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The Very Best of Tad Williams [Kindle Edition]

Tad Williams

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Book Description

Within these pages you will find such delightful and curious things as a strange storytelling vampire, two woefully-overmatched angels, a dragon in cahoots with a knight and a witch, an ineptly duplicitous fish, the loyal robot butler of Werner Von Secondstage Booster, and the Greatest Wizard of All (disputed).

From his epic fantasy series, including Memory Sorrow and Thorn—which George R. R. Martin cited as an inspiration for Game of Thrones—to the classic novel Tailchaser’s Song, Tad Williams has mastered every genre he has set his pen to. Here are the stories that showcase the exhilarating breadth of Williams’ imagination, hearkening back to such classic fantasists as J. R. R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Peter S. Beagle, and beyond. Whether you are a devoted reader of his longer works, already a devotee of his short fiction, or even new to his writing entirely, The Very Best of Tad Williams is the perfect place to discover one of the most talented and versatile authors writing at any length today.

Product Description


[STARRED REVIEW] "This marvelous short fiction retrospective testifies to the breadth of Williams's creativity. All but one of these 17 otherworldly tales have appeared in magazines or anthologies, but fans will welcome the chance to have them all in one place. Several of the earlier pieces are particularly charming, including "The Old Scale Game," with its thoroughly modern monsters, and "Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air", a chortling version of the book of Genesis. Williams effectively portrays poignant human regrets and longings in "Three Duets for Virgin and Nosehorn," a miniature masterpiece, and explores the paradoxes of religious belief in "The Stranger's Hands" and "And Ministers of Grace." "A Stark and Wormy Knight," a linguistic tour de force, shows without one misplaced word just how clever dragons can be. Williams's sensitivity to atmosphere and trademark attention to telling detail shine through most of the selections in this varied collection of little gems." --Publishers Weekly "Throughout this collection Williams ably demonstrates that he is a jack of all trades -- and their master as well." --Interzone "Obviously fans of Tad Williams will enjoy this, but then anyone with a sense of humour, a love of the unknown and anyone that enjoys a good tale should benefit from these stories." --Fantasy Book Review "An essential addition to the bookshelf for fans of Tad Williams and also a great opportunity for new readers to sample the breadth of his storytelling prowess." --SF Signal "Obviously, Williams' many fans will eat this up. However, those who have been thinking about reading some of his work but have been hesitating will find this book a great indoctrination..." --January Magazine "Of the far too many authors cramming the fantasy field with seemingly endless series, only a few are genuinely worthy of our time. Very Best of Tad Williams proves that he is among this select company, and may also cause some to drastically re-evaluate the talents of this prolific and popular author, and discover his other equally satisfying works." --Bookgasm "Williams does a masterful job at writing epic storylines. So I wasn't sure how this was going to work out. And it was great." --Bookstooge "well written and fun" --Drunken Dragon "For readers unfamiliar with Tad Williams' writing, this may be the perfect springboard, as opposed to launching into epic fantasies, or even series of any sort. One of the more surprising books I've had the pleasure of reading this year, and I say that in spite of the fact that I was already a huge fan of Williams' work." --The Cover Contessa

About the Author

Tad Williams is a bestselling fantasy author whose works include Tailchaser's Song; The War of the Flowers; Caliban's Hour; and series novels including Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn; and Otherland. He is also the author of the comic miniseries, Next published by DC Comics. He lives in Soquel, California.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 737 KB
  • Print Length: 434 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1616961376
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications (13 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J75N4T8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,993 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Very Best of Tad Williams 4 May 2014
By Cervantes - Published on
There is something just so unexplainably wonderful about a Tad Williams book. I began my list of Tad Williams reads years ago with the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, and ever since have been consistently enthralled by each book he writes. There is a pattern here.

Each time I come across one of his new books I am anxious to see its release.

Then, there is this bizarre moment of shock when I see he's gone somewhere completely new. Will this book be as good as his others? Can he tackle Sci-Fi like he has Fantasy, or Children's books or short stories? Tad never lets the reader down, never falters in creating works that are amazingly enjoyable to the mind.

