Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tigana” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.08  ·  Rating details ·  45,808 ratings  ·  2,915 reviews
A masterful epic of magic, politics, war, and the power of love and hate — from the renowned author of The Fionavar Tapestry and Children of Earth and Sky.

Tigana is the magical story of a beleaguered land struggling to be free. It is the tale of a people so cursed by the black sorcery of a cruel despotic king that even the name of their once-beautiful homeland cannot be sp
Paperback, 676 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Roc (first published August 1990)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tigana, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Rodzilla I'm a little confused here. Brandon Sanderson is a strong writer who doesn't use swear words and doesn't have sex in his books. Yet I read the Mistbor…moreI'm a little confused here. Brandon Sanderson is a strong writer who doesn't use swear words and doesn't have sex in his books. Yet I read the Mistborn series (which I enjoyed, BTW), and found blood dripping from the ceilings, vivisection, torture, and something along the lines of violent murder of the entire population of the world. They are probably the most violent books I have ever read. So I am unclear about what you mean by "clean," since you specified no graphic violence. Vivisection isn't graphic violence?

And so i wonder about our standards as a culcture. Theoretically at least, sexuality is part of the normal human experience. Is vivisection? And is the mild sexuality or occasional swear word worse than what I read in the Mistborn series? Is there something I'm missing here?(less)
George The "historical present", much more common in French than in English, is one way of giving a different "feel" to a scene, a narrator, etc.…moreThe "historical present", much more common in French than in English, is one way of giving a different "feel" to a scene, a narrator, etc.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  45,808 ratings  ·  2,915 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Tigana
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 Stars

I have this belief that 90% of the time, standalone high fantasy just won’t satisfy me. I still stand by it, but Tigana luckily is not one of those cases.

Memories and names, something that breathes life into the people and possessions we lost. Both of these can be summed up as the fabric of identity. Despite all the war, deaths, sex, hardships, betrayal, magic, deception, subterfuge, the main essence of Tigana is reclaiming your freedom, home, memories and the implication of holding
Aug 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mayim de Vries
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Imagine a state that ceased to exist. It has been swallowed on the map by hungry neighbours, swept away by winds of history and not even an empty space remains to bear witness to what once was. Things like that have happened before. Take Poland, partitioned by her three neighbours and for 123 years disappearing from the face of the world.


But where the state had vanished, the people survived. And so the people of Poland cultivated their language, their arts, their traditions, their culture. The
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,
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
Mar 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2021
Tigana was one of the few remaining popular high fantasies on my tbr list that I haven’t read yet. I was glad when it was picked as the book of the month in my book club because I never got around to reading it. I wanted to buy the physical copy (I rarely do). It’s a good thing that I’ve only borrowed it. I even recommended it to strangers as a good high fantasy standalone (mentioning that I haven’t read it) but still… I regret that. It’s not bad but it’s the type of book that the more you think ...more
Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews
Beautiful prose, but the story falls incredibly flat

I really wanted to like this book as I've had a lot of people I trust tell me that both this book, and Guy Gavriel Kay as a writer are incredible. Unfortunately, it's just clearly not written for my tastes.

I'm a fantasy fan, and I like an epic story with interesting twists. Instead what I got was a book that was essentially a historical non-fiction with some minor fantasy elements and a story that was rather limited in scope.

Guy Gavriel Kay cl
Mar 25, 2008 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
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I have been listening to this from the library for a few days! SIMON VANCE! I love him as a narrator! Next I need to get that beautiful anniversary edition to actually read, in my hands! I can never say much when I listen to books the first time around 🙄 Actually, sometimes I don’t say anything just because! 🤣😂

Anyhoo, Happy Reading!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
*** 4.66 ***

A Buddy Read with the Fantasy Buddy Reads Group, because we wanted a stand-alone for a change...

How do I even start on writing a review for this book? I think, just as most everyone else has done, I have to begin with the style of writing. It is a throwback to a time long past, it carries a lyrical magic which simmers in every sentence, and without being in itself overly flowery, it conveyed a sense of Gothic melodrama, which made me feel as if a bard of old was telling the story of
Sean Barrs
Feb 10, 2022 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: epic fantasy fans who don't want to read an entire series
Shelves: fantasy, 3-star-reads
Tigana is one of the slowest and most intricate fantasy novels I have ever read; yet, for all its deliberate pacing, it is peppered with bursts of action and surprising plot reveals.

I’m not going to sugar coat it for you: this is a difficult book to read. I've also found it quite difficult to write a review because I really liked parts of the book, but took issue with many other elements. So I will unload my critical thoughts here whilst still doing the book justice.

After a very well written
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
Full review now posted!
Original review can be found at Booknest.

