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  #1  
Old 01-22-2014, 04:48 PM
Southpaw2012 Southpaw2012 is offline
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Default Tigana by GGK (spoilers)

Great stuff! I had a mix of emotions as I finished; happy at the triumph, sad at the loss, at a loss for words for the near reunions that I thought for sure would happen but never did. Wow
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:18 AM
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I know, it's such a great book! now you've made me want to read it again.
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:17 PM
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Southpaw, I've linked the discussions we've had on Tigana below. They're spoiler heavy, but you've finished, so it's fine.

So, I started to read GGK...

Tigana

I'm also copying the Afterward that GGK wrote for Tigana when it was reissued in 1999, and can be found on his fan website, Bright Weavings:

Tigana Afterword
(This afterword first appeared in the ROC USA 10th anniversary edition of Tigana, published in 1999. It is reprinted here with kind permission of the publishers.)

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. The world today offers more than enough examples of both pitfalls: ignorance of history and its lessons, and the refusal to let the past be past.

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?

Well, one might consider caution as a byword.

I doubt there's any other novel I've written for which I'd even attempt a reconstruction of the earliest seeds of the book. But Tigana happens to have had a number of quite specific and very powerful elements in its origin, and some of these I can (or I have persuaded myself that I can) reconstruct.

Some time in the latter part of the 1980's I began seeing in my mind a hunting cabin in the woods, in some Medieval or Renaissance setting. There was someone unexpected (from the point of view of those inside) sitting in the window. I had not the least idea who that was or what else happened, in those early days, but I knew that a book would unfold from whatever took place in and around that cabin.

There exists a photo - I think I saw it first in 'LIFE' magazine - from Czechosloviakia, in 1968, the time of the 'Prague Spring' when a brief, euphoric flicker of freedom animated that Iron Curtain country before the Soviet tanks rolled in and crushed it brutally.

There are actually two photographs. The first shows a number of Communist Party functionaries in a room, wearing nondescript suits, looking properly sombre. The second is the same photo. Almost. There is one functionary missing now, and something I recall to be a large plant inserted where he was. The missing figure - part of the crushed uprising - is not only dead, he has been erased from the record. A trivial technical accomplishment today, when the capacity we have for altering images and sound is so extreme, but back then the two photographs registered powerfully for me, and lingered for twenty years: not only killed, but made to never have been.

Another starting point: there's a play called 'Translations', by Brian Friel. It is basically an extended, passionate debate between a village priest in Ireland and the leader of an English survey team that has been traversing the countryside, mapping it carefully and - more importantly - changing the names of places, from Gaelic to English. Both men are aware of what is at stake: when you want to subjugate a people - to erase their sense of themselves as separate and distinctive - one place to start (and it is sometimes enough) is with their language and names. Names link to history, and we need a sense of our history to define ourselves. When Maoist China decreed that history began with their own Long March and introduced an education system to back that up, thereby eradicating thousands of years of the past (or trying to), they knew exactly what they were doing.

It is hardly an accident that separatist movements so often involve attempts to reclaim a lost language. In Provence highway signs give place names in both French and the almost-lost Provenšal tongue. The independence movement in Wales has incorporated attempts to reclaim their language as one of public discourse (a reaction to the English refusal to allow it to be used in schools or even schoolyards once upon a not-so-long-ago time). In Quebec, the often bitter struggle between Separatists and those who wish to remain a province of Canada finds a battleground in language all the time. Tigana was an attempt to use magic to explore these themes: erasing a people from the record of history by stripping them of their name.

A story like this needs a setting. Another strand to mine, even before it was a story, came from reading early Italian Renaissance history. The record of that brilliant and brutal time brought home to me how long-delayed Italian coherence and identity was because of the savage feuding among the city-states. Internal warfare made them not only incapable of repelling the ambitions of France and Spain but led the Italian cities to take turns inviting them in - so long as the outside army did a proper job of raping and pillaging hated Milan or Venice or Florence or Pisa on behalf of whichever city had extended them an invitation. The boot of Italy became my Peninsula of the Palm, with the ambience of olive groves and vineyards I wanted, and my model for Brandin of Ygrath became that of a Borgia or Medici prince, arrogant, cultured, far too proud. Alberico, opposing him, was a crude, efficient Politburo survivor.

The novelist Milan Kundera fed my emerging theme of oppression and survival with his musings about the relationship between conquered peoples and an unstable sexuality: what I called 'the insurrections of night.' The underlying ideas, for me, had to do with how people rebel when they can't rebel, how we behave when the world has lost its bearings, how shattered self-respect can ripple through to the most intimate levels of our lives.

