Book Review: Tigana by Kay (5 stars)

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

5 out of 5 stars

Read in August 2008

A parent’s grief at the death of their child can be a terrible thing. When that parent is the world’s most powerful wizard, and his beloved son dies in battle in one of the last provinces to be conquered, the grief becomes an all encompassing spell. And so starts the drama that is Tigana and the struggles for independence and remembrance against Brandin (the Tyrant and sorcerer).

My first thoughts when I started reading this story were of events in our own history where tyrants have tried and very nearly succeeded in obliterating a race of people. Tigana takes this one step further. Brandin, in his grief and yearning for revenge, pursues the path of genocide but also casts a spell which makes it impossible for anyone to remember the name of the province where his son died. Only those born in that province before his spell was cast can say the name – Tigana. Brandin plans to extend his life sorcerously so that he will outlive anyone who had been born in Tigana, thereby sealing his revenge forever and assuaging his grief.

The tale revolves around several key remnants of Tigana, namely Allessan, the youngest and only surviving prince of Valentin, Prince of Tigana; Baerd, son of Valentin’s sculptor and Alessan’s right hand man; Dianora, Baerd’s sister and lover, who was taken in tribute under a false identity (the tribute captain believed she was from a different province). Dianora becomes a saishan (like a mistress or concubine in Brandin’s harem) and eventually wins Brandin’s love. There are many other characters, all of whom are entangled and ensnarled by the circumstances which are boiling and erupting across the peninsula of the Palm.

I will restrain myself from spoiling the ending. I will say that even though this is a fantasy, and there is magic and magical creatures, all of this is merely a background to the drama of the lives hurtling along the paths of their destinies.

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