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Tigana
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2012 Reads > TIG: Why I loved this book and will never read it again

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message 1: by Sky (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments This was a wonderful story. Often predictable, but built on some good concepts in a well imagined world. I have a feeling that I would have liked the characters, maybe even found them endearing, but this really wasn't a book about them at all. The plot was interesting, the prose was imaginative, and I am glad I read it.

I'm not going to complain about the wandering point of view, the excessive use of the flashback, or the deus ex machina feel of nearly every new concept.

The real problem was the words. There were far too many of them.

I can't count the number of times this book went wandering off on a three paragraph tangent to describe the mood of a town or give a history of a person in an attempt to show how clever the author was being. I don't need that. I don't want that. So I sighed, rolled my eyes, and fought the urge to skim. There's a time for literary exposition, and it isn't always.

Granted, the writing made a good deal more sense when I got to the About the Author section. The Silmarillion is enough to make anyone pen a hundred words where ten would suffice. But a book shouldn't be finished when there's nothing left to add; it should be finished when there's nothing left to take away. Too many passages just plain didn't add to the story. All they did was add to the word count.

Now, I get leery when I start reading really verbose books. I always get the sneaking suspicion that it's written that way to cover up for some lack of something in the rest of the story. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, in Tigana, all those words were just to water the story down. I think I liked, or at least understood, most of the characters. I'm not certain, though, because their personalities got crushed under the weight of the words.

I read because I want my imagination captured, nurtured, and left enriched, and I can honestly say that Tigana managed this. Rarely, however, there books that accomplish this so gracefully that I will happily read them again. But after fighting the writing to stay caught in the plot, I have to say that this was not such a book.

So, did you find the amount of words saddening at times? Did you ever feel like the narrator was a rambling, slightly senile old man (had it turned out that the story was being told by Scelto many years later, I would have applauded)? Does the irony of my writing so much to complain about verbosity amuse you half as much as it does me? I doubt it, personally.


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments As I'm currently reading The Malazan series - I have a skewed opinion as to what counts as an excessive amount of words. I suspect when I'm done with Steven Erikson it will take a lot of words to count as "excessive."

Yes, I did appreciate the irony in writing so much to complain about verbosity. I've therefore taken it upon myself to edit your post down to a minimum.


This was a wonderful story. Often predictable, but built on some good concepts in a well imagined world. I have a feeling that I would have liked the characters, maybe even found them endearing, but this really wasn't a book about them at all. The plot was interesting, the prose was imaginative, and I am glad I read it.

I'm not going to complain about the wandering point of view, the excessive use of the flashback, or the deus ex machina feel of nearly every new concept. as you have already stated you are not going to complain I went ahead and struck out the subsequent complaint

The real problem was the words. There were far too many of them.

I can't count the number of times this book went wandering off on a three paragraph tangent to describe the mood of a town or give a history of a person in an attempt to show how clever the author was being. I don't need that. I don't want that. So I sighed, rolled my eyes, and fought the urge to skim. (Already implied by the previous comment) There's a time for literary exposition, and it isn't always.

Granted, the writing made a good deal more sense when I got to the About the Author section. The Silmarillion is enough to make anyone pen a hundred words where ten would suffice. (This will definitely have to go then) But a book shouldn't be finished when there's nothing left to add; it should be finished when there's nothing left to take away. (I didn't take anything away from this so it gets axed too) Too many passages just plain didn't add to the story. All they did was add to the word count. (I felt this just added to the word count too)

Now, I get leery when I start reading really verbose books. I always get the sneaking suspicion that it's written that way to cover up for some lack of something in the rest of the story. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, in Tigana, all those words were just to water the story down. I think I liked, or at least understood, most of the characters. I'm not certain, though, because their personalities got crushed under the weight of the words. (I feel your meaning here was also crushed under the weight of words so this has to go)

I read because I want my imagination captured, nurtured, and left enriched, and I can honestly say that Tigana managed this. Rarely, however, there books that accomplish this so gracefully that I will happily read them again. But after fighting the writing to stay caught in the plot, I have to say that this was not such a book.

So, did you find the amount of words saddening at times? Did you ever feel like the narrator was a rambling, slightly senile old man (had it turned out that the story was being told by Scelto many years later, I would have applauded)? Does the irony of my writing so much to complain about verbosity amuse you half as much as it does me? I doubt it, personally.


Oddly enough. I prefer it the way you had it originally.


Martin (martinc36au) | 79 comments Yes, it is wordy (GGK is a poet as well), but I still enjoyed this book. This would have been the 3rd reading for me since it was published.

