Tigana

tiganaTigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Number of pages: 692
My copy: Kindle edition

Eight of the nine provinces of the Peninsula of the Palm, on a world with two moons, have fallen to the warrior sorcerers Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico of Barbadior. Brandin’s younger son is slain in a battle with the principality of Tigana, which the grief-stricken sorcerer then destroys. After sweeping down and destroying the remnants of their army, burning their books and destroying their architecture and statuary, he makes it so that no one not born in that province can even hear its name. Years later, a small band of survivors, led by Alessan, last prince of Tigana’s royal house, wages psychological warfare, planting seeds for the overthrow of the two tyrants. At the center of these activities are Devin, a gifted young singer; Catriana, a young woman pursued by suspicions of her family’s guilt; and Duke Sandre d’Astibar, a wily resistance leader thought dead. Meanwhile, at Brandin’s court, Dianora, his favorite concubine and–unknown to anyone, another survivor of Tigana–struggles between her growing love for the often gentle tyrant and her desire for vengeance. Gradually the scene is set for both conquerors to destroy each other and free a land.

* * *

I don’t read a lot of high fantasy novels because I’m more of a contemporary romance kind of person. And because of that, it takes me a while to really get into a world, especially one that required maps and had different names of people with powers and such. I noticed that a lot of high fantasy novels often had a lot of characters, too — with odd names to boot — so sometimes I feel like I need to get into a different kind of mindset before I take on a high fantasy novel.

Hah, I feel like I sounded like such a wuss there, especially since two of my closest friends in the book club are fans of high fantasy novels. So when they moderated the high fantasy discussion for our book club in 2013, I can’t not be too whiny about it. Especially since the book was about 800+ long. But I’ve finished Les Misérables this year, and while it’s not a high fantasy novel, it had a lot of characters. This shouldn’t be that hard, right? *cracks knuckles*

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay is a standalone high fantasy novel set in a place called Peninsula of the Palm. Two people rule eight of the nine provinces in the Palm — Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico of Barbadior. Sometime in the past, Brandin’s younger son is slain in Tigana, and in his grief and anger, he flattened Tigana and cursed everyone to forget that it ever existed, except for those who came from Tigana itself. Some years later, some survivors banded together in hopes of destroying Brandin to get Tigana back, and also to overthrow the other tyrant in the Palm. What follows is a long story of magic, psychological warfare, political intrigue, hidden identities and a story layered with so many complexities that it’s hard to pick just what side you want to win at the end.

First off: Tigana was an easy to read book. Far from, say, Tolkien’s LotR, Tigana had such an accessible language that it wasn’t so hard to get reading. It helped that our moderators provided a guide to their naming conventions and who owns what province because it helped adjusting to the novel a lot easier and listing the characters in the head easier, too. And speaking of characters, I really liked Devin from the start — he seemed like a very interesting character, and I knew, even if I have essentially no idea what was going to happen in the novel (I didn’t read the back cover blurb before I started reading) that he was in for an interesting ride. I liked how he changed from a simple musician to something else, and how he had learned to accept the discovery of his roots and defend it. The other band of people surrounding Devin were so fun to read, too — they played off each other’s characters perfectly, and I liked how they all formed a tight-knit group that were there for each other throughout the story.

But I’m making it sound like it’s all light and fluffy. Truth is, it wasn’t. Tigana is a book filled with so many twists and turns for the characters to get to a certain goal. The interesting part of this is we don’t see just one particular point of view, but several. In Tigana, we also sort of get into the mind of Brandin and Alberico, and the things that surround them. We see their motivations, and how they changed from being this person to another, to the point that it was really kind of hard to choose which side to pick at the end. This gives another layer of depth to the novel, and somehow make it a little more realistic as far as how it parallels real life. Nothing is ever black and white, and even people we have pegged to be a certain kind of person. In a way, I wished there was some sort of happy ending for everyone…but then, you can’t always get what you want.

In the end, Tigana brings about a pretty satisfying ending…and then GGK suddenly brings another thing into the mix, and then it’s over. This is the first time in the longest time that I wished there was a sequel to a novel, and a high fantasy one at that, that I would totally read. I mean, that ending! How can I not want to know what happens next?

