Saturday 2 January 2010

Quick Book: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Much as I hate to disappoint - and at such an early juncture - my first experience of the great Guy Gavriel Kay's pseudo-historical fantasy fiction has been decidedly lacking in the wanton contrariness The Speculative Scotsman will count as its Mighty White bread and butter. Reader, truly: I loved this book. Almost without reservation, I loved Tigana.

After months spent searching in earnest for the next great fiction to fall for, a succession of weeks idled away in Retribution Falls and outright wasted Under the Dome that Stephen King would have us believe he spent three decades thinking about, Guy Gavriel Kay's sweeping single-volume epic proved to be a literary revelation. So desperate was I to find the next thing, in fact, that I had resorted to that most troublesome of recommendation machines: Amazon.

Browsing through some of the more notable fantasies forthcoming in 2010, the wonderful cover of Kay's next novel caught my eye, and so began a relentless trawl through the surprisingly sparse selection of reader reviews to find the best appetiser for this author with which to whet my appetite.

I'd heard the name bandied about before, of course, but it took six degrees of seperation from a China Mieville listing readers of The Speculative Scotsman will be hearing about shortly to point me towards the great towers of lost Tigana.

It was, yes, the obvious choice, but moreover, it proved to be the right one. Tigana, perhaps more than any other novel I've read in the last decade, took such a tight hold of this reader's misbegotten old heart with its prose and its poetry, its people and its places, that I can offer only the highest recommendation to anyone as yet on the fence about Guy Gavriel Kay.

Perversely, perhaps, I'd honestly rather enjoy standing apart from what seems to be the collection opinion of the entire circle of speculative resources. At once to my dismay and my delight, however, I can only confirm the consensus: Tigana is a masterpiece.

I treasured the last part of the novel in a fashion I'm not at all used at my age, cartwheeling crazily between savouring every remaining word to gobbling them all up at once. There are, of course, more Guy Gavriel Kay books to be had, and though a predictably anal attack of OCD means I that can't find matching spines of his entire back catalogue, I know myself well enough to realise that in all likelihood, however much more of this author I read, my first taste of the incredible new flavour of fantasy fiction he represents to me will very likely be my favourite, as The Scar was with my ongoing China Mieville affair. His fiction, I should say. Although he is a rather handsome man.

In any case, that should be enough burbling for now. Please, do stay tuned to The Speculative Scotsman for a full review of Tigana later in the week.


  1. I loved this book, too!
    Also, A Song for Arbonne. Great stuff.

    Nice blog -- welcome.

  2. Many thanks, Kat - I mean to stay a while.

    Certainly TSS will be around long enough that I should have the chance to hit on the other GGK books I bought after the glory of Tigana: A Song for Arbonne and Ysabael. Can't quite wait.