A much tighter single book story from Guy Gavriel Kay is A Song for Arbonne. His other books have similar 'word' issues (that said, I love the Fionavar Tapestry), but 'Song' not so much.


Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments Again, as mentioned in another thread, you could just have every single word be meaningful and never once discuss how a butterfly flies over a stream next to the castle where inside there is a maid cleaning the room of the character's dieing mother who was once a choir singer....

Then again, why read at all... I find all those words to be pointless...

In fact....


message 5: by Sky (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments Ah, Malazan... another set of books that felt the need to hide a great story in a sea of words...

David Sven wrote: "I've therefore taken it upon myself to edit your post down to a minimum."

Touché. There is also a place for verbosity (hint: it's the internet... I'm bad at giving hints). However, I think some paraphrasing of this conversation may be in order. You know, to clarify the meaning and give it a more lasting impression. And speaking of poets...

Sky wrote:
Tigana was good, and I'm glad that I read it,
But I feel the writing could use a good edit.


Then, in response...

David Sven wrote:
I've taken your post and turned it around
To imply that your judgement isn't too sound.


To which...

Martin replied:
It seems I agree, what you said is quite true.
Have you read his other stuff? It's wordy too.



P. Aaron Potter (paaronpotter) | 585 comments ,I concur with Sky (though that was a witty editorial skewering, David). Unlike, say, Ulysses, the point of the novel was not the language itself...and unlike, say, Great Expectations, it wasn't simply an attempt to gussy up a thin plot. Tigana could have - should have - stood on its own as a thoughtful fantasy. I've no idea why it was so over-written. The characters are good, and sometimes excellent. Why spend so very much time telling, rather than showing, their internal worlds? Clumsy.


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments @Sky - Ha Ha! Brilliant! (apologies for excessive use of exclamation marks!)


message 8: by Vance (new) - added it

Vance | 362 comments I think this is simply a matter of prefering one writing style over another, rather than an example of violating an objectively correct style. One persons "wordy" is another's "rich and poetic". I, for one, love the Silmarillion, for example.

What is ironic, however, is that I believed that my own taste had changed and I no longer had the patience for this style. But I fully enjoyed letting the flowing descriptions wash over me.

Not surprisingly, A Song for Arbonne was my least favorite of the three Kay books I have read.


message 9: by Sky (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments Vance wrote: "I think this is simply a matter of prefering one writing style over another, rather than an example of violating an objectively correct style."

I agree with you absolutely. Different strokes for different folks (I prefer the Australian crawl stroke).

Tolkien used to rank up with my favorite authors, but I picked up the Silmarillion years after reading LotR (more specifically, after reading A Game of Thrones), and it took a year and a half to finally finish. Am I glad I read it? Yes, if only for the bragging rights. Would I ever read it again? No, thank you, I like my eyes blood free.

In the same (if slightly less dramatic) way, I enjoyed Tigana, thought the story was well crafted, and will happily mount it on my trophy wall, never to be read again.

I also like steak. Lots and lots of steak. I am aware, however, that some people may not share my views on steak. And that's fine too. But I'm still going to eat my steak. And if you give me tofu, I'll probably complain.


Michael (michaelbetts) Wonderful, Sky. Perhaps all of our book discussions should be performed in rhyme.


Katrina | 32 comments I actually laughed out loud at David's post and then laughed harder at Sky's poetic comeback. (Most of the time "lol" isn't true, strictly speaking.)

I felt the same way about the writing style of Tigana so I found an audio version. To me, wordy books are much more enjoyable in a spoken format. I'm able to stop being annoyed or bored by the actual writing and just let the story roll over me.

I love audiobooks because I can listen to them while I commute. I have a part time job where I work alone, don't see anyone and don't need to use my brain, so there is a lot of listening time built in there as well. I'm a little bit worried about missing things, but I don't think it is an issue.


Katrina | 32 comments ^ I sound like I sell audiobooks. : /


message 13: by David Sven (last edited Jun 08, 2012 04:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments And now a word from Kruppe on the matter, for such things matter to Kruppe who has temporarily left the pages of Toll the Hounds and upon wandering the warren of goodreads, sees our current thread as an inviting invitation, and so invited invites himself in to say -

Quote
'Sad truth,' Kruppe said - his audience of none sighing in agreement - 'that a tendency towards verbal excess can so defeat the precision of meaning. That intent can be so well disguised in majestic plethora of nuance, of rhythm both serious and mocking, of this penchant for self-referential slyness, that the unwitting simply skip on past - imagining their time to be so precious, imagining themselves above all maner of conviction, save that of their own witty perfection. Sigh and sigh again . . "


Sorry, I just read this from Kruppe and had to get it down. Its Steven Erikson's way of flipping the bird to the critics who accuse him of being in need of a good editor.

