Tag Archives: Guy Gavriel Kay

December To Be Read

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Yesterday I posted my November Wrap-Up, so today I am posting what I would like to read in December.  I would like to finish ‘A Song for Arbonne’ by Guy Gavriel Kay, ‘Dagon and other Macabre Tales’ by H P Lovecraft and ‘Royal Assassin’ by Robin Hobb.  I would also like to read Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb and ‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey.

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November Wrap-UP and Blogmas

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I am probably going to regret typing this but I have decided to do blogmas – basically blogging every day of December.  I am going to try my best, but I have never really done anything like this before.

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Okay, so back on track.  In November I read ‘Assassin’s Apprentice’ by Robin Hobb and started ‘A Song For Arbonne’ by Guy Gavriel Kay.  I also started the sequel to ‘Assassin’s Apprentice’ called ‘Royal Assassin’ and the ‘H P Lovecraft omnibus two Dagon and other macabre tales’.

Book Reaction: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

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Yesterday I did a review on this book, so I’m not going to go into any explanation of the premise or the synopsis here.  Furthermore, if the title isn’t obvious enough, this is a spoiler review.  So you have been warned.

I picked up ‘Tigana’ because as a history student I liked how it was based on themes from real history.  The concept of a nation being not only conquered, but also made to feel ashamed of itself and forgotten intrigued me.  I think the afterword at the end of the book was a great add-on because a lot of the influences that Guy Gavriel Kay mentions are interesting.  In my opinion the book does examine the consequences of Brandin of Ygarth’s rule really well.  Many of the people who remembered Tigana wanted to forget it because they felt that it was wrong that they were still alive while so many others weren’t.  Baerd’s and Catriana’s storylines were the biggest ones that stand out in respect to this.  I thought that was interesting because it was something that I didn’t expect to feature in a story like this – the guilt that they felt for being too young, or for the actions of their fathers.  They weren’t just angry at Brandin, but at themselves and at their country fellows.

In my review I mentioned a couple of problems that I had with the book.  The one that I want to talk about here is the romance.  I hated how Catriana was relegated to Allesan’s love interest in the last hundred or so pages in the book.  Before that I’d liked her, because she was willing to do anything for her country, like all the others.  Then all of a sudden we have this ‘love confession’ where both characters realise their undying love for each other (in the space of a chapter) and she realises she has done everything for Allesan.

‘We do with our hands, our eyes, what we are afraid to say’.  She surprised herself; she hadn’t known she knew any such thing. (P 719)

I think the scene was over the top and cheapened everything that she had done.  And his lines were so cheesy… I’m shuddering just remembering them.  Devin’s love story bored me.  Baerd’s happened really quick, but it was bearable.  The exception was of course Dianora and Bradin – I hated him, but I could feel the love between them.  She gave up her foretold destiny because she couldn’t bear to leave him.

This leads me to the part of the book that to me was the best.  The ending was great.  I thought it was heartbreaking that Prince Valentin was Brandin’s Fool.  It was like the ultimate torture – Brandin not only took away the Prince’s family and his country, but he also faked his death after a year of torturing him and mutilated him so much that his own son didn’t recognise him.  Surprisingly, I didn’t hate Brandin by the end of the book – his intense love for his loved ones compared to Alberico didn’t make him the most evil man in the world.  He was bad but he wasn’t a traditional 2-D bad guy.  I could on some level feel for him.  When Valentin was revealed I was shocked, but I think the saddest part of that scene was that he didn’t hate Dianora.  Despite it all, and despite Dianora’s deep-seated fear that if anyone who knew her knew what she had become they would reject her, Valentin didn’t look down on her.

The Prince of Tigana, on the ground beside them, was looking at her with so much compassion in his newly clear eyes.  Which was a thing she could not possibly endure.  Not from him: not with what he had suffered and what she was, what she herself had done.  (P 771)

I thought that was touching.  I think that it was a very clever way to end the book, because it made sense that Valentin would kill Bradin, but it also wasn’t something that a reader could predict.  I expected Allesan to do it.   I wasn’t surprised when Dianora killed herself.  Before the big reveal I had wondered how she was going to go on or would she be allowed a normal life or would she escape.  I think it was a satisfying ending because like Valentin, it made sense.  Dianora wouldn’t have be able to live without Brandin, and she didn’t want to.