Here we have a compilation of Tad's short works that are enthrallingly done. And what I love about this book is the fact that we also get bits of his various different genre endeavors all rolled together in one fantastic package. Well worth the coin paid and full of Tad's consistant wit.

My advice is to purchase all Tad Williams' works you come across! I cannot recommend them enough!

Have an amazing read!

- Scott J. Toney
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tad Williams is an author I’ve been meaning to try for a long time 27 Jun. 2014
By Miss Stubbs - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Tad Williams is an author I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. I own most of his books and they look pretty fantastic on my shelves, but I haven’t yet actually started one of his novels. I think this comes under what I was talking of earlier – finding a book I know I’ll love, and then hoarding it away and now it’s mine and I can move on to collect other books!

But when I saw this anthology I thought it would be an excellent way to get into his work more so I can get so hungry for his work I get into the books finally. I’ve seen his work in a few anthologies so far, but reading a collection instead seemed the better way into it.

As it’s a collection, it’s probably better to review each short individually, as is my usual way:

The Old Scale Game

A very strong start to this collection – a dragon slayer and a dragon who team up to con villages of their gold. Dragon shows up -village is scared – slayer turns up and ‘vanquishes’ the dragon – villagers cheer and pay the slayer – slayer later meets up again with the dragon and they continue on their merry way.

This is a short I first read in Unfettered, an anthology edited by Shawn Speakman, and one of the reasons I knew I had to start reading Tad Williams’ work sooner rather than later. The tone in this short, with the characters and their voice is just delightful. One of my favourites by Tad.

The Storm Door

A paranormal investigator goes to visit his Uncle while a storm is brewing, fittingly having to travel to a tall, spooky house to do so.

A surprisingly sad tale, for one that seems to start out with a different direction. A very fitting ending, and surprisingly short all around. This short took me by surprise in numerous ways (as you can tell from how many times I’ve used the word!) and I like the short all the more because of it.

First published in ‘The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology’ edited by Christopher Golden

The Stranger’s Hands

A seemingly dimwitted man and his friend appear near a small town one day, and it quickly seems the dimwit can grant ones’ true desire… sometimes. Regardless, for those he can grant it seems like an amazing act of God, but turns out that there may be more behind this…

Quite predictable but very fun to read – the characters feel so real in this, and you get an instant sense of place as you do in ‘The Old Scale Game’, you could almost think they’re set in the same world. Highly enjoyable.

First published in ‘Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy’ edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois.

Child of an Ancient City

A group of merchants are travelling, exchanging their stories and such when they encounter a being seemingly from one of their own tales – a vampyr.

Whilst engaging and excellent, this isn’t my favourite so far. It does an excellent job of capturing the mood of the setting as well as the terror of the men, but I’m exhausted by vampyr/vampire tales. This does vampires well for sure, but I prefer his other topics.

First published in ‘Weird Tales’ magazine, Fall 1988.

The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story

Oz. But with field dispatches and world jumpers.

I’m not really one for Oz tales, but this one gripped me from start to finish, and I’d love to hear what Oz fans think of it. If anyone’s read Dorothy Must Die, please read this and tell me what you think?

First published in ‘Oz Reimagined: New Tales from The Emerald City and Beyond’ edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen.

Three Duets for Virgin and Nosehorn

A seemingly innocent and handsome artist stays in a tavern, and manages to convince the old maid in charge to allow him to draw a young serving girl. In exchange, the artist tells the young serving girl a tale in three parts, spellbounding both girl and reader alike.

I loved this tale, it juxtaposed both perfectly taking you between settings at exactly the right moment. Again, Tad has the perfect ending for this short, which only makes me realise just how pointless and rushed other short endings are.

First published in ‘Immortal Unicorn’ edited by Peter S. Beagle

Not with a Whimper, Either

Told in chat layout, we see members of a fiction chat channel slowly realise that something is going wrong in the world, until we’re left with only one user – ‘Wiseguy’, who then chats with the ‘Moderator’.

It’s chilling to see realistic reactions to a world disaster – this is the kind of world we live in now. Possibly one of my favourites from how it’s handled, and how chilling the beginning is. I can read horror novels quite comfortably – it’s this kind of realism with the dawning realisation of The End which gets me unnerved.

