Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

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The Dragonbone Chair, first novel in the epic saga of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is a trilogy of epic fantasy novels by American writer Tad Williams, comprising The Dragonbone Chair (1988), Stone of Farewell (1990), and To Green Angel Tower (1993).

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn takes place on the fictional continent of Osten Ard, comprising several united countries. Williams used several characters, both protagonist and antagonist, as point of view characters throughout the novels, presenting the reader with an assortment of disparate and subjective viewpoints.

A novelette set in the world of Osten Ard, The Burning Man, was released in 1998 and later published as a graphic novel. A sequel trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard, began publication in 2017, following the 2017 interquel The Heart of What Was Lost. A prequel to the entirety of Osten Ard, The Shadow of Things to Come, is also expected to be published.[1]

Plot synopsis[edit]

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn takes place on the fictional continent of Osten Ard, home to several united races, including humans, elf-like immortals known as Sithi, and troll-like mountain-dwellers named Qanuc. Most of these races have been living in relative unity for decades, thanks to King John the Presbyter (also known as Prester John), who is known to have slain a dragon. The first novel opens when Prester John's health in his advanced age is failing and his sons, Elias and Josua, quarrel over whom will ascend to the throne. Meanwhile, a dark secret held by Prester John, and the ambitions of priest named Pryrates, threaten the stability of the continent. Williams used several characters, both villain and protagonist, as point of view characters throughout the scope of the novels.

The series primarily follows Simon, a lowly kitchen scullion in Hayholt Castle, as he undergoes tutelage from Doctor Morgenes and is cared for by Rachel "the Dragon", the matriarch of the castle's kitchen. As King John passes, Elias takes the throne, with the mysterious priest Pryrates as his advisor; Josua mysteriously disappears, and the seasons begin changing, bringing bitter winters and warm summers. Simon, ever the mischievous adventurer, accidentally uncovers some of Pryrates' true nature and becomes wrapped into a conspiracy that not only threatens his country of Erkynland, but Osten Ard itself.

Publication history[edit]

# Title Pages Chapters Words (est) Audio US release
1 The Dragonbone Chair 672[2] 44 288,695[3] 33h 53m October 1988[2]
2 Stone of Farewell 589[4] 28 282,750[5] 32h 36m August 1990[4]
3 To Green Angel Tower 1083[6] 60 550,275[7] 63h 15m March 1993[6]
Total 2,344 132 1,121,720 129h 44m

To Green Angel Tower's paperback edition is presented in two parts due to its sheer size, totaling nearly 1600 pages in length. Parts 1 & 2 were subtitled Siege and Storm, respectively, in their United Kingdom pressings.

Reception[edit]

A nationwide bestseller in the United States, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn was well received by book critics. Of Stone of Farewell, Locus called it "an epic fantasy you can get lost in for days, not just hours". Publishers Weekly said that Stone of Farewell is a "panoramic, vigorous, often moving sequel to The Dragonbone Chair". Of the series, Amaranth Magazine said, "This is quite simply the best story I have read next to LORD OF THE RINGS…destined to become among the greatest Fantasy epics of all time."

Legacy[edit]

American author George R. R. Martin was a large fan of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Martin has cited Williams' work as a key influence of his own epic high fantasy novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire.[8] American author Christopher Paolini, writer of the Inheritance Cycle, also cited Memory, Sorrow and Thorn as an influence, calling it "one of the great fantasy epics of all time."[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Williams, Tad. "Recent & Forthcoming - Tad Williams". tadwilliams.com. Retrieved 2018-03-19. 
  2. ^ a b "The Dragonbone Chair - Tad Williams". tadwilliams.com. Retrieved March 19, 2018. 
  3. ^ "The Dragonbone Chair: Book One of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn (Osten Ard)". Reading Length. Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  4. ^ a b "Stone of Farewell - Tad Williams". tadwilliams.com. Retrieved March 19, 2018. 
  5. ^ "Stone of Farewell: Book Two of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn (Osten Ard)". Reading Length. Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  6. ^ a b "The Dragonbone Chair - Tad Williams". tadwilliams.com. Retrieved March 19, 2018. 
  7. ^ "To Green Angel Tower: Book Three of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn (Osten Ard)". Reading Length. Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  8. ^ Barnett, David. "Tropes, trolls and Trump: the fantasy writer who inspired George RR Martin". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved March 19, 2018. 
  9. ^ Walsh, Alex (2014-04-04). "Tad Williams to release sequel to Memory, Sorrow & Thorn". Doitanyway.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-04-13.