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I just finished Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana. It was quite a fun book, and I enjoyed it - however, I found myself irritated by two facets of the narrative. I'm going to discuss them under a cut, to spare anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled about the novel.

The first issue I had is really central to the book: in fact, this book has suddenly made me understand an aspect of Catholicism's just war teaching that always seemed wrong to be previously.

To wit, it is assumed throughout that all true Tiganese wanted to fight Brandin's troops by the banks of Deisa. Indeed, there's a conversation between the Prince of Tigana and his sculptor (?) in which the sculptor says that he would have disowned the Prince had the Prince surrendered to Brandin.

Now, it appears to me that no one was in any doubt that Tigana was going to lose in the end: they knew that even if they could beat Stevan, they'd get crushed as soon as Brandin turned his attention their way. In those circumstances, it seems to me that they definitely should have surrendered. All that they accomplished by fighting was to kill a lot of people on both sides and to call down Brandin's vengeance on Tigana. (For that matter, would it have been so hard to just _knock Stevan out_? Cut off a hand? Something?)

Brandin's vengeance leads me on to the second thing that annoyed me about the book. Throughout Alessan, Catriana, Baerd and Devan all talk a lot about how they're fighting to overthrow the tyrants to bring back Tigana's name. I'm clearly revealing a tin ear for romance here, but I don't think that that's a good enough reason to kill an awful lot of people. Nor - despite the pretence of an argument about it - do I think that it's really addressed in the book.

I find it particularly strange given that it seemed to me that the random barbaric executions were more than enough reason to lead people to fight against Alberich. Yet that type of evil only gets mentioned occasionally in comparison to the loss of Tigana's name.

Thinking about it, actually, I think the major problem with me buying into Alessan's crusade was that despite the two 'tyrants' being classed as equal, Brandin seemed like quite a nice guy overall. There was a token effort at making him evil with the tribute ships and the treatment of wizards (though we didn't actually see any Ygrathen wizard-hunters). Other than the genuinely disturbing/evil treatment of the Fool (only revealed very late on in the novel) we were quite short on reasons to hate Brandin. Actually, he seemed like quite a nice guy overall. So the only real reason to want to overthrow him seems to have been to get Tigana's name back. I'm not buying that as an excuse for killing people, sorry.
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November 2013

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