I first fell in love with Guy Gavriel Kay's work when I did an internet search for fantasy fiction that was a little different from the basic Western European medieval setting and found high praise for The Lions of Al-Rassan. I love the lyrical prose of his writing and the way he makes the reader feel immersed in the setting. He also does his research; the little details really add to the feeling of being transported to another world/time.
After Lions, Tigana was next on my list of GGK's works to read. Normally I tear through a novel, wanting to gobble it all up and then digest it later. For Tigana, I read it a little at a time and it took me a week to finish. The reason is that the story takes some time to think through. I loved the characters and the attempts to make them three dimensional. I loved that there were good and bad qualities to most of them. I loved the world and time that we were transported to as readers. I loved the sad yet poetic way that GGK wrote, showing us the tragedies that had befallen these people and the losses many of them had suffered.
However, I found myself yelling at the book towards the end. Why? Many reasons, and not all that I can really specifically pinpoint. First of all, the Baerd and Dianora storyline bothered me. Yes, for the obvious reason that they were brother and sister AND lovers but I get why GGK did that (sort of...) but mainly because I feel like there was just no redemption or happiness for them. It can be argued that Baerd found happiness in the end, but GGK wanted us to think that life just goes on in this peninsula so no one would have a stereotypically happy ending. I wanted them to reunite, to at least see each other face-to-face if nothing else -- they didn't even have to know each other.
I also just didn't see the romance between Catriana and Alessan. That may be because I didn't pick up on any subtle hints, but that declaration of love just blind sided me. After all the tension between Catriana and Devin, this revelation came out of nowhere. Not to mention she miraculously (well, with the aid of magic) survived a suicidal jump out of a palace tower window. I would have preferred to see the fallout and reactions of the characters to her death and how that may cause them to react to events in the future.
And last but not least, I had issues with Scelto not coming clean with Alessan at the end to let him know that Rhun was his father. (Well, I also had issues with Dianora not confiding in Scelto.) I just felt like GGK wanted to highlight the tragedy completely. And would Alessan not have recognized his own father, even if he was disfigured? If Dianora didn't, then I guess he wouldn't either. In the end, all I can say is that I really liked this book. Of course things aren't always straightforward or happy in life, which is why I can accept all the things I didn't like because it was the story that GGK wanted to tell us, a journey he wanted to take us on. And honestly, what saved me from really railing against the book was the last sentence. That really hit it home for me and reinforced my love for GGK's work.