I wanted to start a book about subterfuge and deception with an outright lie - and the first sentence of chapter one does that. I wanted to work with music, the mobility of musicians in a relatively immobile society, and to re-examine the mage-source bond from Fionavar, showing a darker side to such a link: and that wish found an outlet in Alessan's binding of Erlein. I hoped to explore, as part of the revolt the book would chronicle, the idea of the evils done by good men, to stretch the reader with ambiguities and divided loyalties in a genre that tended (and still tends) not to work that way.

The debate between Alessan and Erlein is intended as a real one, not a plot device. The assertion made by the bound wizard that the roads of the eastern Palm are safer under Alberico than they were under Sandre d'Astibar is meant to raise a question about the legitimacy of pursuing one's quarrels - even one's quest for a people's obliterated identity and past - by using others as unwilling instruments. By the same token, the same is true of the rage Alessan's mother feels, seeing her son coolly attempting to shape a subtle, balanced political resolution for the entire peninsula, where she sees only a matter of hatred and blood and Tigana's lost name.

These are ambitious elements for what was always meant to be a romantic adventure. They intimidated me as they began to emerge, even recording them now I find myself shaking my head. But beneath them all lies the idea of using the fantasy genre in just this way: letting the universality of fantasy - of once upon a time - allow escapist fiction to be more than just that, to also bring us home. I tried to imagine myself with a stiletto not a bludgeon, slipping the themes of the story in quietly while keeping a reader turning pages well past bedtime.

It is a matter of gratitude and pleasure for me to have a sense, on this tenth anniversary of a generously received book, that it might have happened that way: those first ideas and images and wishes becoming the foundation pieces of the novel, the themes sliding in, people awake into the night.

This is how I like to remember it, at any rate.

Guy Gavriel Kay
Toronto,1999.

Great food for thought.
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  #4  
Old 01-23-2014, 02:58 PM
Southpaw2012 Southpaw2012 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara View Post
Southpaw, I've linked the discussions we've had on Tigana below. They're spoiler heavy, but you've finished, so it's fine.

So, I started to read GGK...

Tigana

I'm also copying the Afterward that GGK wrote for Tigana when it was reissued in 1999, and can be found on his fan website, Bright Weavings:

Tigana Afterword
(This afterword first appeared in the ROC USA 10th anniversary edition of Tigana, published in 1999. It is reprinted here with kind permission of the publishers.)

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. The world today offers more than enough examples of both pitfalls: ignorance of history and its lessons, and the refusal to let the past be past.

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?

Well, one might consider caution as a byword.

I doubt there's any other novel I've written for which I'd even attempt a reconstruction of the earliest seeds of the book. But Tigana happens to have had a number of quite specific and very powerful elements in its origin, and some of these I can (or I have persuaded myself that I can) reconstruct.

Some time in the latter part of the 1980's I began seeing in my mind a hunting cabin in the woods, in some Medieval or Renaissance setting. There was someone unexpected (from the point of view of those inside) sitting in the window. I had not the least idea who that was or what else happened, in those early days, but I knew that a book would unfold from whatever took place in and around that cabin.

There exists a photo - I think I saw it first in 'LIFE' magazine - from Czechosloviakia, in 1968, the time of the 'Prague Spring' when a brief, euphoric flicker of freedom animated that Iron Curtain country before the Soviet tanks rolled in and crushed it brutally.

There are actually two photographs. The first shows a number of Communist Party functionaries in a room, wearing nondescript suits, looking properly sombre. The second is the same photo. Almost. There is one functionary missing now, and something I recall to be a large plant inserted where he was. The missing figure - part of the crushed uprising - is not only dead, he has been erased from the record. A trivial technical accomplishment today, when the capacity we have for altering images and sound is so extreme, but back then the two photographs registered powerfully for me, and lingered for twenty years: not only killed, but made to never have been.

Another starting point: there's a play called 'Translations', by Brian Friel. It is basically an extended, passionate debate between a village priest in Ireland and the leader of an English survey team that has been traversing the countryside, mapping it carefully and - more importantly - changing the names of places, from Gaelic to English. Both men are aware of what is at stake: when you want to subjugate a people - to erase their sense of themselves as separate and distinctive - one place to start (and it is sometimes enough) is with their language and names. Names link to history, and we need a sense of our history to define ourselves. When Maoist China decreed that history began with their own Long March and introduced an education system to back that up, thereby eradicating thousands of years of the past (or trying to), they knew exactly what they were doing.

It is hardly an accident that separatist movements so often involve attempts to reclaim a lost language. In Provence highway signs give place names in both French and the almost-lost Provenšal tongue. The independence movement in Wales has incorporated attempts to reclaim their language as one of public discourse (a reaction to the English refusal to allow it to be used in schools or even schoolyards once upon a not-so-long-ago time). In Quebec, the often bitter struggle between Separatists and those who wish to remain a province of Canada finds a battleground in language all the time. Tigana was an attempt to use magic to explore these themes: erasing a people from the record of history by stripping them of their name.

