I decided to try a book by Guy Gavriel Kay because I read somewhere that he is a great historical novelist who disguises his books as fantasy. I read another book a long time ago but more recently picked up Tigana. Each of his books seems to have the setting and atmosphere of a different medieval European country, although they are set on other worlds. In this case, the country is Italy.
On a peninsula made up of nine provinces, the provinces have been conquered and divided up between two tyrant sorcerors, Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico of Barbadior. During one of the last battles, Brandin’s son was killed by Tiganian soldiers. As revenge, Brandin had the Tiganian prince’s family killed and cast a spell so that no one except those born in Tigana can remember its name. That is, I think, an interesting and original idea that has far-reaching effects.
Years later, a young singer named Devin falls in with a group of wandering musicians and learns from them that he is from Tigana, although he cannot remember, as his father took him away as a child. The group, lead by Alessan, the last prince of Tigana’s royal house, has been waging psychological warfare to free the province from both tyrants and revive the name of Tigana.
These novels are well written and rich in detail. Unlike Kay’s most famous work, The Fionavar Tapestry, which seems immature at times, it is more fully realized and mature.