Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
Tigana. I should despise this book. Its exposition borders on being info-dumps on a regular basis, the subtleties of “show, don’t tell” seem lost to the author, and the book has a dependency on fate that borders on causing deus ex machina. All three of those individually are more than capable of damning a book. The last one in particular is one of my pet peeves. If anything can make me abhor a book, it’s that.
Tigana. I really, really like this book.
This book is fantasy incarnate—down to the sentence structure and word choice. As I’ve already stated, it does a lot of things that a lot of people (for good reason) hate the entire fantasy genre for. However, it manages to pull off those things so wonderfully that the work borders on genius. This book has enough information and plot development for an entire series, and never suffers from condensing that amount of information into a single work.
The characters alone are fantastic. It has the good old evil-overlord-with-super-
The plot takes a while to show up (nothing particularly interesting in terms of plot-based conflict happens until about 50 pages into the book). However, once it does it feels obligated (with a few noteworthy exceptions, one of which still annoys me because it had no plot relevance whatsoever) to continue increasing its pace. The climax of the book was perfect, and there was almost no need to wind things down afterwards because all of that got taken care of before the climax. Thus, the climax hits like a sledgehammer.
And, when it comes down to it, the book works. It’s not perfect, but it’s good.
More than that, the quality of this book speaks volumes about the author. He embraced clichés and techniques that have a reputation for killing books. Instead, they make his book unlike anything I’ve ever read. The book is pure, straight fantasy as it should be done. Think Ursula Le Guin, but with the effort going towards stereotypical fantasy instead of folktales. If there’s much higher praise to give a fantasy novel (aside from comparing it to Tolkien in a positive light), I don’t know what it would be.
- Patrick Johnson