Review: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay


I bought Tigana because I’d heard great things about Guy Gavriel Kay‘s books, but I didn’t want to start a series by a new author just yet. (A reason I completely neglected to remember when I was in London, where I bought two first books of two series of new authors and three books of a series – I thought it was a trilogy – of another new author.) Tigana is a stand-alone.


After the son of conqueror Brandin of Ygarth is killed in battle, his grief consumes him and he destroys the country where his son took his last breath. But his need for revenge is great and he does something horrible, something terrible to the country and the people who were born there. He takes away the name. No one, except for those who were born there and those who use magic, can hear the name of the country when it is spoken. Years have passed and the country has been given a new name, and no one remembers it like it used to be. Except those who were born there, except those who are trying their hardest to take back their country’s name. Their legacy. Their memory. Tigana. 


What a lovely novel! It’s hard for me to describe just how engrossed I was in this book. I could hardly put it down; I’ve stayed up more nights than I remember doing for the majority of the other books in my possession.

It’s so rich in…well…everything. Characters, plot, history, emotions, world building. It’s all so very on point. I’m so glad I listened to those recommendations of Guy Gavriel Kay! I’ve put his other books (most of them, anyway) on my to-buy list, that’s how much Tigana enchanted me.

What I also liked about this novel is that it’s refreshing in the way that it isn’t a “medieval” version of England or a country like it. The world was based on Italian Renaissance, and you could feel it. Not just because of the names, but the world felt more… do I say this? It felt more Mediterranean.

The emphasis on music as an inspiration, an invitation or even some form of release was a beautiful thing. It encapsulated exactly how I feel about music. The magic in the novel was used only sporadically, but that didn’t bother me at all. It was used only when necessary, and when it was, it had a great effect. I’d tell you more, but I fear my enthusiasm would make me spill all the beans, and mystery is a big part of Tigana.

It’s  great novel, which I will definitely reread in the years to come.




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