Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tigana, the conclusion

Tigana is an interestingly-told story, especially since so much of it has happened before this novel begins.  Once I got to the halfway point, I had to go ahead and finish reading it, which is something that happens to me with fantasy less and less as I get older.

The characters all put their hope in the prince of Tigana, Alessan, who is a symbol of his country in exile, since no one in "Lower Corte" except those who were alive when Alessan's father killed Brandin's son in the war can now remember even the name of their former country, Tigana.  When Devin looks at Alessan, "he found his avenue to passion again, to the burning inward response to what had happened here--and was still happening. Every hour of every day in the ransacked, broken-down province named Lower Corte."

One bad guy, Alberico, gets badder, killing the messenger who brings him bad news.  And the bad news is that the other bad guy, Brandin, who has destroyed Tigana so thoroughly that one day no one will remember its name, has gotten better (through the love of a good woman, Dianora), and has abdicated as ruler of his native land in favor of ruling over his adopted land, the land he has so thoroughly conquered.  Brandin is complicated and interesting and you want to like him, but Alberico is just a bully.  Alessan's stated goal is to defeat both at the same time, so neither will get the upper hand, but by the end of the novel, it seems a terrible shame and a waste that Brandin can't get past his hatred for his son's killers enough to do something more positive with his power:  "He had cut himself off from his home, from all that had anchored him in life, he was here among an alien people he had conquered, asking for their aid, needing their belief in him."

But Alessan's goals are always the ones that seem most important, to the other characters, and to the reader.  He is the one who says (he's still in his early twenties, mind) "I am learning so many things so late. In this world, where we find ourselves, we need compassion more than anything, I think, or we are all alone."

So when Alessan triumphs and both Alberico and Brandin fall, I rejoice, except for the very long shadow that the secret about Alessan's father, the King of Tigana, casts over the ending.  I hate the character of Scelto, Dianora's loyal servant.  I hate him with a fiery and enduring passion, because he is the one who decides not to tell the King's story. I'd like to believe it is to make sure that all feuds are ended, but I think it is simply despair, and therefore unworthy of its place in the ending of such a long and powerful saga.

Tigana is a well-told tale.  I found it reliably absorbing every time I picked it up, until I couldn't put it down anymore.


Kailana said...

I really need to read this...

Jeanne said...

Kailana, I can't imagine that you wouldn't like it even more than I did. I'm beginning to think the younger the reader, the better the fantasy novel.