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Kay creates worlds and characters which are true. We recognize in his characters the familiar ambiguity of our own virtues and shortcomings, the complexity which marks us as human. And the world of "The Hand" in which Tigana transpires makes consistent sense in every way: politically, culturally, and in its system of magic. It is also beautifully evoked in Kay's superb prose style.
Some reviewers have complained about the predominance of interior monologue at the expense of action. In general I prefer it when an author moves a story along through event rather than introspection, but I found the lives of these characters so convincing and conflicted that I seldom minded hearing about them. I do think Kay could trim his word count some, but he writes so effectively, that I could not mind much.
And the action is so powerful and imaginative, shocking and glorious at the crucial moments, that it richly rewards the wait. Wonderful writing.
26 of 26 people found this review helpful
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I forget how I came upon this excellent author, but once I had downloaded it–read by the lyrical Simon Vance, who could, as they say, read a phone book and move you to tears –I could not put it down. Extremely engaging, extremely witty and also–extremely troubling. Violence, grotesque and nightmarish violence, is always at your elbow in this book–and in subsequent books of the author that I have encountered. There is also a certain amount of explicit sex. Not for the fainthearted, nor for the squeamish–which would usually include me, but somehow, didn’t, this time.
The story takes place in a fictional world, which however has a solid believable presence, and a tenuous relationship with medieval Italy. But so what, you say–many fantasy books are based on medieval history, many books blend fantasy with believable real world details. What this book has is all that–but also, elegant language and exceptional plotting. This is a skillful work of art, filled with gorgeous images and a certain zest for life, for singing, for drinking with friends. And even, something of a happy ending, a thing of which I am inordinately fond.
35 of 36 people found this review helpful
I first read this book in 1994, and still like it today as much as I did then. My reasons for liking it so much have, however, changed. I still think the main concept behind the novel, the Kingdom of Tigana deliberately wiped from everyone's mind, is excellent. Kay's world is beautifully described and conjours up wonderful images. I also think the characters are well realised. What has changed is that I now find the main character (Alessan) and his comrades a tad irritating. I want to tell them to quit moping about their loss, and get on with life! In contrast, I find the characters and the love story of Brandin and Dianora much more intriguing. Overall, even though my opinions on some aspects of the book have changed, it remains one of the best fantasy novels I have ever read.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Guy Gavriel Kay's head must be an interesting place! His books are always unique with fascinating stories that go to new places.
This story is difficult to describe, but a brief synopsis might help. It's a story about the suppression of an entire kingdom, so completely defeated that all knowledge of it has been magically expunged from everyone's minds. The few who do remember have a terrible, heartbreaking struggle to fight politics, magic and others' agendas to bring it back.
All his books are great. This isn't his very best - Ysabel and Lions of Al-Rassan are, IMO. Definitely worth reading.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful