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4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  30,740 Ratings  ·  1,749 Reviews
Tigana: the escape that brings you home

With this rich, masterfully written extravaganza of myth and magic the internationally acclaimed author of the Fionavar trilogy has created an epic narrative that will change for ever the boundaries of fantasy fiction.

Set in a beleaguered land caught in a web of tyranny, Tigana is the deeply moving story of a people struggling to be f
Paperback, 688 pages
Published 1990 by Penguin Books
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While reading this book over the past month, I thought a lot about the differences between youth and adulthood, between young beliefs and mature ones. And I think that maybe our youth is the only time that we can hold simple, firm convictions. Maybe it’s the only time that it’s possible to believe completely that love will conquer all, or that there are good guys and bad guys, or that if we try hard enough, we can achieve anything we dream about. In our youth, we can say things like, “I would ne ...more
Springtime morning in Avalle
I don’t care that the priests say:
I’m going down to the river today
On a springtime morning in Avalle.

When I’m all grown up, come what may
I’ll build a boat to carry me away
And the river will take it to Tigana Bay
And the sea even further away from Avalle

But wherever I wander, by night or by day
Where water runs swiftly or high trees sway,
My heart will carry me back and away
To a dream of the towers of Avalle

Twenty years ago, the nine quarrelling city-states of the Penins
mark monday
oh Tigana! 20 years ago, the warring lands of the peninsula known as The Palm were invaded and conquered by two opposing Tyrants, and split into two. during this time of war and magic, one land was punished, transformed, forgotten.

20 years later, a band of men and women fight to reclaim that land, its history, their memories. oh Tigana!


memories of a distant life can be a strange and beautiful and sorrowful thing. i can remember places, scenes, people in the land where i was born,
Jun 01, 2013 Pietro rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book, but I'm an oddity; in fact, virtually every other human being seems to love it unconditionally. So if you stumble upon it, give it a try, chances are you'll find it awesome.

So.. what didn't I like about it?
Well, pretty much everything.
This book, in short, tells about the vengeful crusade of a group of refugees from the once-great city of Tigana, destroyed years before by the mage Brandin.
Cool, uh?
For starters, nobody cares about the destruction of Tigana.
In fact, the pro
May 28, 2009 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The greatest strength of Tigana -- Guy Gavriel Kay's masterpiece -- is the "ambiguity" of his characters' ethics. Fantasy, as a genre, suffers from the widespread simplicity of its expressions of good and evil. Kay consistently transcends this genre weakness, and Tigana marks his first and greatest break with the good vs. evil tradition. Tigana is full of characters who struggle with their decisions and the impact those decisions have on others.

Alessan, the "hero" of the piece, enslaves a wizar
This is a review with pictures in it. I see people doing this, and I want to as well. I can haz cats also, yes?

Yes, I am jealous. I want to be one of the cool kids.

Anyway, this ye old secondary world fantasy, with maps and kingdoms princes and things and everything.

I want to go on a quest too!

No, not like that, silly. It is Deep and Melancholy and Meaningful. Like this:
Swoon with Horse

Do you SEE? It is FUZZY and PASTEL COLORED and there is BOOBS. That means it is PROFOUND.

Women in this book are not marginalized onto these pedestals replete with bizzaro stupid sexualization for no discern
Sep 16, 2016 Jaya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All those who like a good story
Tigana is a book that will put you through all the emotions that exist. I am seriously exhausted (in a good way). Reading this book was a great experience. Some of the best characters that I have read in a long time. The story build-up is awesome, to epic proportions. By the time the book reached its climax I was all clammy-palmed-stuttering-heart-hanging-from-the-edge-of-my-seat no,fingernails not bitten to stubbs at all.

Something fell a no
David Sven
May 31, 2012 David Sven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favourites
Reading Tigana was like sipping liquid chocolate. Exquisite! I found myself many times deeply and profoundly moved. Kay was able to communicate the profound sense of loss felt by a dispossessed people and without the aid of music or even lyrics bring the music within the book alive to touch the imagination. I felt the mournful tones of the pipes, and the heart wrenching voice of Devin as he sings.

Kay makes us imagine what it would be like if the memory of your home is removed not only from your
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This is the first book by Kay I've ever read, and one of only three books on my shelves signed by the author (one of only two signed specifically to me, and the only one I actually got myself). Its size is daunting if you're not a regular fantasy reader, but it's a stand-alone novel and would be disappointing if it were any shorter.

Tigana is about a great many things, but the central plot and theme of the novel is the subjugation of the people of the Peninsular of the Palm (modelled after Italy
What would you do if your very roots were obliterated from the pages of history? How would you feel if your every memory is yours alone, something that cannot be shared, even if you wanted to? What would it mean to you if you were from a place that no one remembers? How would you live if your entire life were to depend on not being annihilated by those who want you gone forever? Questions like these and the answers to some of them are what you find in this magnum opus by Kay.

Tigana is a story o
Apr 05, 2015 Kaitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this book a 4* rating despite not being sure until the very last chapter about if it would be a 3*s or 3.5*s or 4*s. I was pretty sure by the time I finished up the book that it was a solid 3*s but I then read the author's afterword and he states all of his influences and what he wanted to achieve with the book and I decided that this had to be a 4* book because I totally understood where he was coming from and it really resonated true with me.

This book certainly feels a lot more hist
May 23, 2007 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of fantasy, lovers of myth. This rises above the fantasy genre, without question.
It says that I read this back in January 2000. It would be more accurate to say that I've read this book since January 2000. I've read this book no less than ten times. I own the 10th Anniversary Edition as well now, because I expect my first one to fall apart very soon. It's lost at least one cover being passed around among all my friends throughout high school.

One day I will write a real review of this! Just can't put my thoughts together yet.
Jun 15, 2016 Ivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It's been long time since I read standalone fantasy book.

So far I mostly avoided Kay for no particular reason and I came into possession of this book almost by accident and what a happy accident it was as this turned out to be wonderful and pretty unique book.

I already encountered combination of heroic fantasy characters in grimdark setting from another Canadian author, Steven Erikson, but Kay does it with his own unique flavor.

World building in this book just wonderful.Without too detailed desc
Sep 05, 2008 Siria rated it it was ok
I really liked the ideas behind this story—the power of names in the face of colonialism, in the face of enforced forgetfulness—but there was just too much in the writing that worked against my enjoyment of it. Kay's style has improved from what it was in the Fionavar series, but it's still clunky and laboured (and desperately in need of some commas), while the world-building is pedestrian and two-dimensional. Many of the better-drawn characters are unengaging, and most of the cast are such clic ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed
This story is, at its essence, about how the past influences the present. The protagonists are driven to reclaim their homeland not just from a conquering army, but from a magical spell that prevents others from remembering or even hearing their homeland's name, Tigana. Within a generation any knowledge of their land, its history and culture will be forever lost.

Instead of a fast paced, sword and sorcery story, Tigana is rather reflective. There are several POV characters that spend a good deal
Duchess Nicole
Dec 12, 2012 Duchess Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard core epic fantasy fans
3.5 stars

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Don't let my 3.5 rating fool you...this book was written by an amazing storyteller. It's a book that I can't possibly do justice in a review, and I encourage you to read some of the other reviews written by those who are more eloquent with wor
This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for *coughcough* six years. And then, wouldn't you know it, but I don't even read it, but instead download an audiobook. Because knitting. (I do that a lot, actually.)

This is my second GGK novel, and I liked this one quite a bit more than I liked the first one, though apparently that makes me a heathen or something. I DID like The Lions of Al-Rassan, but I just didn't love it. Jeez! I'm not sure that I necessarily loved this one either, but it spoke to

The Peninsula of the Palm is a place divided -- but not against itself. Its nine provinces are occupied territory, under the power of foreign wizards. Brandin of Ygrath holds the east, while Alberico of Barbadior holds the west. Each state has been allowed to maintain its identity -- except for one, cursed to oblivion.

But a few people remember. They are determined to get their home back; and to free the entire Palm in the process.
Before I can say anything else, I have to gush about the writing
Tigana offers a story about memory. How important is it to remember the past and how dangerous is it to overdo it?
This also relates to the question of freedom. Is freedom really the ultimate goal. Is it worth every sacrifice, or is there are line where the price becomes too high.

Guy Gavriel Kay asks this questions enveloped in a beautiful gown of lyrical prose and mythical tale. Most prominently featured are the young musician Devin and Dianora, a courtesan of the powerful wizard-king Brandin.
Sep 11, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: SciFi & Fantasy Group 2009-05 Fantasy Selection
This was the Fantasy selection for the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club for the month of May 2009. Visit this link to see all of the discusions, group member reviews, etc.

If Goodreads had half-stars, I would have dropped this to only 4-1/2, but more on that below.

Tigana is among the handful of fantasy novels that can make me wonder whether Tolkien is as good as I remember him, or as good as his reputation. It has been many years since I read Lord of the Rings, and I almost never re-read boo
Nov 23, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and Mario Puzo. With a little Tolkien thrown in.
I really can't decide whether to rate this a 4 or 5 star, but I'll go with 5. There is more that I like about this book than dislike.

Overall, I love the story. It is quite the epic, and it seems a waste of great worldbuilding to contain it to one volume. On the other hand, it is good to see such a marvelous work that stands on its own, without a dozen sequels, prequels, and hard to find novellas. In fantasy, that is a rare treat.

Still, this is a world I'd like to visit again someday. The story i
Nov 24, 2013 Hanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of Tigana is one of the most interesting backbones for a fantasy story I’ve seen in a while: The Palm is being invaded by two competing foreign magicians, one of them is Brandin, better known as ‘The Tyrant’. The province of Tigana holds out for a long time, winning a big battle to keep their independence, and killing Brandin's favourite son in the process. Burning with rage Brandin takes charge of the war himself and ends it in a dramatic way: the province is under his control, the ...more
Scribble Orca

(That was meant to be a pain-filled gasp.)

I lost interest. Yes, I have attention-deficit syndrome. I'm also a dreadful pragmatist insisting on information (information!) spoon-filled into my needs-facts-for-fuel brain (there's a review somewhere by Greg about this despicable phenomenon and eventually I will hyperlink it).

Perhaps Mr Kay's editor was on holiday. I drowned in a sea of 'ly'. Continually. This was genre-bender of the gratuitous-sex-as-the-McGuffin-when-magic-fails kind. And in ca
Executive Summary: An enjoyable stand-alone fantasy book that is a little uneven in places but really brings shades of gray to the characters and the story.

Audio book: Simon Vance seems like the perfect reader for this book. I first encountered him as part of the great ensemble readers for Dune. I don't recall any particular voices of note, however. He does do Scottish accents for folks from "The Highlands". Overall I think he does an excellent job that is a good fit for the tone of the story.

I first time stumbled upon this book while searching for “best standalone fantasy novels”. It was ranked first in list made by for standalone novels. So I went ahead and gave it a shot.

First chapter of the book went straight above my head and I was totally clueless what the story was about. But I continue reading (and thank the heaven for that) and after 3rd chapter the confusion was gone. After that I was totally unable to put it down.

I don't think my review can do justic
Aug 18, 2016 Giovanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it has been a while since I read some epic fantasy. I might be mistaken though, but I think the last one I read is Kushiel's Avatar. It's just that this year I've tried to read books from a wider variety of genres, because that's what I wanted to do, and so I ended up not reading as much high fantasy as I would have liked to. I think that Tigana was a good book to get back into the right mood.

I realised in the last year, maybe year and a half, that my standards have changed. I don't kno
Feb 08, 2015 Anirudh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anirudh by: Manju
Shelves: fantasy
Before reading Tigana, it was inconceivable for me to picture a stand alone fantasy book without any intention or hope of a series. I often wondered how it would be possible to create a whole new world in just one book and give it a satisfactory ending. When I read this book, I finally understood.

Tigana is not a book. It is a journey. A journey through the lives of men and their emotions. A journey of wonder, a journey of pain and a journey of understanding. Rarely do you come across a book as
Alex Ristea
Jun 12, 2012 Alex Ristea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shoot, I'm writing this review way too late.

Tigana deserved all the five stars I gave it, and then some.

The writing was fantastic and intricate, I immediately fell for the characters, and the world-building was detailed but presented well. (If you know how much I hate info-dumps, and how often it happens in fantasy, then you'll appreciate when a book does it well.)

My most favourite part about this book was how it toyed with my perceptions of characters. We read one point-of-view and think this
Jun 29, 2016 Mimi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What more can be said other than everyone should read it. At least once. You won't be disappointed. Kay is a great prose writer. It doesn't even matter if fantasy isn't your thing because this book does not read like fantasy. It reads like the sort of well-written historical fiction that weaves in myths to tell the tales of a lost time. A personal favorite combination, I must admit. Also, I'm coming off of a dramatic final battle/confrontation scene... so this is a hugely biased review.

Review mo
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Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction. Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid. Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy, though the author himself has expressed a preference to shy away from genre categoriz ...more
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“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.” 2021 likes
“In this world, where we find ourselves, we need compassion more than anything, I think, or we are all alone.” 122 likes
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