Tigana was published in 1990. It was hailed by Publisher’s Weekly as a “brilliant and complex portrayal of good and evil” and by USA Today as a “boldly complex, intelligently articulated romance.” It was nominated for the 1991 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and the 1991 World Fantasy Award, and it won the 1991 Aurora Award. Click here for reviews of Tigana, and don’t forget to check out the different cover art that has been used for the book, from Canada to Russia. One of my favourite GGK covers is the Swedish Tigana. I love the ghostly towers leading up to the name – so redolent of the emotions and ideas of the book.
Tigana is set in the ‘Peninsula of the Palm’ a land evocative of Italy, in a world with two moons. For a brief background to the Italian history that inspired the setting of the book, click here. Two sorcerors, one a petty lordling from Barbadior, the other the king of Ygrath, have come to the Peninsula from overseas, intent on conquest. Brandin, King of Ygrath, wants to carve out a realm for his beloved younger son, Stevan. Having conquered three of the nine provinces of the Palm, he sends Stevan to subjugate the next province whilst he faces Alberico, the other conqueror. Stevan is killed in battle by the people of that last province. Brandin, in bitterest grief, and in revenge against the people who killed his son, lays a curse on that province. After sweeping down and destroying the remnants of their army, burning their books and destroying their architecture and statuary, he makes it so that no one not born in that province can even hear its name. Tigana is a story of the struggle for identity and freedom in the face of brutal oppression. Click through to read a passage from Tigana.
GGK wrote a new afterword for the publication of a tenth anniversary edition of Tigana, in which he discusses the ideas that led him to write the book: “Tigana is in good part a novel about memory: the necessity of it, in cultural terms, and the dangers that come when it is too intense. Scelto’s decision at the end of the novel is a reflection of that, and so is the George Seferis passage that served as one of my epigraphs. So, accepting that this is precarious terrain – an author’s memories of a book about remembering – what does that imply, more than a decade after the writing?” Click through here to read the afterword.
Exclusively for the site, GGK has put together a bibliography in which he lists and describes the books he found the most helpful with his research for the countries and periods that inspired his work. Click here for a bibliography of the books GGK used to research Tigana.
For a little light relief, GGK and I had a little fun with altavista’s translation feature. We used it to translate a German review of Tigana into English. The translating mechanism is idiosyncratic, to say the least. For those of you who know the book well, this altavista review is hilarious! Enjoy!
Most of the interviews featured on the site discuss Tigana, although none focus on it hugely. Check out Andrew Adams’ interview for a discussion of what GGK meant by the last sentence of the book, and the interview for the Marion Zimmer Bradley Fantasy Magazine discusses what it meant for GGK to move from fantasy towards history in Tigana.
We have two professional academic papers on the site which examine Tigana, both by Dr. Janeen Webb of the Australian Catholic University. The first is titled Myth and the New High Fantasy: Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana, concentrating on Tigana alone. The second compares and contrasts Tigana with A Song for Arbonne, and is titled: Post-Romantic Romance: Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana and A Song for Arbonne.
We also have a student paper on the site that focuses on Tigana. Stephen Wark wrote Royal Ascent: the romance of monarchy in Yvain, The Hobbit, and Tigana for part of an M.A. course.