Friday, July 20, 2012

The Bookworm : tigana by guy gavriel kay

Once upon a time, when I was still in high school, my high school librarian, understanding my insatiable appetite for fantasy novels, and having just managed my way through Game of Thrones, recommended for me to try Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. It helped too that I read his Fionavar Tapestry trilogy only a while previous.

I couldn't do it.

Today I couldn't tell you exactly why I felt this way, but the introduction simply never hooked me in proper, like George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind all managed to do for me around this time.

So it has been sitting on my "to-read" list for a long, long time. I even eventually bought a copy of the book at a second-hand book sale in order to have it close at hand if I ever decide to actually try it again.

But still, even when it was there, I forgot about it.

Until a few weeks back, watching Swords and Lasers on the Geek and Sundry YouTube site. They had selected Tigana as their "book of the month" for June (currently, Leviathan Wakes is this month's book).

But that wasn't what caught my attention and had me decide to try to pick up the book once more.

They revealed that BestFantasyBooks.Com listed it as the #1 stand-alone fantasy book out there.

Why did this matter to me? Because BestFantasyBooks.Com was the site that led me to Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind book. And for that I will be forever grateful, but also forever will defer to its knowledge on the subject of good fantasy.

So I decided to make it my "travel book" (a book I travel around with and generally make a mild mess of due to the nature of my bag, books and travel arrangements) and try again last week.

300 pages later, I am honestly having a difficult time putting it down. To the point that my "read at home" book, Terry Brook's Running With Demons is being rather unjustly neglected.

Tigana's premise that drives the novel and draws the characters together, a word, a place and a name that's been forbidden and forgotten by sorcerous means and the people that cannot forget it is a thing of beauty. There is a real sense of loss and a inward reflection on how ultimately, one's greatest fear is to be forgotten, which is ultimately what is happening to a whole generation of people.

The characters are realistic, vivid and charismatic in the reader discovering who they are and what drives them. It unravels slowly, but organically, surprising you in places and drawing you further into the intrigue.

This is the first time since The Name of the Wind as well that I have also basically refused to read up on any Wikipedia summaries or anything that can account for any sort of spoilers out of sheer frustration of the novel's pace. I want to be surprised and discover what happens in this book on my own truly.

And as I kept reading, I understood why I couldn't handle it in high school.

Tigana was far too mature of a fantasy book for me to understand its art or its subtlety.

Yes I managed to happily devour The Lord of the Rings and the first of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books with relative ease, all three being fairly mature books in its own right. But The Lord of the Rings had the benefit of a movie to help encourage me along and Game of Thrones... well it was full of fighting, brawny action from beginning to end and allowed for me to ignore all the politicking in between.

Clash of Kings however involved a seven year odyssey to manage to finally read and enjoy, once I was able to appreciate its subtlety.

I couldn't handle a subtle message once upon a time because it flew over my head. And without such understanding, the story lost meaning and as such, becomes meaningless, leading me to give up on the book because I perceived nothing there that was compelling or made sense. There was nothing there to keep me wanting to see what happened next.

That's no longer the case now. And I'm glad for it because I can definitely see now why it's such a highly acclaimed book. Now hopefully this will help me get through Sailing to Sarantium on a later date.

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