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2012 Reads > TIG: Brandin vs Alberico First impression

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David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments We learn fairly quickly that the "Palm" (peninsula of 9 provinces) is split between 2 powerful sorcerers with 4 provinces each and a neutral 9th. There exists an uneasy peace between Brandin and Alberico with neither willing to pay the price required to gain sole control of the peninsula.
Before we get to meet either sorcerer in person my initial impression was that Brandin was the "bad really evil terrible guy" while Alberico apart from being a tyrant wasn't so bad. Brandin had commited an unforgivable crime while Alberico is happy to make gestures like letting an exiled Duke of one of his conquered provinces be buried in his old seat of power and basically lets everyone get on with their lives.
Then the first time Alberico opens his mouth and then Brandin as well I find things are lot more complex than originally thought.
Anyone else share this initial impression before meeting either Tyrant in person?


Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments I think that was the point, every single aspect of this book was not as it seemed at first, we are even initially lead to believe Devin was the musician at the first bar, when really it was Alessan. This is why I loved this book so much. You couldn't take anything for granted.

I found Brandin very likeable, maybe not if you were unfortunate to be on his bad side, but Alberico was a prick from the moment you meet him at the Sandrini cabin...


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Yes, once we get to Brandin's court we find he is an entirely different animal to Alberico.
Alberico is quite easy to dislike. A power hungry usurper. Driven and consumed by ambition and surrounded by ambitious men.

Brandin on the other hand is far more complex and I found myself feeling the same internal conflict of Dianora. I want to hate him. I probably should hate him. But I just couldn't. Of all the characters in the book, Brandin is the one that distracts me the most now that I have turned the last page.

Kay leads us on an emotional journey as he communicates that profound sense of loss felt by Devin and Allesan and co. But what is masterfully understated is the depth of Brandin's grief at the loss of his own son. A grief so deep and pervasive that he has spent almost twenty years away from his home and the rest of his family for the sole purpose of seeing through a terrible burning soul/mind twisting vengeance - that he keeps on the boil by (major spoiler)(view spoiler)


Aeryn98 | 175 comments I had no trouble disliking both Tyrants. Yes, Brandin felt deeply the death of his eldest son, but he abandons his other one to pursue this relentless vengeance. His treatment of the people of the Palm is in no way benevolent. Any time I read the reminiscences he makes to Dianora, that were supposed to bring out his sympathetic side, I just kept thinking of the tortures he devised for the people there. And nothing..nothing excuses (view spoiler) And the little glimpses of the man Brandin could be if he didn't have this hatred in his heart were way too little for me to like or sympathize with him.

Alberico was just a .....


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Aeryn98 wrote: "Alberico was just a ....."

Alberico needs fewer words to dismiss.
I agree there is no justifying either tyrants cruelty. But one is definitely more "casual" than the other. Alberico is cruel by nature. While Brandin's cruelty is a deliberate and slow "twisting" of a person, people and peoples (he has messed with the memory of the whole of the Palm). In this he is actually the more "cruel" of the two.
Yet, having children myself, Brandin's motivations I find more accessible. What would you do if you had God like powers and someone had killed your child. I can't imagine what pain that sort of loss would bring. And its difficult to imagine what sort of vengeance I would want to exact if it were in my power to do so. Brandin gives a few ideas. If you could, would you? Would I be able to let it go? Brandin's actions shows us what could possibly happen if one was not willing to let it go. How vengeance and hatred given full sway can twist a soul, not just one's own, and not just the object of that vengeance, but all those around you, even the ones you love.


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Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments I think the problem is that when we read a book, we tend to be judgmental of the characters based on what you feel is right...

Unfortunately, because it is fiction, it is very easy to cast blame and say the characters were "not likeable because that's not right and they shouldn't have done that". I call BS on this sentiment simply because in real life, there are many everyday examples of people who are in similar situations and only those in the same situation can understand...

Warning, my example has Spoilers: (view spoiler)

My point is that it is easy to say Brandin could not be liked because "I would never do that", but the point Kay tries to make is that Brandin did make his choices, even if he did not like the outcome. (view spoiler) (Which again, a lot of people make choices regardless of what makes most sense.)

Fact is that the characters where very well done, if anyone thinks they were unbelievable then the problem is that they have no way of identifying with those characters. (ie. don't have a real life situation to see parallels in.)


