Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay

As I moved into my Christmas reading this year I decided to relax with some classic fantasy, which included re-reading my all-time favourite fantasy novel, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana. I first read this about 12 or 13 years ago and I can still remember where I was sitting when I read the final pages and discovered the surprise twist at the ending: it hit me like a kick in the stomach. For my money, nobody can constuct a plot like Kay; he keeps me constantly on the edge of my seat with twists and turns and just when I think I’ve got everything figured out, he pulls another surprise out of the bag. Add to that memorable characters you can’t help falling in love with and a vivid, detailed, fully realized fantasy world, and you can see why I am shameless in declaring Guy Gavriel Kay the greatest living fantasy writer — or at least the best suited to my reading tastes!

Tigana is my favourite Kay novel because the story is so poignant and heartwrenching. A small country has lost its independence to a powerful dictator — but the dictator is also a sorcerer. As punishment for their resistance, the sorcerer cast a spell so that the name of the country — Tigana — would be unable to be heard or understood by anyone not born there. But wiping out the name, he literally erases the memory of a people and their culture.

The novel picks up twenty years later, when a small band of rebels is determined to overthrow the dictator and restore the name and nation of Tigana to map and memory. Every character is complex and compelling; the story never stops moving forward. I know that at least a couple of people who are near and dear to me and whose reading tastes I respect have found the beginning of Tigana slow and hard to get into, and having given up on it. I really can’t relate, but I have to say that if you find the beginning slow, you should hang in there till at least page 100 and see if you don’t start enjoying the ride. You don’t know what you’re missing.



Filed under Canadian author, Fiction -- fantasy

2 responses to “Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay

  1. Jamie

    …Of course, somewhere around page 248 he introduces a WHOLE NEW CHARACTER to a book already populated with plenty of characters! I almost gave up then, but it was too late, I was hooked.

    And yes, it took me three or four attempts to get past the first few chapters. I’ve finished the book now, and did enjoy it as much as everyone said I would.

  2. Anne

    I absolutely fell in love with Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing when I read The Fionavar Tapestry. Then I read Tigana.

    It still breaks my heart all these years later. What Dianora does at the end, coupled with her brother showing up, is so tragic. Tigana touched me in a way that only Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn ever did. That heart wrenching tragedy of loss.

    Tigana doesn’t end happily ever after for key characters–just like life doesn’t always end happily ever after. And I love Kay for that reality in his writing.

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