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9780451450289: Tigana

Drawing on the most powerful mythic archetypes, this master epic of magic, politics, war--and the power of love and hate--is a rich, beautifully written, multidimensional work. The few surviving inhabitants of the destroyed land of Tigana bond together in a secret battle to release their homeland's curse and gain their freedom.

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About the Author:

Guy Gavriel Kay is an internationally bestselling author. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in the literature of the fantastic, is a two-time winner of the Aurora Award, and won the 2008 World Fantasy Award for Ysabel. His works have been translated into twenty-five languages.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

“A wonderful work in the fantasy tradition, yet full of touches that mark it as something startlingly new.”

The Toronto Star

“A richly sensuous fantasy world, full of evocative history, religions, folklore, local customs, and magical rites.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Packed with action . . . I enjoyed it all!”

The London Times

“An epic fantasy on the grand scale. . . . A beautifully executed and absorbing tale of exile, love, and loyalty.”

Aboriginal Science Fiction

“Thrilling, poignant . . . Tigana is a name we won’t forget.”

Orlando Sentinel

“Brilliant and complex. . . . A consuming epic.”

Publishers Weekly

“Massively satisfying . . . powerfully imagined . . . startlingly new. . . . A powerful and moving meditation.”

The Toronto Star

“Boldly complex . . . generously populated, intelligently articulated.”

USA Today

“A superior fantasy novel.”


“A masterpiece of fiction. . . . Leaves the reader breathless.”

Rave Reviews

“I’m not just impressed by The Summer Tree—I’m overwhelmed! It’s one of those rare books that change your perception of the world forever afterward.”

—Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Summer Tree compares to the Lord of the Rings in depth and the characters are more attuned to our time and world. An outstanding work all the way around.”

—Andre Norton

“Careful world building and strong characterizations create a depth of story uncommon in most fantasy fiction. Highly recommended.”

Library Journal

“Kay has delivered such a magnificent conclusion . . . that I can’t praise it enough. It is a book that makes one proud to be working in the same genre as its author.”

—Charles De Lint, in Fantasy Review

“Kay’s commitment to the great ideals—to sheer human excellence—takes hold of the reader. It’s a remarkable achievement.”


“Complex and compelling. One of the most impressive fantasies in a long time.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A richly ornamental and tightly woven tapestry, a panoramic and compelling tale. . . . Kay masterfully sustains his superb story throughout, balancing one character against another, revealing one surprise after another until the whole of the tale lies before us in its embroidered complexity.”


A Song for Arbonne is the best of commercial fiction, one of those books you wish would never end. A thoughtful, literate adventure filled with rich details and vivid characters, high drama, and graceful prose. A Song for Arbonne is a book to lose yourself in.”

San Francisco Chronicle



IN THE SHAPING OF THIS WORK A GREAT MANY PEOPLE lent me their considerable skills and their support. It is a pleasure to be able to acknowledge that aid. Sue Reynolds once again offered me a map that not only reflected but helped to guide the development of my story. Rex Kay and Neil Randall offered both enthusiasm and perceptive commentary from the early stages of the novel through to its last revisions. I am deeply grateful to both of them.

I am indebted to the scholarship of a great many men and women. It is a particular pleasure to record my admiration for Carlo Ginzberg’s Night Battles (I Benandanti). I have also been stimulated and instructed by the work of, among others, Gene Brucker, Lauro Martines, Jacob Burckhardt, Iris Origo, and Johan Huizinga. In this regard, I wish also to pay grateful tribute to the memory of two men for whom I have long held the deepest respect, and whose work and sources of inspiration have so profoundly guided my own: Joseph Campbell and Robert Graves.

Finally, while it may often appear to be a matter of ritual or rote when an author mentions the role of a spouse in the creation of a book, I can only affirm that it is with both gratitude and love that I wish to acknowledge the sustaining encouragement and counsel I have received in the writing of Tigana, both in Tuscany and at home, from my wife, Laura.



FOR THE ASSISTANCE OF THOSE TO WHOM SUCH THINGS are of importance, I should perhaps note that most of the proper names in this novel should be pronounced according to the rules of the Italian language. Thus, for example, all final vowels are sounded: Corte has two syllables, Sinave and Forese have three. Chiara has the same hard initial sound as chianti but Certando will begin with the same sound as chair or child.