The other ending of the book was… different.  At first I thought it was going to be too happy ever after, and after poor Dianora’s end I wasn’t really in the mood for that.  I loved that the ending showed that the time ‘Tigana’ covered was not the entirety of the characters lives.  The riselka was a fantastic twist, because we know that Devin, Baerd and Sandre are not going to take the significance of the matter lightly.  One of them will have a change of path, the other will die and the third will be blessed.  Personally I think it should go like this:  Baerd has a change of path, Devin will die and Sandre will be blessed.  I think that is the most interesting outcome, because if Devin had the change of path, Sandre died and Baerd was blessed it would be way too predictable – I mean Sandre is old, Devin doesn’t want to settle down and Baerd being blessed already happened.  Baerd dying, Sandre changing and Devin being blessed would be interesting too.

The combination is completely up to the reader though because there will be no sequel.  I find that refreshing, because it is a very rare thing with a successful book, especially in fantasy.  I will be reading more Guy Gavriel Kay in the future.

Book Review: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Synopsis:

Tigana is the internationally celebrated epic of a beleaguered country struggling to be free.  It is the tale of a people so cursed by the dark sorceries of the tyrant kind Brandin that even the very name of their once beautiful home cannot be spoken or remembered.  But, years after their homeland’s devastation, a handful of men and women set in motion a dangerous crusade – to overthrow their conquerors and bring back to the world the lost brightness of an obliterated name: Tigana. 

Against the magnificently realised backdrop of a world both sensuous and brutal, this masterful novel of a passionate people pursuing their dream is breathtaking in its vision, and changes forever the boundaries of fantasy fiction. 

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If you have any experience of the fantasy reader community online you have read about ‘Tigana’.  It is one of those books that people see as revolutionary and a highlight of the genre.  It is up there with ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R. R. Martin and Steven Erikson’s ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’ series in terms of critical reception.  I think the synopsis provides a decent summary of the story-arch of the novel.  The premise is rather genius but very simple to understand – Tigana has been forgotten by all but those who were born there before the change occurred.    The book itself tells the story of two sets of characters – Alessan and his band of revolutionary heroes and Dianora, a woman who is one of the top two in Brandin of Ygarth’s harem.

My reading experience of the book was a mix.  I didn’t like the first part at all – it was really slow and confusing.  By confusing I mean that certain things happened that made it harder for me to get into the book – for instance there is a prologue told through a one-off perspective (which is okay in itself) and then the first chapter is from the perspective of a man who has no relevance to the plot and we never see him again.  Together they were quite long and the first proper chapter with Devin (the main narrator alongside Dianora) doesn’t happen until forty or fifty pages into the book.  By the time that happened I thought he wasn’t going to stick either.  Also I found the first part a bit too predictable for my liking – it is obvious from the start who Alessan is and his level of importance in the story but there are continuous hints that become boring after a while.  However once Dianora is introduced the book gets exciting.  I’m going to post a reaction//spoiler review tomorrow, so I won’t go into details here, but let me just say that she makes the book.  Her story is complex and beautifully flawed.  I would have preferred it if it had been Dianora’s story all the way, because by comparison the ‘heroes’ were just boring.  Devin is an irritating narrator, and the romance that awful.  I’m mentioning this because ‘Tigana’ wants to be an epic tale with a lot of romance put in, and there is only one that works in the entire book.  The rest is just rushed together or cringe inducing (or both).

But, and it is a big but, I loved the book.  I’m not going to say that I couldn’t put it down.  At times I did out of frustration. ‘Tigana’ is a great story underneath it all.  It is thought-provoking and most importantly it is entertaining.  It is action-packed and has perhaps the most perfect ending in a book that I have ever read.  It was equal parts bittersweet and satisfying.  The twist in Dianora’s storyline is just so brilliant that it makes up for the flaws of the book that seem minor after you have read it.  It is similar to the show ‘Dr Who’ in that it is so clever you feel like you should have seen it all along, but you didn’t and you are happy you didn’t and you want to re-read it the minute you finish it to see how the author pulled it off so seamlessly.   It just makes sense.  The ending of the book for Devin and the ‘heroes’ is good too, because you don’t expect it.

I recommend this to fans of books that are more than just cliché, people who know a bit about history, and fans of Dr. Who and Sherlock who like seeing clever tricks being pulled off before their eyes.