“You have lived in your dreams so long you’ve lost sight of the world.”
Erlein from Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Although I found Ysabel to be an enjoyable page-turner, I heard it was inferior to Guy Gavriel Kay’s other books so I was really looking forward to reading Tigana. I was not at all disappointed, since Tigana turned out to be one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year. It was beautifully written and emotionally powerful, filled with scenes that were so clear to me that I kept envisioning them long after I had finished the book.

Tigana is the story of a group of people from the nation of Tigana seeking to rectify the wrongs of the past. During a war between Tigana and Ygrath, the Prince of Tigana, Valentin, killed the son of Brandin of Ygrath, a powerful sorcerer attempting to conquer the entire land of the Five Palms, of which Tigana was a part. In retaliation, Brandin not only slaughtered the people of Tigana fighting against him in the war but cast a powerful spell removing the name of the land so that it could only be remembered and heard by the people who were born there. Once the people born in Tigana were dead, the name of Tigana would be lost forever.

While Valentin’s son is uniting the people of Tigana as well as other people who despise Brandin and the sorceror Alberico (who is also trying to conquer as much of the land of the Five Palms as possible), Dianora di Tigana masquerades as Dianora di Certando and allows herself to be captured as one of Brandin’s courtesans with the intent of killing him and restoring the name of her homeland. However, she finds her job growing more difficult as she finds herself falling in love with Brandin in spite of what he has done to her people.

Tigana is a tale about the danger of two extremes – the danger of remembering the past so clearly that one remains entrenched in it, unable to forget and move on, and the danger of forgetting about the reality of the past. It’s a story of love and being torn when you discover the world is not as black and white as once thought. It is one of those rare stories that shows both sides of the coin and reveals that there are consequences to actions and that one person’s triumph is another’s tragedy.

The characterization was masterful. At the beginning of the story, Brandin was portrayed as an evil bad guy, but once you saw him through Dianora’s eyes, you realize he’s only human and one who cares about the people around him so much that it overrules his better judgment at times. It takes some talent to make the reader go from despising a character to loving them, and these gray characters are my favorite kinds.

Some people may find Tigana to be a little too angst-filled and repetitive for their tastes. I freely admit it – I like some angst in my stories, but even I found the repetitiveness of the character’s thoughts a little much at times and wanted them to get on with the story. This was the only problem I had with Tigana, however.

Overall, Tigana was a spell-binding story that I still keep going back to even though it’s been almost a week since I finished it now.



I realized recently that I have only read three books this year that were released this year (The Name of the Wind, Ysabel, and The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadows). To remedy this situation, I recently ordered the following:

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch (#2 in the Gentleman Bastard sequence)
The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg (#1 in The Lighthouse Duology)

Hopefully later this year I’ll be able to get some more new releases. I’m looking forward to reading Acacia by David Anthony Durham and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie and hope to get at least those two this year.

So at some point I should get more reviews of newer books up here.

I finished Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore Sunday night so I’m hoping to get a review of that up here soon (unfortunately, work usually gets in the way of that during the week). I was pleasantly surprised by it – it was better than I was expecting it to be.

While I’m waiting for my Amazon order of 2007 releases to get here, I’m reading another older novel – Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.

As anybody who keeps up with my blog is sure to know, I think Carol Berg is a wonderful and very under-rated fantasy author. So I was very happy to see them do this interview with her on wotmania’s Other Fantasy board. Plus the interviewer asked posters to contribute questions, and it was exciting for me to see some of the questions I contributed actually get asked in the interview! I really enjoyed reading Carol’s responses. Check it out!

I don’t have any reviews this weekend, unfortunately. Currently I’m reading a historical fiction/adventure novel called Birds of Prey by Wilbur Smith, so I won’t be reviewing that one since this is a speculative fiction site. After that, I’ll probably read either Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay or Pandora’s Star by Peter Hamilton, unless my copy of Red Seas Under Red Skies, the newest Gentleman Bastard book by Scott Lynch, is here by then, of course! Red Seas Under Red Skies is out in the United States August 1, so the wait for that is almost over. I’m going to order at least one more book off my wish list with it, perhaps Children of Hurin. Too many books, too little money (and time).

Subterranean Press announced today that they will be releasing a limited edition version of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. The limited edition copy is $150 and the lettered edition is $500.

One of my favorite anime series is The Twelve Kingdoms, which is unfortunately a series that never tied up all the loose ends. After I watched it, I was disappointed to find out the novels the anime was based on had not been translated into English so I could read the series (even though the books are also incomplete – the anime is only supposed to only cover events in the first four books out of seven that are currently out, though). Earlier this year Tokyopop released Sea of Shadows, the first novel in the Twelve Kingdoms series by Fuyumi Ono, and my fiance was nice enough to get it for me for my birthday this year. I heard that Tokyopop plans to release one Twelve Kingdoms novel a year, and the next, Sea of Wind, is supposed to be out next March.