For all his words, Kay still flows of the page for me - but Erikson can give me a serious headache (especially after 1400 pages).
The irony being that Steve Erikson's excess word count works well for explosive action - I don't know why - maybe its a kind of slow mo?


message 14: by Sky (last edited Jun 08, 2012 10:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments David Sven wrote: "And now a word from Kruppe on the matter..."

For all his wisdom, Kruppe fails to see
Two sides unto this there must be
On one, the reader, made all too bored
By verbose prose and words untoward
Opposed, the author, who must convey
His story in the proper way

And so the reader is asked to trust
The author penned just what he must
In turn, the author must also show
His tale is one you'll want to know
And only then should a reader wade
Through all the words that are displayed


In the end, the decision to read is based on a reader's trust of an author. That trust may be bolstered or torn down by first hand experience, reviews, word of mouth, or any myriad other ways of getting information. As an author myself, I am always flattered and humbled when someone extends enough trust to read what I've written. I trusted Kay enough to read every word of Tigana.

The decision to re-read a book, however, is based on love. I can honestly say that I did not love Tigana enough to read it again, and the reasons are what I've given here.


message 15: by P. Aaron (last edited Jun 08, 2012 02:58PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

P. Aaron Potter (paaronpotter) | 585 comments The reasons for an author's choices
(genre, length, rhetoric, voices)
lie obscured behind the writing.
Why then all this forum fighting?

Some declare a book's "too long,"
while others find there's nothing wrong.
This book's boring? That one terse?
A third's too prolix? A fourth is worse?

Each reader's sure that their opinion
Must, at last, achieve dominion.
Thus, more ink is spilled in rages
On forums than ever touched books' pages.

And yet staunch Sky stays undefeated:
Though he enjoyed, he won't re-read it.


message 16: by Karen (last edited Jun 08, 2012 12:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karen | 29 comments Holy carp but I love you clever people! /mostlyuselesscomment


message 17: by Tamahome (new) - added it

Tamahome | 6255 comments I hear Under Heaven has a lot of poetry.


message 18: by Scott (new) - added it

Scott Tigana is a good book, but not one of Kay's best. If you read his books in order of them being written, you can notice how the verbosity of them is pared down. He still adds in the divergent details and off shooting stories of side characters, but never as awkwardly as in Tigana.


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments @Sky, Aaron - Lol - A pleasure reading your re readable poetry. And I think Kruppe(Steven Erikson) should heed well your words . . . Kruppe? Where are you?

It appears Kruppe has left the building, no doubt with satisfying self-satisfaction as Kruppe is wont to do at times.

@Sky - I do understand the way you feel about Tigana as I feel the same about Steven Erikson's Malazan. Even though I know I would pick up so much more of the story going back and re reading the series when I'm done - I don't think I could stomach it. 3 books to go and I'm in it as much for the 100% achievement trophy as I am for Kruppe's company.


message 20: by Sky (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments I'm glad we all can understand
Each other's point of view
While 'pon our ideals we stand
So sir, I salute you

I was impressed by Mr. Kay
For though I might complain
Tigana's more than just okay
Despite the wordy pain

I almost wish it had been bland
Filled up with boring plot
I could dismiss it out of hand
And lem without a thought

Alas, it seems I grew to care
Enough to write this post
Though I could wish for finer fare
It was better than most


message 21: by Tom, Supreme Laser (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Merritt (tommerritt) | 1151 comments Mod
I love every one of you. You make me proud to be a member.


message 22: by Tamahome (new) - added it

Tamahome | 6255 comments John Scalzi is definitely the opposite of wordy.


Melissa | 65 comments I said the same thing in another thread. I felt the novel was too "wordy" and I did end up skimming through the last third or so of the book. I also saw the similarity to the style of the Silmarillion. The story was interesting enough, but it just took too long to weed through it.


Charles (CAndrews) | 60 comments Sky wrote: "I almost wish it had been bland
Filled up with boring plot
I could dismiss it out of hand
And lem without a thought"


I don't know how you pronounce it, but the way I do, "plot" doesn't rhyme with "thought"!


I find it interesting that a lot of people complain about the wordiness of books. To my mind, Tigana is written in the way that books used to be written; with a fair amount of description.

If I go to a town that I would describe as having character, it would be in the little nuances that that character appears. When reading a book, I want to read those as it helps me to "see" the place that the author is imagining.

