Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Stone of Farewell

"Stone of Farewell" is the second volume in Tad Williams "Memory, Sorrow, Thorn" high fantasy trilogy which began with "The Dragonbone Chair". This novel is not quite as long as "The Dragonbone Chair", but it still weighs in at a hefty 570 pages in trade paperback. This middle volume continues the story of Simon, now called Simon Snowlock by some, and of his quest to bring the sword "Thorn" to the exiled Prince Josua to aid him in his fight against his brother, the King of Osten Ard. King Elias and his advisor Pyrates are being aided and corrupted by a great evil coming down from the frozen north and a thought long dead Sithi King is coming to bring destruction to the land while Elias ruins his own kingdom. Prince Josua has to find a way to fight his brother, who has a strong grip over Osten Ard and he knows that fighting Elias means at some point fighting the Storm King from the north. The true darkness that is facing Osten Ard is the Storm King and not Elias but few know the truth.

Like "The Dragonbone Chair", this book offers the reader a good deal of detail and proceeds at a leisurely pace. Critics of the book may call it a plodding pace, but I think that is a matter of perspective. While Simon does go on a long journey and goes some place very few humans have ever been, it almost does not seem as if he really gets anywhere...that his portion of the story just sort of stumbles along. Prince Josua has a much greater journey.

The level of detail and the overall storyline is vast and we are starting to get closer to an ending since there is only one book left. But there still seems so much more to do that I find it hard to understand how Williams can end this in a single book...except that the single book is as long as Books 1 and 2 combined. I am enjoying reading "Memory, Sorrow, Thorn", so the pacing does not bother me, but at times I wonder that it has taken Tad Williams 1100 pages to tell this story so far when it could probably be have shortened by a good 400 pages and nobody would have noticed. It's just a thought.

The bottom line is that to read "Stone of Farewell" the reader must have first finished "The Dragonbone Chair". There is enough back detail to fill the reader in, but much would be lost without having read the first book. Is this book good? Yes. Is this book better than the first book? Also, yes. It is a fairly big time investment and there are better books, but this is a worthwhile trip to Osten Ard and the world of Tad Williams.

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