Reread: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

June 6, 2004 at 12:00 am | Posted in 4 stars, Book Reviews, Fantasy | 1 Comment

Guy Gavriel approaching the height of his powers. His first trilogy is both too Tolkien-obsessed and too rough in terms of writing, and his later books become too bound to history and mysticism. I’m hard pressed to pick out the best of Kay’s middle three books, and while I generally rank them Lions of Al-Rassan, Tigana, and then Song for Arbonne others disagree. Certainly it is no slight to Tigana to put it under Lions. Tigana’s broad theme, regional nationalism, is rather stuffy by modern standards, and it’s easy to look down on someone (and several people do it here) invoking the word “freedom” a great deal with the expected end result of making himself monarch. Tigana’s pseudo-Italy is not quite as gritty as the worlds of his later books, but even here the first rule with Kay is you have to simply accept that his characters have modern attitudes despite their setting. If you can get past that and accept Kay’s flair for the slightly melodramatic, Tigana is a great book. His writing is considerably better than in the Finovar Tapestry and his character work is quite good. Tigana is a remarkably nuanced book, almost to a fault. If I have any complaint it is that Albericco was a little too weak and snivelling, especially after being painted in the first section of the book as a very powerful and evil figure. Watch out for Kay’s out-of-left-field stand against truth in favor of happiness near the very end of the book.

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  1. […] of Al-Rassan. I reread it recently for the third time, but the first since 2004, when I called it “a great book” with only a few […]

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