The best books in any genre are the ones that move you. And I just found a new one in my very favorite genre.

“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.”

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that I’ve read hundreds of fantasy books in my lifetime. I’ve taken so many adventures through extravagantly strange worlds with casts of immensely varied characters on a multitude of nigh impossible ques
Allen Walker
Jan 17, 2022 rated it it was amazing
If GGK would leave out his gratuitous sex scenes, he could be a new favorite author, easily.
Jun 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
29/25 (116%) 6 stars.
Booktube review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjKx8...
An incredible masterpiece and the most impactful fantasy novel I’ve read since picking up The Name of the Wind three years ago. Remember me saying I want a Fantasy book by Dorothy Dunnett? This is that book. The writing is in a league of its own, the plot a water-tight embodiment of brilliance, and the setting an intriguing composition of Renaissance Italy and epic fantasy.

I've been hyped up so much before starting th
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What more can be said other than everyone should read this book. At least once. Get a feel for the beauty of language and images in motion. You won't be disappointed. Guy Gavriel 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 ...more
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. 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 is just wonderful.Without too detailed desc
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
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2020-shelf
There is a lot to love about Tigana and for Guy Gavriel Kay in general. His writing is often prose-poetical, smooth and impressionistic, and also, at times, lush. His core strengths always revolve around vast worldbuilding, complex and detailed characterizations, and fantasy worlds that are often close, if not perfectly like, real historical settings in our world.

That's not to say there aren't magic or dual moons, because there is.

This particular book is all about memory. Magic stole away the v
A masterpiece teeming with richness, complexity, beauty, sorrow, courage, love, heartbreak, poetry, brutality, and transcendence. One of the finest books I’ve ever read.
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

Reading this one with The Fantasy Guild ~DNF @50%~

“In this world, where we find ourselves, we need compassion more than anything, I think, or we are all alone.”

Tigana was a book that I had so many expectations for because literally all my friends gave it a rating of 4 or higher save for a couple of friends who rated it lower than that. This is my first time reading the author’s books but I guess the writing style is not just for
David Katzman
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
While there was much to appreciate about Tigana, there was one key aspect of the story that I couldn’t get past and roughly speaking it ruined the book for me. It’s hard to describe this matter without revealing some plot spoilers so much of this review will be hidden with a spoiler tag. I think my issue doesn’t necessarily ruin the story, but for those who already like Kay and want to read this, it would probably be better to skip what is hidden below.

The story of Tigana is essentially about th
Wanda Pedersen
Those of you who read my reviews regularly know that Guy Gavriel Kay can do no wrong in my eyes. I adore his novels and this one is no exception. The bonus this time? I met Mr. Kay at a convention last August and I can now hear his voice in my head, reading the novel to me (he has a very nice voice).

Tigana is a kingdom under a curse: the people were conquered and the name of their country can no longer be heard or remembered (except by those who lived through the conquest). When a former citizen
Em Lost In Books
I first time stumbled upon this book while searching for “best standalone fantasy novels”. It was ranked first in list made by bestfantasybooks.com 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
Kitty G Books
Mar 01, 2015 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

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
Chris Berko
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nothing to say other than this is some top-notch quality entertainment right here. Story, characters, setting, dialogue, emotion... this does all that shit and it does it all very well. I read Lions of Al-Rassan years ago, loved it. This has been sitting on my Kindle since then, I bought it as soon as I finished that one, and now I'm pissed off at me for not reading this sooner. Tigana was so rich and juicy in just about every way I love books to be I can now see why this is one of Kay's more po ...more
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All those who like a good story
Second read: August 2020
Medium: Audio
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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,finge
David Sven
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, fantasy
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)
  • The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #1)
  • Jade Legacy (The Green Bone Saga, #3)
  • The Sword of Kaigen
  • The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods, #1)
  • Promise of Blood (Powder Mage, #1)
  • The Blacktongue Thief (Blacktongue, #1)
  • Breaking: After the Thaw (The Thaw Chronicles, #2)
  • Kingdoms of Death (Sun Eater, #4)
  • The Wisdom of Crowds (The Age of Madness, #3)
  • Jade War (The Green Bone Saga, #2)
  • The Goblin Emperor (The Goblin Emperor, #1)
  • Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)
  • The Collected Poems, Vol. 2: 1939-1962
  • Best Served Cold
  • The Shadow of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Saga, #1)
  • Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)
  • Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen, #1)
See similar books…
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

Articles featuring this book

Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate...
520 likes · 292 comments
“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.” 2114 likes
“In this world, where we find ourselves, we need compassion more than anything, I think, or we are all alone.” 160 likes
More quotes…