Ctgt | 329 comments I find myself very conflicted by Brandin. David, I agree, as a parent I'm not sure to what depths I may sink if this were to happen in my own life. On the face, he would appear the more sympathetic character. However, I can't get past two things in particular. First, through his actions, Brandin basically lost his whole family. How do you turn your back on the rest of your family? Maybe for a short time, but several decades? I can't come to grips with that. Secondly, with the revelation at the end, that spoiler , it is hard for me to sympathize with his character.


Ctgt | 329 comments Sorry about that. I guess my spoiler insert didn't work. If you finished the book you know what I am talking about with Brandin at the end.


Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments Ctgt wrote: "However, I can't get past two things in particular. First, through his actions, Brandin basically lost his whole family. How do you turn your back on the rest of your family? Maybe for a short time, but several decades? I can't come to grips with that."

This was my point... It's one of those, "On the outside looking in" situations... Haven't you seen people get so blinded by greed, or hate that they do things that are irrational? This is what happened to Brandin.

When you have something happen to you that you can't let go of, some people may be able to keep their wits about them, others lose track of what is important. (view spoiler)


Aeryn98 | 175 comments Oh I agree the characters were well done and believable. Doesn't mean I have to like or sympathize with them.

I felt a kind of child-like aspect to all of Brandin's actions. The depth of his vengeance as a child's tantrum, without logic or restraint. Because of his god-like powers things had probably always been easy and gone his way. His taking of the rest of western Palm had been almost without effort. Then comes Tigana, which not only put up a fight, but kills his son. While his neglect of the other son made me question whether it was about the death of Stephan at all or just the bruise to his own ego.


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Ctgt wrote: "How do you turn your back on the rest of your family? Maybe for a short time, but several decades? I can't come to grips with that. Secondly, with the revelation at the end, that spoiler , it is hard for me to sympathize with his character."

I don't sympathize with Brandin in the least bit - nor is there any justification for what he has done. But the reason Brandin's character is accessible emotionally (to me anyway) is because I recognise those dark places. I know in situations where there has been some injustice done to myself or more often to people I love, the first response is usually, well maybe we should go pay such and such a visit and grab them by the . . . . and rip out their . . . and kick their . . . and make them eat . . . and then see how smart they are. And then I think we'll just end up in jail and really they are lot bigger than us and which overpaid banking executive do we pin the blame on anyway etc etc.

I've never imagined twisting someone for twenty years but there are probably a few people who have infuriated me enough to imagine wrapping the fingers around and slowly squeezing. Not as slow as Brandin but . . it's usually just a brief fantasy. If something happened to my child though???

No I'm not a violent person - but can sometimes imagine myself to be to get even. Point is Brandin's character shows us the destructive path unrestrained anger, hatred and vengeance can take you.


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Ctgt | 329 comments Nimrod wrote:
When you have something happen to you that you can't let go of, some people may be able to keep their wits about them, others lose track of what is important.


I couldn't agree more. You hope you would be able to overcome, but who knows?


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Ctgt | 329 comments David Sven wrote: "I know in situations where there has been some injustice done to myself or more often to people I love, the first response is usually, well maybe we should go pay such and such a visit and grab them by the . . . . and rip out their . . . and kick their . . . and make them eat . . . and then see how smart they are."

I hear you! Going all "Punisher" on them.

David Sven wrote: "Point is Brandin's character shows us the destructive path unrestrained anger, hatred and vengeance can take you"

Yes!


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Darren wrote: "but I am sure that his penchant for public and grisly executions are there in the first chapter.

Hmmm. Grissly and public executions is pretty much par for the course when it comes to a lot of military conquerors/invaders - not so much in fantasy but certainly in historical fiction and even in real history. Sure we can go ahead and label the lot of them as very "evil" but does that make them less "human?" And if I'm a citizen of the conquered state the more urgent question is, "How safe is my family?"
Would my family be safer in Alberico's territories or in Brandin's?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Alberico at first appears to be the lesser of two evils - or at least he appears more reasonable and "regal" in the initial narration than when we first meet him in person.

"through Dianora's damaged eyes" - Thats an interesting take on things. Something I'll have to ponder a bit on.


Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments @Darren, you also see a glimpse of what others think of Brandin though, not just Dianora...

(view spoiler)

There were other moments that lead me to see that it was not just Dianora that felt Brandin was not so bad. Including (view spoiler)


Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments David Sven wrote: "Hmmm. Grissly and public executions is pretty much par for the course when it comes to a lot of military conquerors/invaders - not so much in fantasy but certainly in historical fiction and even in real history. "

There is always two sides to one coin... I am sure our presidents have looked like Tyrants to other parts of the world and I know sometimes we agree with them about certain presidents, but if a leader decides that the best course of action is to attack a country, does that make him evil?

