Tigana is both a sweeping epic and a look into human nature – flaws and all. The characters and plot exist in an area of grey where good and evil aren't absolutes. The plot follows a culture that – after an intense war – has lost its identity.Why it made this listThe hallmarks of gritty fantasy are all here: There's sex, violence and gruesome brutality, but what makes it an adult fiction is that nothing in the book is simple. Everything – even the Big Bad – can be explained when viewed from a different perspective. The heroes aren't Frodo-perfect; they're human. And they're capable of doing the worst kinds of things: They can be brutally violent, dispassionately calculating and selfishly ambitious.Other than being so well written, Gavriel Kay's refusal to categorize anything (or anyone) as purely good or evil is at the core of what makes it so special. It's possible to empathize with every character, because we can see ourselves in them – the good and the ugly. It's also a book about the subjugation of a group of people – something that 20 years later, is still an issue we grapple with every day. The best fantasy books are like this one, where the exploration of an issue in a different world exposes possibilities for understanding our own.The intense relationships in the book give us the opportunity to explore the theme of memory and loss for ourselves. It's also told using multiple perspectives, and with each point of view, readers are able to identify a different set of emotions, purposes and views – from inexperienced naiveté to long suffering cynicism.The book is perfectly balanced: The plot moves quickly enough to keep the action going without sacrificing the details of a well-built fantasy world. It's not a light fantasy book by any means and it can be an intense emotional ride, but it is worth it.

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More Books by Kay
Kay has written a good deal of fantasy and all of it's great. If you like the sheer emotion of Tigana, read Sailing to Sarantium . You should also give the The Summer Tree which is the first book in his The Fionavar Tapestry series -- Guy's take on Tolkien's epic fantasy. Expect trademark three dimensional characters and a meticulously drawn world. It's epic fantasy with a heart.

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