Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

August 14, 2009

Tigana part 2 – Dianora

Filed under: rereading — Tags: , , , — Sam @ 10:45 pm

With this section, we get a new POV character – Dianora di Tigana Certando, Brandin of Ygrath’s favourite concubine – and a new map. This one’s purely political, without any more details; it shows us that Brandin of Ygrath has conquered four provinces (three on the mainland, and the island of Chiara, where this part is set), Alberico of Barbadior four, and the last one, Senzio, is neutral.

It is, of course, significant that Brandin’s made his headquarters on the island, separate from the rest of the Palm – and like most of the images in this book, it works both ways. The island’s separate, but it’s also surrounded by the ocean, and the ocean is the soul of Tigana. We learn, in fact, about the Grand Dukes of Chiara, and the Ring Dive – the Duke would throw a ring into the sea in token of a wedding, and a woman would dive for it to bring it back.

For that matter, Dianora was sent over the ocean, on a “Tribute Ship”, as a concubine for his saishan (seraglio), and became his favourite – and came to love him, despite having sworn to kill him. The saishan is attended by eunuchs, chief amongst whom is Vencel; he is “awesomely obese”, with a “dark face”. He’s from the hot northern land of Khardhun, and rather sympathetically presented. I’m assuming that the Khardhu are North Africans, Berbers perhaps. (This will become relevant later.)

In Chapter 8, we learn that Brandin ran up Sangarios, the mountain peak of Chiara, and there he encountered a riselka. I’m not sure what a Slavic water spirit is doing in an Italianate story, but it seems to work out. As we learn in more detail later, if one man sees a riselka, it’s a fork in his life; if two see a riselka together, one of them will die. If there are three, one is blessed; one comes to a fork; and one will die.

That afternoon sees an assassination attempt – the Ygrathen master-musician Isolla has manipulated Camena di Chiara, the most famous poet of the age, into shooting at Brandin under the guise of a threat to her. Dianora pushes someone else into the path of the crossbow bolt, reacting without thinking; Brandin would have died, otherwise.

He doesn’t send for her that night, and Dianora remembers her childhood in Tigana, in Avalle of the Towers, where the noble families competed to build the tallest tower until the Prince decreed that nothing could be taller than his own masterpiece. She grew up with her brother Baerd, and under the stress of the occupation they slept together for comfort – and who else would understand?

“What are we doing?” her brother whispered once. [...] “Oh, Baerd,” she’d said. “What has been done to us?”


  1. Nice series of posts you have going here. I’ve been re-reading all of GGK myself this year (postings here), although I’m on a bit of a break before I get back into him in the fall. Tigana isn’t my favorite of GGK’s novels, but I did like it a lot more on my recent re-read than I have in the past.

    Comment by Jaquandor — August 16, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

  2. Thank you! And thank you for the pointer – your posts are interesting. I’m fond of all his work, but have to ration my re-readings, because it’s strong heady stuff.

    Comment by Sam — August 17, 2009 @ 9:24 am

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