Alberico seemed to be a jerk for no reason other than his personal gain... At least Brandin had emotional reasons for the evil things he did, even if they were inexcusable.


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Nimrod wrote: "@Darren, you also see a glimpse of what others think of Brandin though, not just Dianora...

Rhamanus chooses to die rather than surrender and help take down Brandin.

"My name is Rhamanus. I offe..."


Ahhh - that is a very good point Nimrod.
Brandin, unlike Alberico, has people who love him even to the point of willing to sacrifice themselves for him. Yes, there are people in his court that hate him equally as much, but Brandin come's across as someone who commands fanatical loyalty - certainly he comes across as having earned that loyalty with his soldiers. This becomes even more evident at the end (view spoiler)
Alberico's men however are mercenaries - and none come across as being willing to risk themselves unless there is something in it for them.


Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments Alessan may have known, but the part I felt gave credit to Brandin was how everyone reacted to Alessan punching the other man. everyone cheered him on because they all had wanted to shut him up due to what he was saying... I took that as a sign of respect for Brandin and Dianora....


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Darren wrote: "Was I the only one who thought of it as "Barbados" when reading the book? "


No. Lol.

And you make some very good points re Alberico. We do indeed learn the extent of Alberico's tyranny as we go. But I felt there was a little misdirect there at the beginning. Possibly a good reasonable side with his gesture re Sandre's funeral - until we get to the cabin.


P. Aaron Potter (paaronpotter) | 585 comments I actually find Brandin much more despicable than Alberico, specifically *because* he seems capable of honest emotion. Alberico's just a sociopath. He's cruel and paranoid and selfish, but hey, he knows no better. Brandin, who knows what it means to lose a child, to feel exiled from those you love, who knows the meaning of loyalty...is still a relentless, child-murdering, genocidal SOB.

Alberico just merits a quick death. Brandin's fate should be much worsr: he should be made to feel what he has done, preferably for a long time, before he is allowed to die.


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments P. Aaron wrote: "Alberico just merits a quick death. Brandin's fate should be much worsr: he should be made to feel what he has done, preferably for a long time, before he is allowed to die. "

This is why Brandin is interesting. He is capable of eliciting MORE from the reader.

Bradin is so much MORE than Albrico in so many ways.
More powerful(view spoiler). More cruel. More clever. More bitter. He has More loyalty from his men. More love from his court. More hate from his enemies (and family).


Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments Of course many people find Brandin more despicable. He's a complex human being, like most of us, and not a one-dimensional villain. He inspires great loyalty from his followers, is capable of deep and passionate love, is capable of turning over a new leaf because of that love, and clearly grieves the loss of his son. But he's also capable of monstrous acts, sometimes in the name of his grief.

Alberico is the kind of ruthless, heartless, self-interested oppressor that we like to believe most tyrants and conquerors are. He's basically a moustache-twirling villain. Brandin is probably closer to the kind of person most tyrants and conquerors actually were: we'd probably find a lot to like about them as human beings if we could divorce them from the actions they're remembered for.


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments The other thing to bear in mind is that for Brandin's sorcery to work, Alberico has to go along with it. Its probably the only reason Brandin's let him keep 4 provinces. Its in Alberico's interest to allow the memory of an inspiring rebellion be erased as well as to hunt down sorcerers who are immune to the memory spell. His motivation would simply be to eliminate competition of course.
I like how Brandin is always the one (from memory) who keeps making the political jibes - Alberico is afraid of Brandin, but Brandin has no fear of Alberico.


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Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments @David, (view spoiler)


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Sky Corbelli | 352 comments Alberto was a bad ruler because all of his decisions were made in the pursuit of power.

Brandin was a bad ruler because all of his decisions were made in the throws of passion.

Both sorcerer kings lacked the lesson that Alessan learned... that compassion is the most important thing. A commentary on our world? You know it.

Also, I feel like there's a triforce analogy here... but it's been too long since I've played The Legend of Zelda for me to make it...


Jonathon Dez-la-lour (jd2607) | 173 comments Brandin and Alberico are both as bad as each other, they 'rule' in very different ways and react to situations very differently but nontheless they're both tyrants.

Brandin rules the western palm with his anger and passion to fuel him, but there are hints in the way that certain characters react to him that suggest he has some minor redemptive qualities. He's clearly a very charismatic man given the number of folk who follow him willingly. I'd compare his ruling style to the 'carrot & stick' method, he's willing to be seen to reward those who are loyal to him but then punish those he feels need to be made an example of.