A story like this needs a setting. Another strand to mine, even before it was a story, came from reading early Italian Renaissance history. The record of that brilliant and brutal time brought home to me how long-delayed Italian coherence and identity was because of the savage feuding among the city-states. Internal warfare made them not only incapable of repelling the ambitions of France and Spain but led the Italian cities to take turns inviting them in - so long as the outside army did a proper job of raping and pillaging hated Milan or Venice or Florence or Pisa on behalf of whichever city had extended them an invitation. The boot of Italy became my Peninsula of the Palm, with the ambience of olive groves and vineyards I wanted, and my model for Brandin of Ygrath became that of a Borgia or Medici prince, arrogant, cultured, far too proud. Alberico, opposing him, was a crude, efficient Politburo survivor.

The novelist Milan Kundera fed my emerging theme of oppression and survival with his musings about the relationship between conquered peoples and an unstable sexuality: what I called 'the insurrections of night.' The underlying ideas, for me, had to do with how people rebel when they can't rebel, how we behave when the world has lost its bearings, how shattered self-respect can ripple through to the most intimate levels of our lives.

I wanted to start a book about subterfuge and deception with an outright lie - and the first sentence of chapter one does that. I wanted to work with music, the mobility of musicians in a relatively immobile society, and to re-examine the mage-source bond from Fionavar, showing a darker side to such a link: and that wish found an outlet in Alessan's binding of Erlein. I hoped to explore, as part of the revolt the book would chronicle, the idea of the evils done by good men, to stretch the reader with ambiguities and divided loyalties in a genre that tended (and still tends) not to work that way.

The debate between Alessan and Erlein is intended as a real one, not a plot device. The assertion made by the bound wizard that the roads of the eastern Palm are safer under Alberico than they were under Sandre d'Astibar is meant to raise a question about the legitimacy of pursuing one's quarrels - even one's quest for a people's obliterated identity and past - by using others as unwilling instruments. By the same token, the same is true of the rage Alessan's mother feels, seeing her son coolly attempting to shape a subtle, balanced political resolution for the entire peninsula, where she sees only a matter of hatred and blood and Tigana's lost name.

These are ambitious elements for what was always meant to be a romantic adventure. They intimidated me as they began to emerge, even recording them now I find myself shaking my head. But beneath them all lies the idea of using the fantasy genre in just this way: letting the universality of fantasy - of once upon a time - allow escapist fiction to be more than just that, to also bring us home. I tried to imagine myself with a stiletto not a bludgeon, slipping the themes of the story in quietly while keeping a reader turning pages well past bedtime.

It is a matter of gratitude and pleasure for me to have a sense, on this tenth anniversary of a generously received book, that it might have happened that way: those first ideas and images and wishes becoming the foundation pieces of the novel, the themes sliding in, people awake into the night.

This is how I like to remember it, at any rate.

Guy Gavriel Kay
Toronto,1999.

Great food for thought.

Unfortunately it's archived :/. I'll just go off some of the stuff I saw in the link you posted. I agree that by the end, Brandin was not as bad of a guy as he is made out to be from Alessan's pov. He was just a man angry over his sons death and went overboard with revenge. The most tragic part of the story, in my opinion, is when Dianora kills herself without seeing Baerd again. I had it in my mind the whole time reading that they would meet up at least once at the end and then something crazy would happen but instead, she dies before they can reunite. A truly tragic situation. They were so close damnit!
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Old 01-24-2014, 10:02 AM
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Now I want to re-read it.

Tigana was my favorite of the GGK books I have read so far.


All of his writing has a sadness to it though that I cannot quite set aside, in fact I think that is quite intentional on his part--that we are wary of it. When I consider a re-read of any of it, I feel that sadness start to overwhelm me.
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:28 AM
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Great stuff! I had a mix of emotions as I finished; happy at the triumph, sad at the loss, at a loss for words for the near reunions that I thought for sure would happen but never did. Wow
I know, right? Dont you end up feeling so bad for Brandin? Poor guy just wanted to love and they went and murdered his poor kid like that.

So sad.
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:30 AM
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Now I want to re-read it.

Tigana was my favorite of the GGK books I have read so far.


All of his writing has a sadness to it though that I cannot quite set aside, in fact I think that is quite intentional on his part--that we are wary of it. When I consider a re-read of any of it, I feel that sadness start to overwhelm me.
For me, its an equal toss up between Tigana, The Sarantine Mosaic and Lions of Al-Rassan. All 3 are brilliant but for different reasons.

