Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

One by one, the divided provinces of The Peninsula of the Palm had fallen, conquered by the armies and the sorcery of the two Tyrants.

Now, Alberico of Barbadior holds the provinces of the Eastern Palm while Brandin of Ygrath rules the West, and normality, of a sort, has returned to the peninsula. But for one province there can be no peace. For there is one land that dared to spill the blood of Brandin’s beloved son. A land that has been broken and burned, its towers razed and its people crushed, and through the dark magics of the Tyrant of Ygrath, had its very name erased from the world. Tigana.

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Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

My rating: ★★★★½

This was a recommendation by my friend Jeff, and it was spot on. I haven’t read a fantasy novel in years and years, and had little desire to do so, but Tigana is the perfect fantasy novel for a reader like me. If you like reading, and you like fantastic adventuring, political intrigue, and character development without having to memorize family trees, made-up maps and ten volumes worth of plot development, this book is for you too.

Since I hadn’t read the back of the book, my first surprise was that Tigana was not the chick on the cover, but a small province in an invaded country. My second surprise was that you don’t need to care a whit about Tigana itself to enjoy this book. This is the story of a group of men and women who have a mission to restore the small corner of their homeland – that their mission means nothing to anyone else, even the reader, surprisingly does not take away from the story at all. A minor character even asks at one point, “Why should I care about Tigana?”

The answer is that unless you are a citizen of Tigana, there is little reason to care, but it doesn’t matter. When you take up residence in the story, you come to care about the greater world of the characters and all whom they meet; their relationships, their motivations, their travels and intrigues. When the storytelling is this accomplished, the subject barely matters. The author is fully aware that the world of Tigana is just in a book: he focuses entirely on the pure art of storytelling and doesn’t take his role as God of a fantasy world too seriously. There is even a sex castle.