Yes, a certain weight of words can negatively impact a book. Great Expectations had too much. Tigana, I thought, was about right. But then it could be that I am used to, and enjoy, reading that sort of book.

The only thing that niggled me about the writing in Tigana was that Kay uses extended subordinate clauses so some bits I had to reread paying attention to where the commas were.

I really enjoyed the book, though, and would certainly reread it.


message 25: by Sky (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments Charles wrote: "The only thing that niggled me about the writing in Tigana was that Kay uses extended subordinate clauses so some bits I had to reread paying attention to where the commas were."

Yes! This was it! You have found my point precisely!
I expect a book to be written more nicely
Now, I'm a careful reader, on this I take pride
I attend to each word, and take full thoughts in stride

Tigana forced me to re-read entire phrases
To ponder the meaning from Kay's written mazes
And not just once or twice! This happened quite often
Enough so my resolve to read it would soften

While we're on the topic, it too deserves mention
That eight paragraphs aside will kill the tension
All in all, it sounded like a rambling old man
Was telling me this tale without much of a plan
At each exciting point he was wont to wander
And all the momentum most skillfully squander

Charles wrote: I don't know how you pronounce it, but the way I do, "plot" doesn't rhyme with "thought"!"

As for plot and thought, I find they both rhyme with not
Also aught, fraught and draught, naught, taut, caught, bought and trot


Charles (CAndrews) | 60 comments Sky wrote: "Charles wrote: I don't know how you pronounce it, but the way I do, "plot" doesn't rhyme with "thought"!"

As for plot and thought, I find they both rhyme with not
Also aught, fraught and draught, naught, taut, caught, bought and trot"


Interesting. Of that list, only trot rhymes with not for me. I say the "augh" and "ough" as awe instead of o.


message 27: by Tamahome (new) - added it

Tamahome | 6255 comments All posts from now on should be in iambic pentameter.


P. Aaron Potter (paaronpotter) | 585 comments Yet, given concerns
With 'wordiness,' perhaps posts
Should be in haiku.


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments P. Aaron wrote: "Yet, given concerns
With 'wordiness,' perhaps posts
Should be in haiku."


I think it should be comic strips from you Aaron. They are most awesome.


message 30: by Tamahome (last edited Jun 09, 2012 04:42PM) (new) - added it

Tamahome | 6255 comments There once was a man from Alperti
who thought Guy Gavriel was too wordy
he read a couple chapters
got distracted by velocirapters
so watched Jurrasic Park with Laura Derny


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2858 comments Fantasy novels
Turn to weighty paperweights
On my end table

While science fiction
Barely grazes my fingers
That I lick it from.

(Or something)


Dustin (dustincorreale) Kay was an author from Nantucket
His prose was so layered you could shuck it
some say that "it's fine"
some "it crossed the line"
But me? I just say who cares


message 33: by Vance (new) - added it

Vance | 362 comments Dustin, that made me laugh. :0)


message 34: by Tamahome (new) - added it

Tamahome | 6255 comments *admires Jenny's haiku*


P. Aaron Potter (paaronpotter) | 585 comments I yield. Dustin wins the thread.


message 36: by Chaz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chaz | 32 comments My problem is specifically with his structuring of sentences that seem clever on the surface but which struggle to communicate clearly.

Some examples:

Third paragraph of Ch 1: And impiety had never been a thing from which Sandre d'Astibar, even in the days of his power, had shied away.

The whole of the sixth paragraph of Ch 1 in one sentence: Perhaps because of this, and certainly because he tended to be cautious and circumspect in all his ways, Alberico, who held four of the nine provinces in and iron grip and was vying with Brandin of Ygrath for the ninth, acted with a precise regard for protocol.

The eighth paragraph of Ch 1, only two sentences: In The Paelion, the khav room where the wittier sort were gathering that season, it was cynically observed that the Tyrant would have been more likely to send a company of his own Barbadian mercenarues - not just a single message-bearer - were the living Sandreni not such a feckless lot. Before the appreciative, eye-to-who-might-be-listening ripple of amusement at tha had quite died away, one itinerant musician - there were scores of them in Astibar that week - had offered to wager all he might earn in the three days to come, that from the island of Chiara would arrive condolences in verse before the Festival was over.


Come on GGK, learn to use a full stop. They are your friends and would improve your writing no end if only you'd just let them join in. I too ended up enjoying this book but it was despite the overly laboured writing style.


message 37: by Tamahome (new) - added it

Tamahome | 6255 comments Should we send him Shrunk & White's Elements of Style?


