Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tigana review

NB: This re-read was inspired by Memory's readalong at Er ... I didn't really partcipate in the readalong. But I DID read the book :-)

Erm, possibly spoilers?

I apologise in advance. I don’t expect this review to be coherent, or insightful.

Tigana is one of my favourite books, ever, and I don’t even try to be objective when it comes to my favourites. J


Tigana is that rare thing – a stand-alone fantasy novel.

It’s set in a medieval-style world, ruled by two Tyrants – invaders and occupiers of the provinces of the area known as the Palm.

There’s an uneasy sort of balance, with the Tyrants – Alberico and Brandin – having control of four each of the provinces, with one maintaining a kind of unsteady independence.

Sigh. There’s so much in Tigana that it’s going to be hard to know what to leave out.



The province known as Lower Corte is the meanest and poorest of all the provinces – because its being punished for a  great loss.

And that’s what Tigana is really about, for me. It’s about the extremes of loss. (Aside: You know how The Lord of the Rings references the past all the time? I'm not making a comparison, but for me, Tigana had a very similar sort of feel. It's nostalgia, but it's lanced through with incredible pain. Aside over.)

During his first invasion of the Palm, the Tyrant Brandin lost his son, Stevan. In his grief and rage, he punished the province of Tigana as harshly as he could – by removing the very memory of it from the land itself.

The only people who remember Tigana at all – or can even hear its name – are those who were born there.

Alessan – last remaining prince of Tigana – has been working for nearly 20 years, seeking those people out, waiting for the right time to strike back at Brandin and reclaim his rightful place in the world.

Tigana is one of those deep-thinking books, that you occasionally have to put down – even though you don’t want to – because you have to digest what’s going on. There are layers, and layers, and layers.

There’s the profound loss of Tigana, and the rootlessness of the people left behind. There’s the loss of Brandin – who is a Tyrant, and a cold evil bastard yes, but his grief for his son is deep and real.

There’s the many and varied losses of the people Alessan gathers to help him regain their home – even of the youngest members of the quest, Devin and Catriana, who are too young to remember Tigana, but can hear the name, because they were both born there.

The loss that breaks my heart the most is that of Dianora – a member of Brandin’s saishan (harem) who does remember Tigana, and who vows to make Brandin pay for her loss. However, Dianora reckons without her own treacherous heart.

Sigh. I’ve made it sound like one long sob-fest, and it’s really not. It’s amazing and as near to perfect as it can be without making you go blind from staring at the sun for too long.

9/10 So good, you'd take it to meet your Mum


rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds very good. And you did a great job reviewing a fantasy because I think it's darn hard to do with all that different world stuff involved! I love the idea of how only some can even hear the name. I'm definitely adding this to my library queue!

Kailana said...

I really really need to read this! It's been in my plans for years, but I never got to it...

Fence said...

Oh I loved this book so much when I read it. I keep saying I'll reread it, and I must!