First published in ‘DAW 30th Anniversary: Science Fiction’ edited by Sheila E. Gilbert.

Some Thoughts Re: Dark Destroyer

Told in email format, Edward is providing feedback to Richard, writing on behalf of a group of a handful of others who have all tested Richard’s ‘Dark Destroyer #1′ seeming both adult with his delivery of crafted criticism and then seeming childish by signing off by saying ‘Let’s do lunch. I hear it’s Sloppy Joes.’ – Brilliant!

First published in ‘Subterranean’ magazine, Issue #5.

Z is for…

A man awakes at a party – perhaps – he thinks he’s drunk so much he can hardly remember. His head feels like the white claggy glue that dries with a sticky skin on top but lasts wet underneath always. He stumbled around, trying to figure out why something like Zebras remains an important thought in his mind…

An amusing tale that captures the confusion of waking with a hangover with something else regarding lose of thought and facilities to the same degree.

First published in ‘Midnight Zoo’ magazine, May/June 1991.

Monsieur Vergalant’s Canard

Two brothers who have a wonderful creation – even though something else is far more marvellous.

A clever, very short little piece that had me smiling.

First published in ‘The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’ September 1995.

The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of

A young woman visits an out-of-work magician about an old friend of his, another magician who happens to be her father, and now, sadly, deceased. An accident they say, or perhaps suicide… but she thinks it’s murder.

Fun to read. Sassy female characters are always a bonus. Through in magic and an amusing end that ties up all loose plot strands and you have a winner, here.

First published in ‘Beyond Imagination’ edited by David Copperfield.

Fish Between Friends

One time there was a cat, a raven, and a man with no ears. They were all friends and lived together in a house by the river. (Taken directly from the start of the piece, because, well, what else can be said here?)

A short, neat little tale.

First published in ‘Rite: Short Work’ published by Subterranean Press.

Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air

Angels are building the new Earth, but are running into trouble and falling behind schedule. A lot of these shorts have religious undertones, but this one certainly has more than just an undertone to it…

Quite odd in all, and that’s what makes it good. It’s a trope that’s been done before, but it’s done in good fun and good to skim-read. Not one of my favourites in the collection, but not disappointing by any means.

First published in ‘Rip-Off!’ edited by Gardner Dozois.

A Stark and Wormy Knight

A little bubby dragon wants a story from his mam to help him sleep. As always, Tad excels in writing accents and cadences of words without it being jarring or annoying in any way, one of his strengths in writing.

Another I’ve read earlier, and another that fits in perfectly well with ‘The Old Scale Game’ and ‘The Stranger’s Hands’ which I think are my favourite overall. The language is what is fun in these shorts, with lively characters that make you smile, and stable genre-building bits and pieces that really build up dragon lore.

First published in ‘The Dragon Book’ edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois.

Omnitron, What Ho

Werner Von Secondstage Booster is ordered by his Aunt Jabbatha to fetch his cousin back from the arms of a floozy not even close to be worth their family’s name or blood. She also sends along her butler, Omnitron, to assist. As Booster is a bit of a dimwit, Omnitron will surely be needed.

A good ol’ hat tip to Jeeves and Wooster throughout. Aunt Agatha – Jabbatha (though I was imagining Jabba the Hutt throughout). Booster – Wooster. Jeeves – …Omni…tron… Yes. Throughout this is a bit of rollicking good fun, with a decent ending that is slightly unexpected but wholly right and in true Jeeves and Wooster fashion. Highly enjoyable.

This short was original to the collection

Black Sunshine

Written in script form this time, we have a horror story set in 1976 but also cutting to the present to show the consequences of what four teenagers did. Put simply, this is a tale all should read before any attempts to sample acid.

This is another horror story that’s managed to shake me slightly. Very effective, and very emotive.

First published in ‘A Stark and Wormy Knight’ published by Subterranean Press.

And Ministers of Grace

Lamentation Kane thinks he’s the hand of God – it doesn’t help that he’s also an enhanced human being. One can only guess what kind of tale we’re in for, when told than Kane is on a mission to kill the leader of a world that rejects religion.