Scott Lee | 9 comments Chaz wrote: "My problem is specifically with his structuring of sentences that seem clever on the surface but which struggle to communicate clearly.

Some examples:

Third paragraph of Ch 1: And impiety had..."


I don't think he's trying to be clever. His style just isn't in fashion these days. He reads, to me, like a 19th century novelist - a throwback to the days when a writer could use a semi-colon without being excoriated. The sentences themselves are quite clear to me.


message 39: by Tamahome (new) - added it

Tamahome | 6255 comments I commonly use a semi-colon to fix a comma splice; don't you see?


message 40: by Scott (last edited Jun 22, 2012 09:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Scott Lee | 9 comments Don't get me started on comma splices. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_sp...

The British author Lynne Truss[9] observes: "so many highly respected writers observe the splice comma that a rather unfair rule emerges on this one: only do it if you're famous."

I love a good, poetic comma splice. Pity they're out of fashion.


message 41: by Tamahome (new) - added it

Tamahome | 6255 comments I read an arc of China Mountain Zhang at a library. It was all comma splices.


message 42: by Sky (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments Scott wrote: " The sentences themselves are quite clear to me."

While the thoughts are all clear, I think you'll agree
Each sentence takes a winding path
And that this approach could quite easily drive
Readers to frothing, righteous wrath

But the prose aside, I would like to ask you,
How often did you have the thought,
"All right, Kay, we get it, you have made your point,
Now kindly get back to the plot"?


Scott Lee | 9 comments Kay's prose, I'll admit, can be convolute,
Nesting clause within clause (within clause).
But I think we quite differ in viewing this style
As some sort of error or flaw.

The style, though ornate, is quite lucid,
Evoking the world as a whole.
The emphasis lies not so much in the ending.
The journey itself is the goal.


message 44: by Vance (new) - added it

Vance | 362 comments Scott, that is perfect. Agree entirely.

Sky, when the path is beautiful, I don't mind when it winds. There is a reason some travel maps contain "the scenic route". :0)


message 45: by Sky (last edited Jun 22, 2012 12:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments A journey is fine, and to each his own style;
I'd hardly dare dictate the norm.
Describing the world once or twice makes me smile.
Doing it eight times is bad form.

Vance, I have no quarrel with the scenic route;
I liked Kay's descriptions just fine.
But each step was belabored, drawn painfully out,
And I felt that he had crossed a line.

At least thrice a chapter, I'd sigh and I'd think,
"I got it the first time. Move on."
Yet back into eloquent prose Kay would sink,
Leaving me feeling put upon.


message 46: by Sky (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments I would also say your words ring very true
It was a scenic route book, indeed
But even in life, I'll enjoy the trip once
And from then on place value in speed

Now, perhaps you're of a more enlightened sort
To whom lack of art sense is a sin
Alas, though there are roads I'll walk more than once
I won't be taking this trip again


message 47: by Vance (new) - added it

Vance | 362 comments Bravo, Sky!


David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Sky, I'm finding your poems very scenic indeed. I got your point on the first one but I loved reading all eight ;).
Bravo from me too!


Heather | 29 comments For me, all the description and tangent-tracing was in keeping with the theme. In a book so much about place and memory, especially lost place and memory, it made sense for GKK dwell on these things as he told the tale.


message 50: by Simmy (last edited Jun 23, 2012 01:18AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Simmy Sims | 6 comments Language is a tool, not an end in itself. That said, an author need not use this tool only to advance the plot. The journey is the destination - at least in the sense that we read not to be finished, but to experience the finishing. So, language should not only advance the plot, but make the experience of the plot more meaningful and enjoyable. As we have seen, tastes differ as to what is meaningful and enjoyable.

Personally, I have read books where the author's use of language has really enhanced the experience, and I have read otherwise good books whose language has detracted from my enjoyment. Tigana falls into the latter category. For me, the nadir was midway through Chapter 4, in the midst of what should have been the book's first dramatic scene. Instead, the language struck me as needlessly melodramatic and a little pompous. I eventually dealt with the problem by treating the author's style as a deliberate comment upon the Palm's melodramatic worldview. In the end, I enjoyed the book despite my issues with its language.

Some people may have more issues with an author's use of description due to the way they think. I am a verbal thinker rather than a visual one (I think in words, not images), and visually evocative description usually leaves me cold. The one notable exception was Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series. Similarly, I am not a fan of most poetry (excepting epic poems, which actually have plots).

Edit: Yes, I appreciate the irony of complaining about an author's pompous writing when my own style could be described similarly.


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