SpeculativeFiction


The Dragonbone Chair


The fantasy genre is notorious for its cliches. The same elements that make up a compelling tale, as expressed in The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, occur again and again. Fans continue to embrace them tirelessly, because as any fan of the genre knows, it's the details that matter. It's not where you're going, but how you get there, and what happens to you on the way. Tad William's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy is a perfect example of that basic principle.

Simon, the protagonist, is a simple kitchen boy; not yet a man, not quite a child, a dreamer hounded by the dragon of practicality.  But even a kitchen boy in the King's castle has room for some adventure in his life, and so it begins... with the death of the old King John, Prince Elias must take the throne amd with it the King's famed sword Bright-Nail, but with his ascension the realm grows restless.  The priest Pryrates dabbles with dark powers.  All these things are noticed by Simon and his friend Morgenes the scholar as one would notice clouds gathering in the distance on a summer's day, a threat for the future rather than the present... until Prince Josua, heir to the throne of his brother, disappears into the night.  As easily as that are a scholar and his student drawn into the gathering storm.

This, the first book of the trilogy, allows Simon and his friends to take his place on the stage of great events.  The tale is well-told, and if it follows a predictable course in broad outline, the details of the journey make up for it.  The world is richly built, with many mysteries to be revealed.  If the prose is sometimes slower than it might be, and dwells longer in the dark places, the persistent reader will be rewarded by the moments of rich drama to follow. 

This is a fantasy classic that deserves a place on the shelf of every serious fantasy fan.  If you've read it and liked it, you will probably also enjoy A Song of Ice and Fire.

This entry was published Tue Mar 22 01:03:23 CST 2005 by Matthew and last updated 2013-08-15 10:19:26.0.

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