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As I said when I started reading, this used to be one of my very favorite books, but I hadn't read it for a while. Was this the same book that I remembered? Mostly yes, though I had forgotten some pretty important things. I knew some things (the Dianora plotline, in which Dianora acts like she's going to do something meaningful but then never does) were not going to work that well for me this time, and I was right, but there were some surprises there. Dianora won me over near the end before losing me in her resolution. And I was surprised by how much I felt for one of the secondary characters, Erlein, at the expense of some of the main characters. So yes, perspective does change over time.

The other general thing I noticed as I was reading was that this book is a hard book to classify. On the one hand, it's clearly an epic fantasy. The quest is to restore the rightful king (prince), for one thing. But on the other hand, I have a hard time calling it epic fantasy because that makes me think of, oh, Robert Jordan (who I quit reading a long time ago) and his endless series, for example. There are good epic fantasies (I liked Sherwood Smith's Inda series recently) but even those aren't ideal as reading material for me because they jump around so much.

Tigana manages to have a wide scope without drowning in it. It tells the whole story, and it's concentrated and planned and the way it fits together is amazing. Kay has his reflective moments, more than a few of them, but part of what makes it so good is that everything he does or says really counts.
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This is the payoff, and it all works. All the strands fit together beautifully well. Whatever I thought about individual characters or plotlines or whatever, the ending works.

Spoilers )
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What is the price of blood? It's open to interpretation, but I think one possible interpretation is that the price of blood is the price of kinship. In this section, we meet Alessan's mother and see that she at least thinks she has paid a price -- and she's determined to make her son pay a price as well. We see the price that Brandin of Ygrath is willing to pay -- which includes separating himself from his family and kin. It might be stretching it, but I also think that you could say that the loyalty to each state (Tigana and Senzio most notably in this section) is a price of blood. The loyalty seems to be passed in the blood, since it's not a result of nurture in either Devin or Catriana, for example.

And it might also be the price of shedding blood, since there's some of that in this section too.

Spoilers )
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(Yeah, I'm way behind on this read-along; I'm afraid I'm not very good at reading part of a book at two week intervals. But I will catch up!)

The Ember Days happen in the fall and in the spring on the Palm; the title of this section refers not only to the time span it covers, but also, I think, to the embers of the rebellion that are being fanned to flame by the subtle actions of our very small band of rebels and their friends.

"It was too intense an action, harking back to the violence of the first year after he'd landed here," Alberico of Barbadior thinks at the beginning of this section. Things are changing in on the Palm, but this section is about action and reaction, about bravery and cowardice, about how people can live under tyranny and the very real cost of changing even a bad status quo.

Just about everything that happens in this section is about a cost to someone. Spoilers )
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You had to have known that there would be a price for what what you did, the musician Isolla of Ygrath said to Brandin of Ygrath in this section. Part II of Tigana is about choices and prices. The story also starts to get a lot more nuanced with this view from another side. In Part I, we saw why people might fail at their quest to overthrow the tyrants: they aren't good enough, their vision is not wide enough, betrayal from an unexpected source. Part II is about why someone might turn aside from the same quest, despite their very real losses and hatreds, and I think it also begins to question exactly how important that loss is.

Dianora's story progresses in fits and starts, interwoven with her past and her memories, and although there is one very important event in the present, on the whole I'd have to say very little actually happens in the present, but we find out a lot about the past.

spoilers )
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I know there are some people who don't like prologues just on general principles, and this prologue, especially when grouped with the next part, seems like just the sort of prologue that they don't like. It takes place quite a bit before the main story, the characters aren't immediately connected to the main story (though they will be connected eventually) and technically nothing happens except two guys talk about how they're going to die the next day (everything else we find out about in the prologue happens offstage).

On the other hand, the theme of the whole book is laid out very clearly. "We will be remembered," these two men say. More than that, it (and the title) establish Tigana as the focus of this book. After the prologue, it's not until page 99 of my edition that the name "Tigana" is mentioned again, when we find out that the name "Tigana" has been taken away by the strongest sort of sorcery.

Meanwhile, Spoilers )
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I'm joining a Tigana read-along which starts Wednesday. I'm excited; Tigana has been one of my favorite books for a very long time, and while I've never done a read-along before, it sounds like a fun thing to do.

I thought that as long as I was going to be posting about each part of the book in detail, I might as well talk a little about my history with the book and what I think about it before I start rereading.

I think I was high school when I read Tigana for the first time (but maybe junior high), and I remember exactly why I picked it up: because the title reminded me of tigers. Well, I'm sure I read the blurb as well, and I knew it wasn't actually about tigers, but that's why I picked it up. I read a lot faster back then, and without the influx of things that sound interesting that I pick up on the internet (this was before the internet for me) I picked up a lot of completely random books based on titles or authors or random factors like the cover design.

I don't remember what I thought about it specifically that very first time I read it, but I know I liked it because I read all the other books that were available at the time by Guy Gavriel Kay. Tigana remained my favorite.

In college, I listed it as my favorite book a couple of times for various things. I'm not sure that it actually was my very favorite book, but it was the most impressive favorite book that I had, and if you're actually listing a favorite book, it needs to be impressive, doesn't it?

I guess because it was more impressive than comfort reading, it's never been a book that I reread a whole lot, and I know I've been rereading a lot less in recent years (there seem to be more new books I want to read every year), and I know that I haven't reread it since I started tracking my reading in 2006. So it's been a while.

And yet I still remember a lot about it, very clearly. I remember Devin on a track from boy to man, with some very impressive and hard to live up to role models to look to. I remember Dianora, divided by her love of her country and her love of one man. I remember Brandin, who's the villain but who is sympathetic. I remember the other mage, Albersomeone, who really is a villain, and who really isn't sympathetic, but who has his reasons and goals as well. The Prince of Tigana. Alessan, who holds back from accomplishing an immediate goal the easier way so that he can do something greater. Sandre, who makes a sacrifice for someone else that he would never make for his own children. Avalle of the Towers, beauty lost. The riselka, representing uncertainty and choice. The nature of the magic of the palm.

My favorite moment in memory (although I also hated it for some time) involves Devin and a jump. Stupid and awesome at the same time.

This is a very epic book, and yet the characters and the world are very real. It probably could use a few more women characters, now that I look at that list (yeah, I left off Catriona, but that's because I don't remember if I love anything about her -- I left off Baird too, for the same reason).

I'm looking forward to finding out what I've forgotten.


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