Wednesday, 23 July 2008

From my bookshelf… ‘Memory, Sorrow and Thorn’ (Tad Williams)

‘The Dragonbone Chair’
‘The Stone of Farewell’
‘To Green Angel Tower: Siege’
‘To Green Angel Tower: Storm’

I’ve gone on about this series so much, in other posts, that I think it now deserves a thread all to itself!

It was way back in 1989 that I found a copy of ‘The Dragonbone Chair’ while trying to find something decent to spend my book token on; I’d heard some good things about it so figured I’d give it a go… The first hundred pages, or so, were really hard going with detailed description about life in a castle and introductions to a plethora of characters, I stuck with it though and the payoff came much sooner than I had expected.
Betrayal! Strange creatures carrying out human sacrifices! More strange creatures swarming out of the ground to attack unsuspecting soldiers! Giants! A castle destroyed by magic! A dragon! This was more like it. I was totally gripped by the story that was playing out and, as I mentioned a few posts ago, ‘The Dragonbone Chair’ was the first fantasy book to show me that things don’t always go the way they’re expected to.
But then came the downer… Not only did I finish the book but I then found out that the sequel was still being written. For the first time ever I had to cope with the fact that I was into a series that was still ‘in progress’ and hadn’t been completed.

Two years later…

It’s Christmas Day and I’ve finally got my hands on ‘The Stone of Farewell’, as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter what’s on the television as I’m just glad to get back into the world of Osten Ard and find out what has been happening to Simon Snowlock and his friends. It’s just as good as the first time round but I’m finding that the more of the world I get to see the more questions there are that need answering. I’ve also got used to the fact that ‘The Stone of Farewell’ will end on another cliffhanger and I’ll have to wait another couple of years to see how it ends. I was right on both counts; a character comes back from the dead (that still gets me whenever I read it) and that’s how it ends. Time to settle down for another long wait. Having said that though, these days I’m able to wait twice as long (at least) for the latest from GRRM!

If waiting for ‘To Green Angel Tower’ wasn’t bad enough I then found that, due to the publishers ‘wanting to put a good product on the shelves’ (so, nothing to do with making more money then…), I was going to have to wait even longer for a book that was being published in two parts! Damn them…
I got there in the end though, a slightly off key ending (a series that questioned certain fantasy tropes fully adopted one of the biggest ones of all) but overall a great series that has certainly inspired George RR Martin in his own fantasy series.

‘Memory, Sorrow and Thorn’ looks just a little bit dated when placed against some of the edgier works of today but is a series that will always have some charm as far as I’m concerned. It’s a series that will always occupy one of the more prominent spots on my bookshelves and gets a re-read at least every couple of years. If you’re a fan of epic/high fantasy, and you haven’t tried this series out, then you could do a lot worse than give it a go…


Peta said...

This series was my "proper" introduction to SFF books and what a great one it was too. I remember devouring the first two then realising that I would have to wait a year to read the last instalment. Then realising that I'd have to fork out for two books but the money was worth it. I was just kicking my younger self for not borrowing the hardback edition from the library a year earlier but then I remembered it burned down around that time so perhaps that's why!

I read the whole series in the summer of 1994 on a family holiday to Austria and I can't think of To Green Angel Tower without picturing myself lying in the sun on the overgrown lawn and refusing to take part in any family activities until I'd finished. I remember that the sun melted the spine glue but the books just about held out intact. Happy days!

Anonymous said...

I bought To Green Angel Tower when it first came out and it was just one book. I remember seeing it split into two volumes in the stores but the copy I still have is just one.

now I'm going to have to dig it up and see what's what.

Tara said...

this series by Tad Williams is extremely popular, I normally see it in bookstores in my area.

I know alot of friends and myself who really love this series.

Hope Tad gets a hint to read your post:)


weariedjuggler said...

Holy Smokes! I cannot believe how much I'm enjoying this series. I'm most way through To Green Angel Tower, and I keep jumping up and down... Sometimes I want to curse this man for being such a damn tease in his writing. Ha thx for the extra push Graeme, I'm having a grand time.

Anonymous said...

Had these for a while ... blimey, another four fat ones to put on the TBR soon pile

Juqu said...

This was first whole fantasy series that I read.
it has good story but I remember cursing the writer for milking the cow, so little happened in each book.
only later I found out that It was the Finnish publisher who divided trilogy in 12 parts.