All that you held most dear you will put by

          and leave behind you; and this is the arrow

          the longbow of your exile first lets fly.

You will come to know how bitter as salt and stone

          is the bread of others, how hard the way that goes

          up and down stairs that never are your own.

Dante, The Paradiso

What can a flame remember? If it remembers a little less than is necessary, it goes out; if it remembers a little more than is necessary, it goes out. If only it could teach us, while it burns, to remember correctly.

George Seferis, “Stratis the Sailor Describes a Man”


BOTH MOONS WERE HIGH, DIMMING THE LIGHT OF ALL but the brightest stars. The campfires burned on either side of the river, stretching away into the night. Quietly flowing, the Deisa caught the moonlight and the orange of the nearer fires and cast them back in wavery, sinuous ripples. And all the lines of light led to his eyes, to where he was sitting on the riverbank, hands about his knees, thinking about dying and the life he’d lived.

There was a glory to the night, Saevar thought, breathing deeply of the mild summer air, smelling water and water flowers and grass, watching the reflection of blue moonlight and silver on the river, hearing the Deisa’s murmurous flow and the distant singing from around the fires. There was singing on the other side of the river too, he noted, listening to the enemy soldiers north of them. It was curiously hard to impute any absolute sense of evil to those harmonizing voices, or to hate them quite as blindly as being a soldier seemed to require. He wasn’t really a soldier, though, and he had never been good at hating.

He couldn’t actually see any figures moving in the grass across the river, but he could see the fires and it wasn’t hard to judge how many more of them lay north of the Deisa than there were here behind him, where his people waited for the dawn.

Almost certainly their last. He had no illusions; none of them did. Not since the battle at this same river five days ago. All they had was courage, and a leader whose defiant gallantry was almost matched by the two young sons who were here with him.

They were beautiful boys, both of them. Saevar regretted that he had never had the chance to sculpt either of them. The Prince he had done of course, many times. The Prince called him a friend. It could not be said, Saevar thought, that he had lived a useless or an empty life. He’d had his art, the joy of it and the spur, and had lived to see it praised by the great ones of his province, indeed of the whole peninsula.

And he’d known love, as well. He thought of his wife and then of his own two children. The daughter whose eyes had taught him part of the meaning of life on the day she’d been born fifteen years ago. And his son, too young by a year to have been allowed to come north to war. Saevar remembered the look on the boy’s face when they had parted. He supposed that much the same expression had been in his own eyes. He’d embraced both children, and then he’d held his wife for a long time, in silence; all the words had been spoken many times through all the years. Then he’d turned, quickly, so they would not see his tears, and mounted his horse, unwontedly awkward with a sword on his hip, and had ridden away with his Prince to war against those who had come upon them from over the sea.

He heard a light tread, behind him and to his left, from where the campfires were burning and voices were threading in song to the tune a syrenya played. He turned to the sound.

“Be careful,” he called softly. “Unless you want to trip over a sculptor.”

“Saevar?” an amused voice murmured. A voice he knew well.

“It is, my lord Prince,” he replied. “Can you remember a night so beautiful?”

Valentin walked over—there was more than enough light by which to see—and sank neatly down on the grass beside him. “Not readily,” he agreed. “Can you see? Vidomni’s waxing matches Ilarion’s wane. The two moons together would make one whole.”

“A strange whole that would be,” Saevar said.

“’Tis a strange night.”

“Is it? Is the night changed by what we do down here? We mortal men in our folly?”

“The way we see it is,” Valentin said softly, his quick mind engaged by the question. “The beauty we find is shaped, at least in part, by what we know the morning will bring.”

“What will it bring, my lord?” Saevar asked, before he could stop himself. Half hoping, he realized, as a child hopes, that his dark-haired Prince of grace and pride would have an answer yet to what lay waiting across the river. An answer to all those Ygrathen voices and all the Ygrathen fires burning north of them. An answer, most of all, to the terrible King of Ygrath and his sorcery, and the hatred that he at least would have no trouble summoning tomorrow.

Valentin was silent, looking out at the river. Overhead Saevar saw a star fall, angling across the sky west of them to plunge, most likely, into the wideness of the sea. He was regretting the question; this was no time to be putting a burden of false certitude upon the Prince.

Just as he was about to apologize, Valentin spoke, his voice measured and low, so as not to carry beyond their small circle of dark.

