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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An effort, but worth it!
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...
Published on 13 Aug 2009 by N. Shepherd

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just another fantasy epic?? Well...
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...
Published 19 months ago by benjamiser


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An effort, but worth it!, 13 Aug 2009
By 
N. Shepherd (Prague, Czech Republic) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.

If the foregoing is a bit pretentious, then I'll compound the sin with the following: I believe that in art, as in life, you get out what you put in. Listening to bland, three-minute pop songs, watching soaps and reality TV, or reading books with sex or violence on every other page (and six-word sentences) does provide instant gratification, though I can't see it in the case of reality TV. The problem is, such things are immediately forgotten and provide no long-lasting pleasure. Great works of music, cinema and literature require effort to be put in, and the rewards for doing so are as great or greater than the effort invested. This book is a good case in point. I'll illustrate this by saying that after finishing Dragonbone Chair I decided on a bit of lighter reading in the form of a Dean Koontz novel before moving on to Stone of Farewell. Now I like Koontz and his book was very enjoyable on its own merits, but after the Williams it seemed shallow and corny.

Four stars, not five, for two reasons - first, for the above mentioned longueurs, and second, for the constant repetition of various oaths based on the gods of Williams's fantasy world (Aedon be blessed, etc). It becomes annoying after a while.

Sorry if I've been a bit preachy - I hope this will be of help to potential readers.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Start of an Epic, 21 Aug 2005
By 
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. Instead you'll find multiple believable human cultures, the mysterious Sithi, and diminutive Trolls.
Of worthy mention is the cover art and the maps. Michael Whelan produced the paperback cover art--and I have always enjoyed his work--true to the text as it is and wonderfully rendered. Additionally the maps were created by Tad Williams himself, and several enlargements appeared throughout the volume.
If you are looking for epic fantasy and a well crafted tale then look no further than <i>Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn</i>'s first volume <b>The Dragonbone Chair</b> to start you off.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just another fantasy epic?? Well..., 7 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Dragonbone Chair: Memory, Sorrow and Thorne Series: Book One (Memory, Sorrow & Thorn) (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything a fantasy fan expects in a book and more!, 3 Dec 2006
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I came upon this book by chance and am I every glad I did., 27 Feb 2002
By A Customer
I was a student in Letterkenny, County Donegal when I came across this little gem in a newsagent shop. It was the last copy, was somewhat tattered and was reduced in a sale. Being a student I was short on cash so I went for it and am I glad I did.
The Dragonbone Chair is a unique book in a unique series as it creates an entire world and peoples that are entirely believeable. The story is gloomy and desperate in parts, comical and fun in others but always gripping.
Williams can describe a scene so well that you find yourself falling into the world he has created. The main character Simon starts off as a gangly adolesent with little going for him. As the story unfolds throughout this book and the books that follow in the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series we see Simon become a brave young man.
The cities, countries, peoples, creatures and events created and described by Tad Williams are exciting, enjoyable and utterly believeable.
This book and the entire series will not disappoint even the most critical of readers.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memory, Sorrow and Thorn One of the Better Fantasy Series, 7 July 1999
By A Customer
This book begins the quartet of "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn," and is one of the better fantasy series currently available for reading. Well written, with a developed mythos, good characterization, and solid plotting, this series must stand as one of the better, if not among the best, of the fantasy series availble for reading. Much of the story and world are freshly rendered, and rarely does the reader encounter the overly familiar or implausible contrivances that plague so much of contemporary fantasy fiction. Nor are the characterizations idealized or juvenile. While this series does not rise, for me, to the imaginary involvement of works such as "Lord of the Rings," the first three "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant," Bradley's "Mists of Avalon," Kay's work since "Fianovar," and Martin's or Jordan's (despite its flaws) ongoing series, nonetheless, I cannot recommend this quartet highly enough.
One note of caution: Action addicts may have difficulty with the "Stone of Farewell" as the first 150 pages are devoted to establishing background and character development of the main protagonist, but I believe if they perservere, only the true adrenelin junkie will feel short-changed. And for you, there is always Eddings or Brooks or comics.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old school charmer, 2 July 2009
Well this book packs in just about everything that is totally out of vogue right now. A kitchen scullion boy with a mysterious heritage and burgeoning powers, magic swords, an elderly wizard type mentor, an evil king and his sinister hooded sidekick, a quest to find artifacts of power and of course, Dragons!