Tad Williams has mentioned a few times now that he’s been thinking about writing an series in which Lamentation Kane will be a main character. More to see here, perhaps. Though that was a few years ago.

First published in ‘Warriors’ edited by Gardner Dozios and George R. R. Martin.


Overall, a very enjoyable collection with most shorts earning a four or a five out of five from me. They work and fit together very well, with most having religious overtones, and cleverly taking tropes or well worn steps in fantasy and using them to their strengths.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid collection does a nice job of exposing new facets of Williams' literary character 18 May 2014
By Bob Milne - Published on
It's very strange. I've been a Tad Williams fan since the early 90s, when I first encountered (and subsequently devoured) his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn saga. I was absolutely blown away by the size and scope of the story, the complexities of the characters, and the depth of the mythology. I dabbled in the Otherland books, but never really got hooked, and I loved the Shadowmarch saga, although I still have 1 book left to read.

Maybe it's because I'm so enamored with him on that large scale that I've never really dabbled in his short stories, so there was a definite appeal in picking up The Very Best of Tad Williams for review. There were a handful of tales here that simply didn't work for me - 'And Ministers of Grace' was a tad too religious, while 'Black Sunshine' and 'Not with a Whimper, Either' were written in a style I didn't care for - there were also some very pleasant surprises.

'The Old Scale Game' is a great kick-off to the collection, with a con run by dragon and dragon slayer quickly getting out of control. It's quick, it's clever, and it's very funny. By contrast, 'The Storm Door' is a very dark sort of hard-boiled detective tale with a paranormal edge . . . and an ending I didn't expect, but which works beautifully.

We get lighter again with 'The Stranger’s Hands,' in which the darkest of magicians is caught masquerading as a miracle worker, while 'Child of an Ancient City' once again turns the tables on us, taking an Arabian Nights sort of approach to a mountain flight from old-school vampyrs. 'The Boy Detective of Oz' is an Otherland story that I really liked, which may put that saga back on my to-read list, in which Williams really has fun playing with the mythology of L. Frank Baum's world.

A very strange, but very strong story, 'Three Duets for Virgin and Nosehorn' is a sort of historical morality tale featuring a virgin beauty, a painter, a priest, a princess, and a (ahem) rhinocerous. Yes, rhinocerous. Nosehorn. Get it? Turning our attention from rhinos to zebras, 'Z is for...' examines the aftermath of a party, and the confusion of a hangover.

'Monsieur Vergalant’s Canard' is another odd one that I really can't explain, although it did leave me suitably amused. 'The Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of' brings us back to the realm of hard-boiled detectives, this time centered around the murder/suicide of a famous magician, while 'A Fish Between Three Friends' is a short, but lively sort of fairy tale fable.

'Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air' is another religious themed tale, but this one worked for me because of its earnest absurdity. 'A Stark and Wormy Knight' is the one story I had read before, and it is just as funny and entertaining the second time around, particularly with is play of language. Finally, oddly meshing pulp fantasy and space opera, 'Omnitron, What Ho!' is a very funny tale about a young man and his robot, sent by his elders to prevent a marriage.

All-in-all, a solid collection of stories that does a nice job of opening up some new facets of Williams literary character. Even with the few that didn't work, The Very Best of Tad Williams is a better collection than most authors could ever hope to produce.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Range, Astounding Stories 16 May 2014
By the_goddess_isis - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I would like to thank NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for granting me the opportunity to read this wonderful collection of Tad William's short stories. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review.

<blockquote>This career retrospective from one of the most-beloved authors in the fantasy genre is essential for fans of his internationally best-selling series novels (Otherland; Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn).

Tad Williams has achieved success in multiple genres and forms, whether in epic fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, or young adult fiction. Readers only familiar with such masterpieces as The Dragonbone Chair and Talchaser’s Song will be delighted to discover that in his short fiction, Williams has been able to explore myriad new possibilities and adventures.

Previously collected in multiauthor anthologies and limited hardcover editions, these superlative talks of dragons, super-soldiers, wizards, cyberpunks, heroes, and fools are now available together for the first time in an affordable trade paperback edition. These stories showcase the exhilarating breadth of Williams’ imagination, in stories hearkening to the tales of such classic fantasists as J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Ray Bradbury, and Peter S. Beagle. Included is an original tale written specifically for this volume.