Alberico, however, rules with a cold lust for power that makes him a much more inherently fear-inducing character. Of the two, he's the one I wouldn't want to be locked in a room with, he'd probably torture and kill you out of boredom. He rules through fear alone, there's been no-one so far that has any love for him - his army is made entirely of mercenaries who are only in it for the coin and the people of the eastern palm all hate him.

If I had to pick two comparable characters from Earth's history, I'd say that Brandin is most like Hitler, who was incredibly charismatic and a skilled orator. People did genuinely love and respect him for a long time and he did do some remarkable good in regards to unemployment and inflation, but at the end of the day as polite and charming as the man could reportedly be, he was still responsible for despicable acts.

Alberico, on the other hand, I would say is more like Mao. He instills fear in people to force them into submission and actively seeks to destroy anything that could potentially threaten his rule. He's much more cold and calculating, not so much interested in winning over the people but in preserving himself and his regime.


Charles (CAndrews) | 60 comments I thought I'd throw in a few points as a bit of a Devil's Advocate.

On the idea that Brandin abandons his family in pursuit of revenge. His eldest son is his heir and has been trained to take over. Brandin clearly believed him quite capable of that. It is also possible that he did not love his wife (consider that love in marriage is a fairly recent idea, especially in a royal couple). (view spoiler) Whereas he came to the palm specifically to carve out a kingdom for his younger son suggests that he loved his son more.

Brandin is also a king. It is clear he knows how to rule along with the burdens of office. Some things have to be done because that is the way of things and it would cause great disturbances among his subjects if he were to change things. (view spoiler)

(view spoiler)


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David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Charles wrote: "It is also possible that, towards the end, he was maintaining his spell against Tigana more to finish what he started in anger than as continued anger."


If we recall this excerpt from the (view spoiler)

And Brandin of the Western Palm, who had been the King of Ygrath when he first came to this peninsula, cried aloud then, in a voice that seemed to flay and shred the very air:
‘Oh, my son! Stevan, forgive me what I do'


(view spoiler)


Michael (mrmlk) | 3 comments @David - could you spoiler-tag that last post? Cheers.


message 30: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 34 comments Interestingly enough, if you read Kay's Afterword, he writes that he envisioned Brandin as being one of the glorious, scheming rulers from the greatest traditions of the Borgias or the Medicis; and Alberico was more the brutal survivor from the Politburo. I think the text fairly well conveyed each attitude. We never really saw Alberico's court, but I imagine it would have been dour.

And one minor note: even though Alberico was 'magnanimous' enough to give Sandre a state funeral, two things: (view spoiler)


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Erick Taggart | 71 comments Not having finished yet, I think that the initial impression you get is that they're both terrible, despotic rulers, and their actions speak towards that: each has committed terrible acts that are basically not justifiable in any way.

But the really interesting thing is how Kay humanizes them, almost to the point of forgetting how bad they really are. In the scene at the hunting lodge, I almost felt worried for Alberico because of Kay's description of what happened to him and the effects that it had. And reading through the sections with Brandin right now, he seems charming and interesting and he draws you in. But then you get jarred back into reality when you stop and think about the death wheels and destruction and despotic ruling. It makes for more intriguing characters in a still classically fantasy book of good vs. evil.


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W.R. Edmunds (wredmunds) | 28 comments On initial impressions, Brandin seemed like a true monster of a tyrant and Alberico less so. However, as I have now significantly progressed through the book, I consider them both not very nice individuals, even though I sympathize more with Brandin.

I think that my sympathy for Brandin stems from the fact that he is a better and more responsible ruler than Alberico is; most of Brandin's actions stem from doing what is best for Ygrath and the people under his rule. This is in opposition to Alberico who is operating purely for his own greed.

For some explanation...
(view spoiler)


Linguana | 148 comments It was the same for me. While we only hear about them second-hand, Alberico seems to be a tyrant but Brandin seems to be super evil. After all, he's the one who did The Thing to Tigana.

In Dianora's part already, I felt much more benevolent towards Brandin, though and now (I'm not quite halfway through the book) that I got to see Alberico, I find him much easier to hate. What a greedy, power-hungry bastard!

It is fascinating, though, that Brandin at least, who we get to know as "the evil guy" could grow on me so much. I may not like him but I understand Dianora's conflict.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) To me, Alberico was Caligula, Brandin was Alexander the Great.


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