Oh, Tigana... there seems to be so much to say about this book!
Tigana reminds me of a good bottle of wine. After a few sips, you begin to realize that the flavor is much more complex than you originally thought. Then, you just can't get yourself to stop drinking it, until the next thing you know, you're completely soused.
So, bad analogies aside (I'm glad we got that out of the way early!), if I had to use one word to describe this book, it would be "depth." The characters are not black and white but very (*very*) gray, the events that drive on the plot are an intricately woven web of cause-and-effect, the world-building has incredible detail despite the fact that we only get to know a morsel of it (the Palm), and even the prose itself is luxurious.
And all of this depth was exactly why I loved Tigana. A conversation with a character in an early chapter that seems like nothing more than a tangent at the time might eventually turn into the catalyst for a greater event. Even something that seems innocuous might end up having a profound effect on the story later on. With that said, it was somewhat frustrating to have no idea what was going on in the Prologue and Chapter 1, until having the context of later chapters. Upon re-reading those chapters, they seem brilliant, but should the reader be required or expected to re-read?
Ultimately, though, the true strength of this book lies in its characters - oh, the characters. I loved that I felt the same struggle as Dianora did, and even felt it *with* her, about whether to care for Brandin or want him dead. I loved that the protagonists made morally questionable decisions that made me dislike them at times. I loved that by the end of the book, I was rooting for someone who I probably wasn't supposed to root for. I loved that I didn't always agree with everything a character said or did, but I was always deeply invested in them. My only gripe with regard to characterization was the handling of romantic relationships. With the exception of one (and I'm sure you can guess which one I mean), the romantic relationships in the book seemed mostly unconvincing and unnecessary.
As for the prose, I can see why people go on and on about the beauty of GGK's writing style. I will say that 95% of the time I agree with this, but at other times (perhaps the very few times in which the story is dragging), what was once beautiful now seems nothing but ornate.
Still, I cant wait to read more GGK after reading Tigana. It's almost a shame that this is a stand-alone and not a series, because GGK created so many possibilities with so much world left to explore. I am dying to know what the Empire is like, considering that Alberico was only a minor lord there and yet he wields such tremendous power. I'd truly enjoy a story that took place in Barbadior or Ygrath or Khardun, and thus learn more about those realms. However, at the same time, I'm glad there is no sequel, so that I can simmer on some of the book's ambiguities.
Yes, there will be ambiguities, and yes, there will also be some twists. Perhaps they are more "bombs" than "twists," but GGK definitely enjoys throwing a handful of "Oh, snap!" moments at the reader.
Keep in mind, though, that Tigana is by no means perfect. There were times that I couldn't put the book down, and other times when I felt myself slow to pick it back up. But, it's the kind of book that will stay with me for a long time after I've finished reading it, and that I'm sure I will want to read again sometime in the future.