The Very Best of Tad Williams is a true delight to those who have imagined themselves in fantastic worlds beyond the everyday and mundane.


The Old Scale Game
The Storm Door
The Stranger’s Hands
Child of an AncientCity
The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story
Three Duets for Virgin and Nosehorn
Diary of a Dragon
Not with a Whimper, Either
Some Thoughts Re: Dark Destroyer
Z is for...
Monsieur Vergalant’s Canard
The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of
Fish Between Friends
Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air
A Stark and Wormy Knight
Black Sunshine
And Ministers of Grace</blockquote>

This set of short stories brilliantly showcase the phenomenal depth and range of Mr. Williams' creative ability. His writing runs the gamut, shifting through such moods as humor, horror, joy, terror, fear, love, and depression, to name but a few. Without fail his stories are all thought provoking, be they two pages or twenty pages. This collection clearly shows many more aspects of Williams' than might be familiar to a reader of his fantasy/Sci-Fi series.

Some tales, such as <em>The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story</em>, are brief additions to existing series. Others, like <em>Fish Between Friends</em>, are brief tales that touch upon intelligence and the importance of recognizing what you already have. And the value of what you possess versus the value of trading that away for an unknown that may never arrive.

The story that surprised me the most was <em>Black Sunshine</em>. It was totally different than anything I've ever read by Mr. Williams before. It was written as a script, set as if for the stage or television, which made it far more compelling than any other form I can imagine. What really reached me was just how frightening it was - enough so that I'd avoid reading it after dark. In fact, if you've ever tripped, especially if you've had the poor luck to experience a bad trip, I would skip this story altogether. Which would be a shame given the power it possesses. Yet for peace of mind, I stand by my original assessment.

The story of the possible genesis of a god, <em>Not with a Whimper, Either</em>, is set circa 2002. It begins in an online chat room, where Fantasy readers have squared off against Sci-Fi readers. They are discussing books by authors like Heinlein and Tolkien - how they are viewed, means of certain constructs within the books, etc. Just as the discussion is about to devolve into a flame war the AOL server starts flashing a message about server problems. The 'Net goes down, as do all phones and broadcast signals of any sort. One user in chat room is able to get back online after a few minutes of seeing what looks like messed up code. The user chats with Moderator, and it quickly becomes clear that Moderator is not a joke, nor even an AI, but rather something that came into being in the pauses between electrical impulses on all our systems. It explains how it came into being in stages; first it was 'alerting and thinking', then came 'awake and thinking', now it is 'awake and talking.' It explains its plans for humans; in the end Moderator simply tells that first user to have "faith" in it.

<em>And Ministers of Grace</em> is another story that focuses on religion. It is a story of a holy war and one man's self realization. Set in a distant future, this religious war is wage between planets. One planet wants to convert the population of the other planet, and of course the government of the planet slated for conversion is dead set against any such thing happening to their people. Yet the story is really more about the holy warrior and his experiences. Very interesting piece and a fascinating note to end the book on.

Without a doubt I was once again surprised by Williams' superb command of the written word. Not a large fan of the short story as a medium, I may need to rethink that feeling after reading this compilation. For readers unfamiliar with Tad Williams' writing, this may be the perfect springboard, as opposed to launching into epic fantasies, or even series of any sort. One of the more surprising books I've had the pleasure of reading this year, and I say that in spite of the fact that I was already a huge fan of Williams' work.
5.0 out of 5 stars Here there be stories 24 Jun. 2014
By Kim Hayes - Published on
I have been a Tad Williams fan for ages, so I am a bit biased.

This is a collection of stories that he has written over the years. With all of them, I wanted more. I wanted to know more about each character, I wanted Tad to write more of each story.

I (along with the rest of his fan base!)have been waiting for new Tad material for a while so this fit the bill nicely. Overall it's a great way to kill an afternoon or a great way to ease the time spent in traffic on the way to work.

This is also a great collection of stories to introduce new readers to his writing. I would hope that he continues to publish his short stories in the future!
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