Tigana… The forgotten name of a forgotten kingdom. But this kingdom still existed not so many years ago. Is human memory so fragile? Probably not. Not in these kind of matters. Nevertheless nobody knows anything at all about Tigana. Strange? Even stranger is the fact that no one can hear the name, much less pronounce it. No one… except those who were deprived of their kingdom – the forgotten Tigana.
I must admit that this book caught my attention when, one cloudy day, I was strolling through one of Warsaw’s hypermarkets. It looked like nothing special, just another book amongst dozens of similar ones. Similar, but interesting? So I examined my new candidate for a moment of unforgettable distraction more carefully. A quick look at the cover allowed me to see the words “World Bestseller”. Having been taught by experience that editors’ automatic claims should not be trusted blindly, I scratched my head. I glanced at the other books. Nothing interesting. OK, I thought, I’ll risk it, I’ve nothing to lose. So I risked it.
Tigana is quite a strange novel. Of course, it is absolutely fantasy, but not typically so. Why? Well, perhaps the author’s different cultural outlook (an Italian, as far as I know, though I could be mistaken; if so please forgive me) helped create a world slightly different from so many others, a world rich in history, a world of men, not elves, dwarves, and goblins. A world more féerique (fairy?) than real. Is that bad? I believe that such a difference, as long as it is used well, has a good chance to give an above average result. Guy Gavriel Kay, who once helped Christopher Tolkien in editing out his father’s manuscripts, mixes a little of Tolkien’s style of describing people and places with his own, somewhat more lively style. It really works out well, and it is a plus. A big one.
What is a book without a captivating, intriguing plot, without that depth which can completely absorb the reader? Nothing else than an ordinary paperback, barely good enough to be read on a train or bus (considering the quality of our roads, I recommend the former… you read better). There are of course exceptions to this rule, but not many. Happily, it is not the case with Tigana, for it would be a shame to waste such an idea. By the way – the theme of a lost and forgotten kingdom is probably somewhat less used (though still to be found quite often) than the ‘worn down to the bone’ theme of Evil hanging over the world, and which can be defeated only by The One (eventually The One (female gender) or Group of Chosen Ones). In Tigana the combat of good versus evil does not appear as such. Everything evolves around human feelings – love, anger, hate. I liked that very much.
How does it read? In one word: well. No: very well, for sometimes you can get stuck in some more twisted sentence or you have to stop to reflect on the dissertations of some character. As a quite ambitious novel, Tigana requires a bit of intelligence and sharpness from the reader, because you can get lost (tested on a friend J). All in all, after finishing the book, besides the feelings provoked during reading and sill spinning somewhere in your head, another thing remains. Something hidden and shy. Satisfaction.