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The Dragonbone Chair: Memory, Sorrow and Thorne Series: Book One (Memory, Sorrow & Thorn) Paperback – 4 Jun 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Paperback, 4 Jun 2009
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Product details

  • Paperback: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; Reprint edition (4 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841498394
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841498393
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 4.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Former singer, shoe-seller and radio show host, Tad Williams is now a full-time writer. His Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series established him as one of the most internationally popular fantasy authors of recent years.

Product Description


I was rarely held so captive by a novel...Williams is our Tolkien (Fear)

Epic fantasy you can get lost in for days, not just hours (Locus)

Tad Williams proves himself as adept at writing science fiction as he is at writing fantasy. Best of all, however, are Williams's well-drawn sympathetic characters . . . (Publishers Weekly)

Williams must be considered one of the most accomplished writers in contemporary fantasy... (Xignals)

Book Description

The first book in the epic Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, reissued with a stunning new cover.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
not really. I mean, Tad Williams' 3/4 volume saga is truly engaging, especially once you get to the final volume. Unfortunately, for the first two books, you really do spend a great portion of your time screaming blue murder at Simon, knowing that even in the end, he'll most likely still consider himself a bloody Mooncalf.

No, what really got me through all three (four?) volumes was realising early on that this book was released in 1991, and George R.R. Martin didn't get around to releasing A Game of Thrones until 1996. I realise that one should be flattered to be copied, but the level of plagiarism exhibited by Martin borders on the obscene. Red comet heralding impending doom? Check. Hand of the King? Check. White Walkers? Sorry, White Foxes? Check. A devastating winter descending from the North? Check. The list goes on...

Don't get me wrong. I love Ice and Fire. GM has delivered on the promise of what Memory, Sorrow & Thorn could've been. With swearing. And nudity. And a unique point-of-view literary device which keeps the reader guessing what'll come next. But Tad Williams deserves immeasurable credit for creating such a grand beginning, middle and end. For me, I just wanted loads more chapters focusing on every other character.

And it's worth it just for Simon and the Wheel...
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Format: Paperback
Though the paperback weighs in at 766 pages of text I wasn't bored or plodding through the story at all--rather I was racing towards the end, hoping that it would never come. Williams has crafted a fine tale set in a believable world. Follow the adventures of Simon (originally Seoman) the castle scullion. He lives in the Hayholt, capital castle for King John the Presbyter, High King of Osten Ard. Unfortunately King John is dying and his son Elias will inhereit the throne--however, not all is well with Elias and Pryrates, his mysterious counselor. Simon is thrust unwillingly into these tumultuous times and has to make the best of it.
Simon is definately the main character of the volume, yet as the story progresses you are introduced to a host of other characters and occasionally you'll see chapters and scenes from their perspective. Really everything weaves together in a tale that holds the imagination and attention while leaving you in anticipation of the next volume. I was also appreciative that the story stayed believable without falling into too many "fantasy cliches," and because of its length the development could go slowly (but not too slowly)--that is to say many things on the back cover weren't revealed for several hundred pages, :-). Don't expect to see characters who've never fought before suddenly wield a sword like an expert and become the kingdom's champion--Williams is more realistic than that, ;-).
The different cultures are well thoughtout, and the history of the world is anything but stagnant or "stuck in the Middle Ages." Rather there is a real sense of history and the rise and fall of nations. Don't expect to find a "typical fantasy" with humans, elves, and dwarves.
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Format: Paperback
The title says it all. In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Tad Williams delivers all the classic elements of fantasy, so freshly brought together with a beautiful narrative and loveable characters that I felt like I was rediscovering everything I loved about fantasy. The Dragonbone Chair is the first book in this trilogy, and as other reviewers have mentioned, the beginning is slow paced, taking 150-200 pages for the story to really get started. But once you've gotten past those first initial and essential chapters, you will find it hard to put down the book. In fact, if you are thinking of buying the Dragonbone Chair, I recommend that you buy the Stone of Farewell, To Green Angel Tower: Siege, and To Green Angel Tower: Storm (the 3 other books of the series) as well, in order to prevent any frustration you may feel when you put down Dragonbone Chair and realize that you just need to read the rest.

In other words, if you are looking for a series of epic fantasy with history, magic, dragons, mystery, a rich and complex plotline, and characters that you can laugh and cry with, then don't hesitate. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn will meet all your expectations and more. Best read I've had since I discovered the Lord of the Rings when I was a wee lad of 9.
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Format: Paperback
Not the most encouraging title for a review, perhaps, but the most apt I can think of. I'll explain shortly.

The plot has been well summarised by others here, so I won't waste your time repeating it, except to say that this is pretty much your standard tale of reluctant young hero taking on a dangerous mission for the good of the world. If that sounds formulaic, that's because it is, but fortunately this story is in the hands of Tad Williams, a writer who could write about tax law and come up with something enjoyable to read.

The length and pacing of the book have presented problems for some, here and on the American Amazon. Unlike the one-star "i red one page and got board" (sic) reviews given by some to bestselling thrillers, it's fair to assume that most people who take on a 700-page fantasy novel are serious readers and so their opinions are worth listening to. Length and slow pacing also figure in the comments by readers who clearly loved the book, so it is obviously an issue which should be drawn to the attention of the potential reader.

I found the book slow, maddeningly so, at times in the early stages. There were even times when I wondered whether to carry on. I am very glad that I did. As I read on, I found myself warming to the characters, the story, the fantasy world Williams creates and even the slow-paced style. The pace does speed up at the end, or perhaps it appeared to as I got more involved, and when I reached the end I felt as if I'd lived through a moving, epic and above all worthwhile experience. It was a bit like how I feel at the end of a performance of Wagner's Ring - those who appreciate that wonderful work will know what I mean.
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