it could
teach us, while it burns, to remember correctly.
—George Seferis, "Stratis the Sailor Describes a Man"
For my brothers, Jeffrey and Rex
First words
Both moons were high, dimming the light of all but the brightest stars.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the complete story in one volume. Please do not combine this with either part one (Tigana Chapters 1 - 12) or part two (Tigana Chapters 13 - 20).
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451457765, Paperback)

Tigana 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:38 -0400)

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With a new introduction by the acclaimed bestselling author, this tenth anniversary edition of a fantasy classic is the sweeping tale of sorcery, magic, politics, war, love, betrayal, and survival.

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