“I have been walking among the fires, and Corsin and Loredan have been doing the same, offering comfort and hope and such laughter as we can bring to ease men into sleep. There is not much else we can do.”

“They are good boys, both of them,” Saevar offered. “I was thinking that I’ve never sculpted either of them.”

“I’m sorry for that,” Valentin said. “If anything lasts for any length of time after us it will be art such as yours. Our books and music, Orsaria’s green and white tower in Avalle.” He paused, and returned to his original thought. “They are brave boys. They are also sixteen and nineteen, and if I could have I would have left them behind with their brother . . . and your son.”

It was one of the reasons Saevar loved him: that Valentin would remember his own boy, and think of him with the youngest prince, even now, at such a time as this.

To the east and a little behind them, away from the fires, a trialla suddenly began to sing and both men fell silent, listening to the silver of that sound. Saevar’s heart was suddenly full, he was afraid that he might shame himself with tears, that they would be mistaken for fear.

Valentin said, “But I haven’t answered your question, old friend. Truth seems easier here in the dark, away from the fires and all the need I have been seeing there. Saevar, I am so sorry, but the truth is that almost all of the morning’s blood will be ours, and I am afraid it will be all of ours. Forgive me.”

“There is nothing to forgive,” Saevar said quickly, and as firmly as he could. “This is not a war of your making, nor one you could avoid or undo. And besides, I may not be a soldier but I hope I am not a fool. It was an idle question: I can see the answer for myself, my lord. In the fires across the river.”

“And the sorcery,” Valentin added quietly. “More that, than the fires. We could beat back greater numbers, even weary and wounded as we are from last week’s battle. But Brandin’s magic is with them now. The lion has come himself, not the cub, and because the cub is dead there must be blood for the morning sun. Should I have surrendered last week? To the boy?”

Saevar turned to look at the Prince in the blended moonlight, disbelieving. He was speechless for a moment, then found his voice. “I would have gone home from that surrender,” he said, with resolution, “and walked into the Palace by the Sea, and smashed every sculpture I ever made of you.”

A second later he heard an odd sound. It took him a moment to realize that Valentin was laughing, because it wasn’t laughter like any Saevar had ever heard.

“Oh, my friend,” the Prince said, at length, “I think I knew you would say that. Oh, our pride. Our terrible pride. Will they remember that most about us, do you think, after we are gone?”

“Perhaps,” Saevar said. “But they will remember. The one thing we know with certainty is that they will remember us. Here in the peninsula, and in Ygrath, and Quileia, even west over the sea, in Barbadior and its Empire. We will leave a name.”

“And we leave our children,” Valentin said. “The younger ones. Sons and daughters who will remember us. Babes in arms our wives and grandfathers will teach when they grow up to know the story of the River Deisa, what happened here, and, even more—what we were in this province before the fall. Brandin of Ygrath can destroy us tomorrow, he can overrun our home, but he cannot take away our name, or the memory of what we have been.”

“He cannot,” Saevar echoed, feeling an odd, unexpected lift to his heart. “I am sure that you are right. We are not the last free generation. There will be ripples of tomorrow that run down all the years. Our children’s children will remember us, and will not lie tamely under the yoke.”

“And if any of them seem inclined to,” Valentin added in a different tone, “there will be the children or grandchildren of a certain sculptor who will smash their heads for them, of stone or otherwise.”

Saevar smiled in the darkness. He wanted to laugh, but it was not in him just then. “I hope so, my lord, if the goddesses and the god allow. Thank you. Thank you for saying that.”

“No thanks, Saevar. Not between us and not this night. The Triad guard and shelter you tomorrow, and after, and guard and shelter all that you have loved.”

Saevar swallowed. “You know you are a part of that, my lord. A part of what I have loved.”

Valentin did not reply. Only, after a moment, he leaned forward and kissed Saevar upon the brow. Then he held up a hand and the sculptor, his eyes blurring, raised his own hand and touched his Prince’s palm to palm in farewell. Valentin rose and was gone, a shadow in moonlight, back towards the fires of his army.

The singing seemed to have stopped, on both sides of the river. It was very late. Saevar knew he should be making his own way back and settling down for a few snatched hours of sleep. It was hard to leave though, to rise and surrender the perfect beauty of this last night. The river, the moons, the arch of stars, the fireflies and all the fires.

In the end he decided to stay there by the water. He sat alone in the summer darkness on the banks of the River Deisa, wit...

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