In fact pretty much everything that is seen as cliched and old hat and likely to be laughed at in an episode of Krod Mandoon is here in this first installment of what is a truly epic 4 book series!

And yet I gotta say I loved it!

The characters are beautifully and sympathetically drawn, the story is underscored with a gentle humour and the plot moves with a surprising pace and the plot elements are largely unpredictable.

In fact there are some nice variations on the 'usual'. The Elves (come on there had to be elves!) are a dispossesed and bitter people with no love of man and Trolls rather than the ogrish cave dwellers of LOTR are sensitive dimunutive mountain folk.

The book also has a believable 'authentic' feel to it, which I know sounds daft when talking about a book of high fantasy, but there you go, it has. Williams helps this process by borrowing heavily from Norse culture as both Anderson and Tolkien did before him, and also throws in a bit of Saxon and Scottish clan culture which gives a richness and texture to the individual Dukedoms and cultures.

The book has it's demands, the cast list is enormous though they build gradually so can be kept tabs on (helped by the appendices at the rear) there are also, of course, plenty of song lyrics and alien languages but the reader can choose to engage with these or not with (gotta say this along with maps is not something that rocks my world but I know many love them!)

In summary, it's good old school, high quality fantasy of the Tolkien school of writing! Yes you know the formula but then you do when you go and see A Bond film! It doesn't mean they are not great fun though.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Traditional fantasy, 6 Jun 2007
The Dragonbone Chair kicks off the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (MSaT) trilogy - which is four books in paperback. The book starts slowly with the focus on the hero, the obligatory orphan boy, Simon. This makes a welcome change from recent fantasy novels I've read that pommel you into submission with action scenes from the first page. Halfway into the book the story gets going and branches out with three or four narrative strands on the go - a structure that is maintained until the end of the series.

The writing style is very similar to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time (WoT) Series - which is to say, a comfort read and very easy to lose yourself in the author's world. It also has in common, frequent access to the hero's thoughts for the added feeling of actually being there. So if you read and enjoyed the first four WoT books you will enjoy the MSaT series. And of course you have the added bonus of knowing there is an ending!

This is my favourite type of fantasy book. A low level of technology, high level of magic. Tolkienesque I suppose. Derivative? - Yes. But so what. MSaT is easily up there with Magician, Sword of Shannara, and Lord of the Rings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average, 10 April 2013
By 
Lucky13 (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Dragonbone Chair: Memory, Sorrow and Thorne Series: Book One (Memory, Sorrow & Thorn) (Paperback)
I honestly have to say I am very gutted not to give this book more stars. Having just finished the excellent Red Knight, I was looking for another long and exciting fantasy book to read. Based on the reviews I thought I had found it, unfortunately it was not so. If I'm honest my biggest issue is with the main character Simon. I have never found such an annoying dim witted character before. Yes I know he is young but is that an excuse for him to be so dull, and stupid....its like reading about Frank Spencer from Some Mothers Do Have em. The thing is I believe there is a really good book here, as the other characters in the story really stand out and are fully rounded and Interesting. Unfortunately the story seems to revolve around Simon, who I actually began to despise. Good book but a dull and extremely annoying main character meant I had to give up after reading 45% of this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It will leave you breathless and exhilarated, 28 Sep 2001
By A Customer
I won't tell you about the story, I'll tell you how it made me feel...
I bought it years ago, when it was first published, simply because it had a nice picture on the cover and because I wanted a big fat book that I could lose myself in for a couple of months.
It's a bit like a roller-coaster; the first hundred pages are like the climbing of the first hill, but once past them, you're hurtling along at break-neck speed, being thrown from side to side and hanging on for the thrill of the ride.
It's one of those books that makes you late for work in the morning. I found myself devoting every spare minute to reading the thing. I laughed, I cried and I raged, but most of the time I thanked my lucky stars that I bought this book. I love it, it's my favourite novel.
If you like epic fantasy, it simply doesn't get any better than this.
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