This is not to take away from Last Light or his other books which are also excellent.
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:06 PM
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For me, its an equal toss up between Tigana, The Sarantine Mosaic and Lions of Al-Rassan. All 3 are brilliant but for different reasons.

This is not to take away from Last Light or his other books which are also excellent.
I have not read Lions yet, on my list. But, as I said, the overwhelming feeling of sadness always gives me pause when I consider picking up one of his books.


Fionovar series spoiler:
Spoiler:
Don't even say the name Diarmuid to me, I will start sobbing.
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Old 01-25-2014, 03:22 PM
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I have not read Lions yet, on my list. But, as I said, the overwhelming feeling of sadness always gives me pause when I consider picking up one of his books.
Lions is really really good...albeit quite sad.
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Old 01-29-2014, 07:37 AM
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What's archived, Southpaw?

Saucy, I agree, completely about the sadness. But for me, it's tempered with the joy that I get to experience everytime I get to see old friends again. Even he who shall not be named, when you go back and re-read his introduction to the series...well, it's certainly bittersweet, but he shines all the brighter for it (in my opinion).

Dianora's great tragedy is that she never had a chance at happiness. Ever. She was the human cost to Brandin's spell, ironically enough. The odds were never going to work out in her favour, and she knew it deep down. Her death though, gave Baerd a lifetime of hope instead of one of resentment or bitterness. He's never burdened with the knowledge of her life with Brandin, and can instead always look forward to seeing her, maybe, thanks to Scelto.
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Old 04-27-2014, 12:21 PM
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Just finished Lions of Al-Rassan. Did you hear me whimper? I got to the last 30 or so pages and stopped. I knew sadness was coming and just couldn't do it. So I let it sit for TWO WHOLE FVCKING DAYS to brace myself.

Loved it.

Now I don't know what to read. I have probably 8 New books waiting but I need to wait a day to make sure whatever follows lives up to expectations.
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Old 04-28-2014, 04:03 PM
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Just finished Lions of Al-Rassan. Did you hear me whimper? I got to the last 30 or so pages and stopped. I knew sadness was coming and just couldn't do it. So I let it sit for TWO WHOLE FVCKING DAYS to brace myself.

Loved it.

Now I don't know what to read. I have probably 8 New books waiting but I need to wait a day to make sure whatever follows lives up to expectations.
So...I gotta ask, who did you like more?

Rodrigo or Ammar?
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"We caught them in an alley on skid row in downtown Philly and brought them down with Uzi's and dogs. I beat the shit out of one of the guys for resisting arrest. After that, I went home, fried up some tofu with strawberry preserves and melon sticky rice, laid down on the couch with my snuggie and ate rose petals in sweet daisy wine sauce and watched Mamma Mia on DVD and then cried myself to sleep."

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Old 04-28-2014, 07:20 PM
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If I had to absolutely pick one, Rodrigo. But it is a thin line to walk.
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Old 05-05-2014, 08:25 AM
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I say the same, and i wonder sometimes, if it's because of how it ended that I feel that way. Would I swing and say Ammar if the book had ended differently? I cannot express hom much love I feel for these characters - moreso, than almost any others in the GGK world.

Dav - have you read the Sarantine Moasaic?

Saucy, maybe resign yourself to the fact that nothing will compare? I always find myself in somewhat of a book hangover after finishing GGK and usually pick soemthing totally fluffy and lighthearted to compensate. A little Bridget Jones, a little Jude Devereaux, you know?
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Old 05-05-2014, 12:06 PM
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Yes, I've read it a couple times, Ishara. I'm pretty sure we've discussed it in the past actually.
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Bonded to Brita

"We caught them in an alley on skid row in downtown Philly and brought them down with Uzi's and dogs. I beat the shit out of one of the guys for resisting arrest. After that, I went home, fried up some tofu with strawberry preserves and melon sticky rice, laid down on the couch with my snuggie and ate rose petals in sweet daisy wine sauce and watched Mamma Mia on DVD and then cried myself to sleep."

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Old 05-05-2014, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara View Post
I say the same, and i wonder sometimes, if it's because of how it ended that I feel that way. Would I swing and say Ammar if the book had ended differently? I cannot express hom much love I feel for these characters - moreso, than almost any others in the GGK world.
I think it is because he did two things. Each is a character defining moment but both together made me adore him

After setting the stage and explaining early on that he would always be faithful to his wife, he:

1. Walked away from Fehane at carnivale

then

2. He voices his feelings to her when she had already made a choice.

He did not leave her hanging emotionally.


Then his relationship with Ammar, but that was equally compelling regarding BOTH men. The mutual respect and ultimate knowledge that they could not overcome their differences in the grand scale of life.... Welllll my god that was heartbreaking.
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