Book Review: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay


General Fiction > Fantasy

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.

Literary Awards: World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (1991), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee (1991), Prix Aurora Award for Best Long Form in English (1991)


I would have love this book, if only Dianora is braver, or her brother had a happy ending, or Catriana did not end up with the most unlikely partner. So many ifs, that even if the fantasy was grand, I could not give it a 4, knowing that these chinks in Tigana‘s armor do not bother me at all. Because they do. A lot.

The pace was slow, at the start, until I’m halfway done. See the patience I have of seeing Tigana through? And yet when the war began, it coalesced, then consumed my thinking, because there’s no stopping Alessan’s small band of warriors into ending Brandin‘s and Alberico‘s reign once and for all.

The plot was really good.

Until a warrior ends up coupling with a new acquaintance after winning a battle (what is up with that?!). And Alessan declares his love for this woman (because there’s no way I read anything about a romantic connection between them, nor flirty insinuations at that matter, throughout the book!). And Dianora taking the easy way out of her miserable life (and you call yourself a survivor of Tigana, you have no spine!).

(Don’t mind Devin. He’s a man-slut. Heh. :D) I actually like Brandin.

If you don’t mind how characters end up in a book, then by all means, read Tigana. Pick it up if only for the intriguing story of how a man, a father, leveled a city and erased them from history, just to avenge his dead son.


TIGANA by Guy Gavriel Kay

Ebook, 692 pages

Published  February 10th 2011 by Harper Voyager
3/5 stars