Overall, Tigana was a really great read. I think there were just some parts that seemed unnecessarily long, but like what I said in Les Mis, those parts make up for the novel’s background and gives it a richer texture, and I think that’s what makes chunkster novels different from the usual 300-400-page books. While I still think that I’m a contemporary girl at heart, I wouldn’t mind reading more high fantasy + chunkster novels if they’re as good as Tigana.

Number of dog-eared page(s): 21

Favorite dog-eared quote(s):

The beauty we find is shaped, at least in part, by what we know the morning will bring.

He could guess, analyze, play out scenarios in his mind, but he would never know. It was a night-time truth that became a queer, private sorrow for him amid all that came after. A symbol, a displacement of regret. A reminder of what it was to be mortal and so doomed to tread one road only and that one only once, until Morian called the soul away and Eanna’s lights were lost. We can never truly know the path we have not walked.

“My third glass of a night is blue,” Alessan said. “The third glass I drink is always of blue wine. In memory of something lost. Lest on any single night I forget what it is I am alive to do.”

But time was not rewound, neither in the heart nor in the world as they knew it. It moved on, and things changed, for better or for worse; seasons changed, the hours of sunlit day went by, darkness fell and lingered and gave way to light at dawn, years spun after each other one by one, people were born, and lived by the Triad’s grace, and they died.

Words were power, words tried to change you, to shape bridges of longing that no one could ever really cross.

In this world, where we find ourselves, we need compassion more than anything, I think, or we are all alone.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Rabbitin
Angieville

Required Reading 2013: October

I knew it. I knew that my blogging would improve after I did the facelift. I wrote 8 posts in September, which isn’t really a lot compared to the Septembers in the past three years that this blog has been in existence, but it’s a little bit more regular than the past months. Yay. I still have a backlog to work through, but I’ll get to that soon! :)

September was busy in terms of my personal life, with lots of work and trips and tutoring weekends and all that. I was still a very slow reader, though, but it was okay, because…well, I can’t do much about that when life is taking over. :P With that, I finished just one book from my September list:

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (4/5) – This was surprising in the sense that I didn’t think I would like it. Then I got to the end and I was all, “Huh.” In a good way. I can’t say it’s the best book I ever read, and it still has an icky topic…but I think I understand why people say that this is one of those books that you should read in your life time. Trust me. If you think the first parts are too much, just read through it and get to the end and then see what you think about it. :)

I totally gave up on A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin because I just wasn’t in the mood. I’m sorry, reading buddies. I barely moved from page 250. :/ I’m still reading Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland #2, and I didn’t even oven Lili Wilkinson’s The Zigzag Effect. I’m actually best friends with Hannah the Kindle now, because I find that I read more when I use it. I am starting to miss paper books, though!

Required Reading 2013

October is usually the month I decide to pick scary books and all that, and I almost thought of that now…until I realized that our book club’s book for this month is a little thick. So I backtracked and chose other books instead.

October Books

  • Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay – our book club’s book of the month. This discussion will be moderated by two of my minions favorite TFG boys, Aaron and JL. I’ve heard good things about the book, but you know I’m not such a high fantasy girl, so I started on this a little early. I like what I’ve read so far, and I hope I like this as much as my minions favorite boys do. ;)
  • Trese: Stories from the Diabolical by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo – I missed paper books, but I don’t feel like picking up the regular volumes (by regular, I mean 300+ pages) because I feel like I won’t be able to read it anyway. So I decided to go back to my favorite Filipino graphic novel and read this sort-of spin-off. Stories from the Diabolical are side stories in the Trese series. I’ve scanned it earlier and there were some creepy illustrations. Hee. This should be quick and fun.

Like I said, I’m still reading The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, but I wasn’t able to put it in the picture. It’s still slow reading, but I really liked how Valente weaves her words, so I’m excited to continue with that. :)

October will be another busy month with life and stuff, plus Filipino ReaderCon 2013 preparations, and another trip (yay!), but I will try to keep blogging. :) Try is the operative word, so. :P Happy October, friends!