Hello Book Friends!
Today I am going to attempt to motivate you into reading Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorry and Thorn books. There will be a few points and an overview that hopefully will inspire you to read this phenomenal series!!!
A brief overview
After the death of the high King John Presbyter and the rise of the Mad king Elias, who with the influence of the Dark Priest Pyrates, have damned the world , together they have made an ungodly pact with the dark prince, known as the Storm king. Seoman our main protagonist has no choice but to flee his home and join the rebellion lead by the Mad kings brother Josua Lackhand in city of Nagilmund. Under the dark Priests magic all of the nations within this world are plunged into the depths of chaos!! You will follow the characters experience of losing the world that they once knew….. With only the prophecy of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn as their only path to salvation.
You can also check it out on Goodreads HERE! Maybe add it to your TBR.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT…
This book has been quoted as one of the seminal works within epic fantasy genre, from the same era as Robert Jordan, Robin Hobb, Raymond E Fiest, amongst other gifted authors. After reading most of the big names from the era I have to say that Tad Williams is without question a Titan of the fantasy genre. As I was reading through the first novel I understood the reasons why Tad Williams work was so influential and recognising those small nuances and themes that have transcended into what we love and appreciate today!!
This series from my perspective inspired the likes of John Gwynne, Anthony Ryan, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss George R R Martin and more recent authors such as Brian Lee Durfee.
Every aspect of this novel is deeply captivating , down to the flawless prose, the deeply immersive world building which unravels with each chapter that passes, the complex character progression and the constant feeling of intrigue throughout is overwhelming!! It is without question a very character driven novel and you will become very attached to the totally unforgettable cast. You can get lost travelling through beautifully imagined dark forests scenes , stunning cities all the while going deeper into rich lore and history , which is totally enchanting and central to this series!
Tad Williams is a writer that has without question mastered his craft, everything in this series has been forged at the hands of a master story teller which you’ll see in the flawless execution.
For me this is a stand out series from that era and I will be reading the follow up series’ set 30 years after the events of this series, which is the Last King of Osten Ard and all the series that follow in this world. I am currently reading the last installment (MST), a chonky 1400 page monster, which has already convinced me that this series will in doubt be in my top 5 of all time.
Has this book aged well?
Absolutely yes! It is timeless and should be treasured as a significant mile stone in the Fantasy’s history. It really lays the foundations for where epic fantasy was heading and how it was evolving. So what I’m saying is this series should by future generations be regarded in the same way as Tolkien is, in my opinion. We should appreciate it in terms of how it’s impacted the fantasy genre!!!
Here are some of the other wonderful works By the master of epic fantasy Tad Williams…
OK, SO IT’S HUGE TRILOGY…Is it worth it? How does it compare to other series from that era?
I would say that if you’re daunted by the size of other series from this era like Robert Jordans Wheel of Time, I think you will have a comparable experience with this series. I would argue that despite this only being a trilogy, I feel that Tad Williams has achieved as much as Jordan/Sanderson did in a 15 book series. I am not saying that it’s better, as I think everyone should read Jordan,but this series stands shoulder to shoulder in terms of its brilliance, if not surpassing Jordan in some aspects. The pacing in MST is as sharp as Williams prose and as I mentioned earlier, its utterly flawless and totally poetic at times and he paints some scenes with total precision. In my opinion Tad Williams is the better writer and will not spend two paragraphs describing the pattern on a member of the Aes sedai dress lol. But the technical execution of this series in comparison to Jordan, is superior in my opinion. Williams world building and the general pacing and overall the consistency in quality is as close to perfect as you’re going to get. I feel this is why Williams Memory, Sorrow and Thorn wins the day. But it’s important to say that I have huge praise for Jordan in so many respects.
This is the perfect introduction to epic Fantasy from this era! That said even if you’re an experienced fantasy reader this will make you remember why you fell in love with this genre!!
If you have it already on the shelf, then I recommend turning to chapter 33, that chapter alone will sell this book to you if nothing else will !!
LET US TALK ABOUT THE TONE…
There is an over bearing sense of hopelessness, with an atmospheric feeling of an encroaching darkness just adds such depth to this epic tale!! With King Elias falling deeper into madness, with Pyrates working as the architect for this worlds destruction, his use of dark magic dominates, the fate of Osten Ard is seemingly doomed and you’re witness to the horror that is to follow. With this first instalment you’re very aware that you’re on the doorstop of something very special and so the journey begins….. Hope of the rebellion is founded in the prophecy surrounding the three swords, Sorrow memory and Thorn which will be there only chances against the forces of evil.
ON TO THE CHARACTERS…
So our main protagonist Seoman is your typical orphaned scullion working under the watchful eye of his merciless overlord Rachel the Dragon, you follow his misadventures in Hayholt castle in a typical coming of age style beginning. What Williams does to engage you as reader with this character is he provokes those childhood memories of a time of innocence in your life as a kid, which really engages you on an intimate level and helps you to connect with Simon very quickly. As much as Seoman is idle, he is head strong and like all young boys has grandiose dreams of a heroic future!
Resident wizard/ doctor Morgenes is eccentric, wise and hilarious , but his true purpose within Hayholt is shrouded in mystery…. So as you may of guessed already, he takes the wayward Seoman as his apprentice….
So on to the High King Elias who you’ll come to know, and as I call him the Mad king, who is in the grasps of the dark priest Pyrates and has been lead into a world of corruption, his lust for power threatens to destroy the lives of many.
His brother Josua, the brooding intellectual sibling, the brother that is to lead the rebellion and have the courage an honour to fight against his foes, against all odds and save the world from damnation! He is pitched as one of the potential heros and savior if this tale!
Finally Pyrates quite possibly one of the finely crafted villains that I’ve encountered in the fantasy genre. His history in this series, his becoming,is probably the slowest in terms of progression, that I feel is very much intentional, but his dark grasp on the Mad king is clear. His very presence within Hayholt is an omen for the horror that is to follow!
So those are you main characters, but there is a huge unforgettable cast that you will come to know and love, hate and fear as go through this novel! There are major characters who take center stage as you go deeper into this story and Williams solid characterisation will never cease to draw you into this phenomenal journey !!
You will find heavy influences of polythiestic and monotheistic religions that strongly influence the various human races within this world on a societal level and down to the characters own lived experience adding more depth to what motivates them.
The politics are generally very typical of a medieval world and isn’t hard to understand the hierarchy of each society. There are very clear Nordic (Rimmersmen), Huns/ Asian Nomadic( Thrithings) and western European Anglo Saxon (Erkynlanders). As for the Nabanese there are clear Roman/Italian with heavy Catholic influences. As far as the mortal races are concerned, it’s been said that they take influences from Japanese culture. The Lore and history of this world does take some influence from Norse mythology, especially where the immortal races are concerned.
You will be introduced to immortal races more as you get into the series, but just to note the following, are central to plot the most important being the immortal Sithi, The Norns, The Niskies, Quanuc and the Dwarrows (Tinukeda’ya) The sheer scope of the lore within this series is so huge and drawn out slowly and we are just scratching the surface in MST.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post hopefully you know more on why you should be reading The Dragonbone Chair if you haven’t already!
Have you read The Dragonbone Chair? If so let me know in the comments what you thought of it or head on over to Twitter. Looking forward to hearing from you!!