With Tigana Guy Gavriel Kay sets a standard for fantasy literature. Review by Violet Kane

Book Cover
Tigana has a tad too much magic for my personal fantasy novel appetites, but that should make most fantasy fans smile.

I am known for disliking systems of magic that are too intertwined with the plot of story. But even I could not help but be touched by the overarching concept behind the sorcery of Tigana. In order to suppress potential rebellions within the kingdom he has conquered, a powerful sorcerer has used his powers to erase all memory of the obliterated kingdom from the minds of people. They cannot speak its name. If they heard the word, it registers as nonsensical to their ears. Histories have been replaced. Place names forgotten. Only the true heirs of Tigana and its prince can hear and comprehend the name. And then, only when another opens the door to it. The sorcerer has his faults, and the opposition has secrets of their own.

I read Tigana "post-Lions," which means I started with Lions of Al-Rassan and then read The Sarantine Mosaic. In these later works, Kay's focus has shifted more to the speculative historical and cultural elements than to the magical elements. As a result, Tigana had more magic than I had grown to expect from Kay. But by this point, you should realize that I am overly finicky. I prefer minimal magic, but who can quibble with the genius of Kay? His characters are, no surprise, exquisite. His story is beautifully drawn with both heart and despair. At this point, most fantasy fans should rightly ignore my fretting over magic and simply read the book.

Tigana is, quite frankly, an excellent introduction to Kay's work for traditional fantasy fans. Kay does not fail to create true fantasy literature.

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Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.