Do you like any of the characters in Tigana?

CTRandall

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Do you like any of the characters in Tigana? If so, why?

I'm about half-way through and I'm struggling with the book. There are some really good moments--both assassination attempts stand out--but I'm having a hard time getting through the massive internal monologues--almost an entire chapter of Dianora remembering her past as she walks from the saishan to the reception, for example (there's a case where GGK could've done with a lot more 'show, not tell').

But even more than that, I'm having a hard time liking any of the characters. The closest I get is Brandin, who seems to have real emotions and conundrums. Dianora is next, though I was put off by her relationship with her brother (absolutely unecessary and seemingly put in just to make things more extreme). All the rest are pretty much cardboard cut-outs for me. Devin, Catriana and Alessan, in particular, are bland tropes that can be found in almost any fantasy novel. (I was tempted to put the novel down near the start when GGK stuck Catriana and Devin together in the closet. It felt like something out of the fantasy misogyny of the 1980s.)

Admittedly, the novel has gotten better as it goes further in, and I appreciate that GGK can write really well. But do the characters get any more interesting?
 

Mad Alice

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Yes there are a few I quite like. Some for the characterisation more then I'd like to meet them up at the pub. But there are one or two I wouldn't mind having by for Sunday brunch. Especially if zombies or similar can be expected.
 

The Big Peat

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I like all of them. I like how Devin, Catriana, Alessan, Baerd, and Dianora are molded by their country's fall and the resulting trauma and loss of identity, and the different ways it shows. I also like GGK's sense of humour, which means I like pretty much all of theirs.

I like how Devin actively seeks out adventure rather than being prodded along by destiny and how, despite having forged a successful new identity and standing on the cusp of his dream, he chases that adventure and missing link in his life. I like how he solves his problems like any young man/person with something missing with booze and sex. I like how smart he is. He's a picaresque character that took a wrong turn and ended up in an Epic Fantasy.

Catriana is probably my least favourite as, well, that's kinda her thing. She's defensive and driven and with a huge sense of guilt about the whole thing. I guess I like how she doesn't really thaw. There's a good contrast with Baerd, who's faded in himself but who does eventually come out of his shell. And tbh, I think the thing with Dianora does help with selling that.

I'm an Alessan fan. I've got a soft spot for characters like him - but I think there's a few scenes in particular that betrays the insecurity behind the facade, the doubt about whether he's truly doing the right thing that particularly sells him for me.

That said... if you're not feeling them now, I'm not how much you'll be feeling them by the end.
 

CTRandall

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@Mad Alice Are there any specifically that you like better than the others? And could you give some reasons?

@The Big Peat As I'm only half-way through and the book bounces around from one set of characters to another, there may still be time for some of them to develop. So far, however, it's only the action scenes that really grab me. He does a good job making those surprising and gripping.
 

The Big Peat

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@CTRandall did you ever finish this, and if so did your opinions change? I did a re-read recently and am writing a review and it reminded me of what you said, particularly after re-reading the author's afterword for the first time. Curious to see how it turned out.

In particular, he said outright what I'd kind of got already - he was following ideas about how repressed people express themselves through 'aberrant' sexuality because what other forms of rebellion do they have? What sort of love do those constantly hated think they deserve? That's why the closet scene, and the incest, and a bunch of other stuff, are there. I don't always agree with how he does it but it's all very tightly story linked, and I don't think everything he portrays is to be agreed with either.
 

CTRandall

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I never finished. I got somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2-way through. There were aspects of the writing I liked--he does a great job with action scenes--but, even after reading your spoiler, I'm still not convinced by the characters. I get what he's trying to do but their actions don't strike me, at least, as very believable. Arundati Roi does a similar thing in God of Small Things but, there, I could understand how the characters could end up acting like that.

Other than that, I also felt that several characters were fantasy stereotypes: the commoner who is a reluctant hero; the nobleman who is the key to casting down the tyrant, restoring his kingdom and returning joy and happiness to the peasants. Some people have said that the characters get more interesting as the book goes on but I'm so tired of those tropes in fantasy, I couldn't go any further.

I can see, though, how other readers would enjoy the book.
 

The Big Peat

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A shame and very far from my experiences - but that's how it goes sometimes!
 

CTRandall

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I think part of my reaction is down to me being tired of epic fantasy in general. I've read too many books where the fate of everyone and everything depends on the Destiny of the Chosen One who has to get the Most Terrible/Awesome Weapon Ever Made before the Worst Enemy Imaginable gets his evil claws on it.

Sorry for the rant! Give me a couple of years to detox and, when I've made myself sick to my stomach on non-epic fantasy, I might be able to come back to authors like Guy Gavriel Kay and Brandon Sanderson with a fresher, more open mind.
 

The Big Peat

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I think part of my reaction is down to me being tired of epic fantasy in general. I've read too many books where the fate of everyone and everything depends on the Destiny of the Chosen One who has to get the Most Terrible/Awesome Weapon Ever Made before the Worst Enemy Imaginable gets his evil claws on it.

Sorry for the rant! Give me a couple of years to detox and, when I've made myself sick to my stomach on non-epic fantasy, I might be able to come back to authors like Guy Gavriel Kay and Brandon Sanderson with a fresher, more open mind.
I mean, if you'd bounced off of Wheel of Time, or the Fionavar Tapestry, like that, I'd get it, but you're reading things into this that I just don't see. There is no chosen one, there is no great weapon, the enemy is a cultured and charismatic man who arguably does a lot of good. Wouldn't call Devin a reluctant hero either; he very actively chooses his destiny and isn't really that much of a hero. Tigana is Epic Fantasy but not really.

I would be fascinated if you did ever come back to this as I think you've read this subconsciously looking for Epic Fantasy stuff and therefore finding it when isn't really there.
 

CTRandall

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Hence me saying 'sorry for the rant'. I know Tigana doesn't have all of that stuff (though I do think several of the characters are pretty much stock types--Brandin excluded, he was the only one I found really interesting).
 
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