Sea of Shadows is a young adult novel which contains rather simplistic writing. The story is at times a little slow, but at the end it was getting much more interesting (which didn’t surprise me since the anime also started out a little slow and got interesting around the same point in the story the book did). There is a lot of somewhat repetitive self reflectiveness (some might call it whining) contained in the pages of this book – I personally don’t mind reading about a character’s thoughts, but in this book the repetitiveness did annoy me a little at times. Everything was spelled out for the reader pretty clearly, but then, it is a young adult book. The story itself, however, is quite charming and I did enjoy reading a fantasy book that used Chinese mythology instead of the generic Western fantasy elements that are prevalent in a lot of the fantasy books available in America.

Sixteen year old Yoko Nakajima is essentially a goody-two-shoes who tries to please everybody. She gets along with her classmates, teachers, and parents and always does her homework. One day at school, a man Yoko has never seen before appears and tells her that her life depends on accepting his allegiance. Not knowing what to do with the chaos caused by his arrival and the strange creatures with him, Yoko agrees and ends up leaving with him. This man, called Keiki, takes Yoko to another world via a powerful shoku, a storm which allows people to cross over from Japan into the world of Twelve Kingdoms. Here, Keiki and Yoko are separated and Yoko must find her way in a strange new world on her own.

As a kaikyaku (a person from Japan who has been brought to the Twelve Kingdoms through a shoku), Yoko soon finds she is an outcast since she is seen as a bad omen. Chased by the authorities and demons, she does not know what to do and is somewhat naive when the occasional person shows her kindness. After being taken advantage of a few times, Yoko becomes quite bitter and is afraid to trust anyone. All she knows is she must find Keiki and find out what is going on.

I absolutely love the mythology in the world of the Twelve Kingdoms – the link between the king and his kirin (a benevolent creature who chooses the king and then acts as his advisor) and the balance between the perfect kirin and the imperfect king, the different creatures, babies that grow on trees and can be part beast/part human. Learning about the new world Yoko has entered was the most fun part of the book for me.

At first, Yoko is a bit annoying as a character since she does become very suspicious and a bit whiny. She develops throughout the book, though, and at the end I rather like her, particularly since I can relate to her original naivete and being a “good girl” who never wants to let anyone down. Reminds me of myself at that age, other than being dropped into the middle of a strange world and chased by demons, of course!

Sea of Shadows could be a little repetitive at times, but it was definitely hard to put down later and I suspect the next books will get even more interesting. It was a charming, enjoyable book, particularly when delving into the world of the Twelve Kingdoms.



I’m behind on my reviews. I finished Thud! and Sea of Shadows and haven’t yet reviewed either of them. I have a good excuse, though – I’ve been sick all week (and still am). Blech.

So anyway, on to the first book I haven’t reviewed, which is Thud! by Terry Pratchett and the only Discworld book I hadn’t yet read (at least until the next one comes out this fall).

Thud! is another Discworld book about Sam Vimes and the rest of the City Watch. Tension is everywhere in Ankh-Morpork as the anniversary of the Battle of Koom Valley, a war between the trolls and the dwarfs, approaches. A prominent dwarf is found dead with a club beside him and a famous painting depicting the Battle of Koom Valley disappears from the museum. It’s up to the Watch, with a bit of help from “Mr. Shine” (who turns out to be a troll king and not, in fact, a cleaning product), to discover what is going on and the truth nobody wants to hear about what actually happened at Koom Valley.

As has been the case with the last few Discworld books, there is a bit more of a serious note to Thud!. It’s certainly not all seriousness, though, as becomes apparent by such touches as the artist of the stolen painting being afraid of a chicken he hears in his head. Another humorous addition is the Gooseberry dis-organizer with Bluenose technology that Sybil gave Vimes, which is reminiscent of the palm pilot except this one is powered by a little talking imp.

It’s always fun to see how Pratchett takes a fantasy world and illustrates our modern world through it. The “affirmative action” in the Watch that results in the hiring of dwarfs, trolls, a werewolf, golems, and in this book, a vampire always keeps things interesting as all these different species try to get along. Different religions and superstitions are wonderfully illustrated through these various creatures. I also liked the way he poked fun at art and artists and what makes a piece of work actual tasteful art.

I wouldn’t call this the best of the Discworld books, but it was certainly still a lot of fun containing much of the satire the series is known for.