She looked over at Scelto. Their eyes met. For a fleeting moment she was sorely tempted to confide in him, to make an ally of a friend. What could she say, though? How explain in the middle of a dawn corridor the dark night and the train of years that had led her here? (400)
It’s time for our bimonthly update for the Tigana Read-Along, hosted by the wonderful Memory of Stella Matutina. If you’re interested, we’ve already posted about “A Blade in the Soul“, “Dianora“, and “Ember to Ember“. Naturally, spoilers abound.
“The Price of Blood” opens with a decision—Brandin of Ygrath has, after an assassination attempt orchestrated by his Queen and heir in Ygrath, abdicated from that throne and declared himself King of the Western Palm—an area that includes Lower Corte, formerly Tigana. Alberico of Barbardior reacts to this announcement by marshaling troops—playing right into the rebellion’s hands. Devin, Alessan, and Erlein finally visit Lower Corte in order for Alessan to speak to his dying mother—the two haven’t seen each other in fourteen years—while Catriana, Baerd, and Sandre alert the faithful that the time for action has come at last.
The Long Path
In Doctor Who, the time-traveling Doctor is often befuddled by experiencing time linearly—time-traveling by taking “the long path” isn’t something Time Lords do; waiting around for hundreds of years isn’t their idea of proper time-travel (“The Girl in the Fireplace”). To my knowledge, it has only been done rarely in the Doctor Who universe, since it requires near-immortality; I think Captain Jack pulled it off in the second season of Torchwood, which I still haven’t seen.
In any case, I bring up the long path because “The Price of Blood” is the culmination of twenty years of planning for the rebellion, brought into stark contrast by the plight of Pasithea, Alessan’s mother. Pasithea has been secluded in the Lower Cortean Sanctuary of Eanna for nineteen years, posing as Melina bren Tonaro, a noble widow who committed suicide after Second Deisa, the battle that decided the first war against Ygrath. She’s been waiting for “[season] after season; shot birds falling from the sky” (458) and recently discovered that she’s terminally ill. It puts me in mind of Éowyn’s fear in The Lord of Rings of staying “behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire” (58). Although Pasithea has no glorious dreams of war, having lost her husband and two of her sons to it—Pasithea has, chillingly, watched her life pass by waiting for Alessan to come into his own, only for death to rob her of any agency she might derive from it. Ordinarily, I’d explore this under female power, but this extends to all genders in Tigana.
Rinaldo di Senzio, brother to the last Duke of Senzio, uncle to the current Governor, and a talented healer, has been in hiding for seventeen years and waiting for the strategic moment. It’s left ambiguous as to whether or not his sons even know their heritage, although we know his mate, Menna, doesn’t. Catriana tells a woman that it is time, and the woman kisses her, saying “I did not think I would live to see this day” (509). This focus on just how long it’s taken for the Tiganese rebellion to come to open war is deeply affecting, especially when combined with the freshly addressed issue of loyalty to the cause.
Family loyalty was brought up in “A Blade in the Soul”, but loyalty to the cause supersedes it in “The Price of Blood”. This is brought up explicitly when Sandre tells Catriana that she has “no idea … how dearly I wish you were of my blood” (514)—the statement gathers more meaning when you remember that Sandre’s family was betrayed by one of their own at the beginning of the novel.
This section also includes an attempted betrayal; despite the secrecy necessary for Alessan and Pasithea to even talk, Savandi, a priest, attempts to contact Brandin of Ygrath and inform him of their plans. What’s worse, Savandi is from Tigana, able to comprehend the name. But Pasithea finds further betrayal in the complications of Brandin’s abdication and self-styled ascension to King of the Western Palm—with the lessening of the brutal taxes Lower Corte has had to suffer and the removal of the threat of Alberico, the Lower Corteans are, as Pasithea puts it, “singing the Tyrant’s name in the streets of Avalle” (481). While Alessan sees this as a remarkable opportunity for the rebellion, it also puts into perspective the fact that the rebellion, despite being nominally about restoring Tigana, is actually about creating self-rule for the Palm. Mmm, complexity.
I think that’s quite enough for today! Check back here on April 20th for my thoughts on “The Memory of a Flame”.
- Kay, Guy Gavriel. Tigana. New York: Penguin Books, 1990. Print.
- “The Girl in the Fireplace”. Doctor Who: The Complete Second Series. Writ. Steven Moffat. Dir. Euros Lyn. The Sci-Fi Channel, 2006. DVD.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. The Return of the King. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1966. Print.