The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams

Warning! This review makes reference to events from Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. These events may be considered spoilers for that series.

Well, it feels good to be back in Osten Ard! The Witchwood Crown takes place thirty years after the events in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Simon and Miriamele are still on the throne. Some of our old favorites are back, including Count Eolair, Binabik, Tiamak and others.  Once again, as is usually the case, there is a rising threat from the Norns, and possibly from other sources.

Without giving too much away, the story seemed to have an air of impending doom. I kept thinking that at some point,Simon, Miriamele, or others may die. Obviously, I won’t give anything away, but there was a sense that anything bad could happen at any moment. That could be influenced by the stories I have read since Memory, Sorrow and Thorn was first published. Nonetheless, it brought a nice tension to the story. I wanted this story to be an introduction to the next generation- a passing of the torch. Simon and Miriamele are still the main characters, and I am anticipating that the next book will have the next generation closer to front and center.

We say goodbye to some old characters, and are introduced to some new ones. The politics of the world have expanded. I look forward to spending more time in Nabban and amongst the Thrithings folk. Their stories are featured more prominently and expands the world much more than in the original trilogy. We get to see more of the politics of the world and all of its complexities. It feels like a more sophisticated and complicated Often Ard. That’s a good thing. We get to spend more time with the Norns, too. If you read The Heart of What Was Lost, you will recognize some of the Norn characters. These people can really hold a grudge!

And, for those who were wondering, the fate of Josua, Vorsheva and their children is explored in this book. I was able to correctly guess some things, but not others. The reveal was very well done and absolutely worth the wait.

One thing I did have trouble with were the actions and decision making of Simon and Miriamele. I didn’t think some of their decisions really made sense, and they only made those decisions in order to move certain characters around in preparation for the main story arc. Miriamele in particular seemed harsh, and Simon didn’t seem to have matured into his role as king.

The story has some surprises, mystery and betrayal. All of the ingredients for a masterful  trilogy.

Lilypad Rating: LilyPadLilyPadLilyPadLilyPad out of 5

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Quick Update on Reading Round Up

A couple months ago, I posted the books I planned on reading in the first part of 2017. Well, its been slow, to say the least. I’ve been reading, but I only managed to read one of the books I listed, and that was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m not giving a full review here, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had some minor quibbles with some of the time jumps, and going back to explain how a character ended up in a certain situation (not a device I am particularly fond of), but it did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. I was very invested in Ifemelu’s story. It’s an immigrant’s story, and a perspective that we don’t often see- that of a black African navigating race relations in the United States. Ifemelu’s perspective and how she and other Africans, particularly Nigerians, view race compared to African Americans, was something I personally had always thought about, and I enjoyed seeing that perspective fleshed out. It’s also a love story, so the separation of Ifemelu and Obinze, and the clash of cultures they both experience, are woven together very well.

I’m still anxious to read The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. I’m getting that one from the library, and there’s a huge waiting list!

I’m up in the air about The City by Stella Gemmell. I’m not sure why, but hopefully I will get to it.

Of course, The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams will be released on June 27. The world will stop for me on that date!

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin was also on the list. For some reason I’m afraid to start this one. I enjoyed The Inheritance Trilogy, but her subsequents books really didn’t grab me. I hope to eventually give this one a try.

I just finished Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I hope to review that trilogy soon. Also, I am interesting in reading a new book, The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger. I’d like to review this one as well.

Are you meeting your 2017 reading goals?

 

 

My Top 5 (or so) Sci-Fi/Fi Fantasy Series

This is in no particular order, although I will say that A Song of Ice and Fire is number one, with The Chronicles of Narnia as a very close number two. (Talk about polar opposites!)

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin I’ve been reading this series since almost day one. I began A Game of Thrones when it was in paperback, just before A Clash of Kings was published. Re-reading and discussing theories with other fans was a new and wonderful experience for me. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the fan community back then, and even got to meet and hang out with George a tiny bit. A great life experience that I’ll never forget! Waiting patiently for The Winds of Winter
  2. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan This is an interesting one because it introduced me to online fandom. I picked up The Great Hunt, which is the second book in the series, and thought it was okay, but I felt like I was missing something. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I had skipped the first book! So I bought The Eye of the World, and was hooked. I went online to find out when the next one was coming out. That’s when I discovered websites like wotmania.com (which is no longer active). People were discussing theories and characters, and I had no idea what they were talking about! So I re-read the books and the rest is history! Another farm boy who becomes a king…a savior…a devil? Depends on who you ask!
  3. The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracey Hickman Wow. DRAGONS!! This was my first real “grown up” fantasy series. Again, I read the second book in the trilogy (this seems to be a habit) and thought it was amazing! Years later, I had the pleasure of meeting Margaret Weiss and Tracey Hickman at a con. It was great to be able to tell them in person how much this series influenced my love of fantasy. This is more of the questing type story. A rag tag group of people thrown together to defeat evil. Its got elves AND dragons! Yes!
  4. Dragon Prince/Dragon Star by Melanie Rawn This story was one of my favorites because it had so many characters and everyone seemed to be related! It was like a soap opera in some ways. And I mean that as a compliment. I loved the idea of sunlight as a source for magic. Its got everything- dragons and jewels, and pretty people and romance!
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis This one is near and dear to my heart. I used to read this series as a child over and over again. I spent a lot of time by myself and this series was my trusted companion. To this day, I still read this series at least a couple times a year, or I’ll listen to it on audiobook. The images and lessons from this series have stayed with me all my life. Further up and further in!
  6. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams I’ve been talking about this series quite a bit recently since there are new Osten Ard books being published. I won’t repeat everything here, but I still gravitate towards stories similar to this one. I mean, its got elf like people! And the scullery boy who’s really a king! Classic.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

These are series that one day may creep into my top 5, but they are not quite ready yet…

  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling Loved the series, but haven’t had an interest to re-read them. If I ever do, then it may creep up on the list.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins I adore this series, even though I tend to not like first person narratives. However, I inhaled this trilogy in just a couple days. I loved the movies as well.
  • The Expanse by James S. A. Corey I typically don’t read science fiction, but I will watch it. However, this series got my hooked from day one, as I have talked about before. I will definitely need to re-read it.
  • African Immortals by Tananarive Due I want to say that this was my first introduction to African American speculative fiction, even though I had read Octavia Butler before this. However, this series was something new and unique for me. To this day I still think this series would make a fantastic movie or TV show. Immortal Africans? The blood of Jesus? You can’t miss with that!
  • The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings Looking back, The Belgariad series was not all that great , but I gobbled it up at the time. Another farm boy who becomes king! I like series with multiple countries and cultures and this one fit the bill. For my young self, it was so epic and sprawling! I used to spend almost my whole weekly allowance buying the books. Now, it’s more nostalgia that makes me add this as an honorable mention.

What are some of your favorites?

Reading Round-up

This is just a post to give everyone an idea of what I’ve been reading this month, and my anticipated reading for the next couple months.

Like many people, I have a bunch of books in my virtual “to read” pile. There are so many good books and so little time to read them. One of my goals for 2017 is to make more time for books. There’s a lot of great TV and movies out right now, and its so easy to get home from work, plop down on the couch, and flick on the TV. Rather than saving reading for the weekend, I’d like to get more reading done during the week. Anyway, here are a few of the books in my “to read” pile, and what I am currently reading right now.

Currently Reading: The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley (Book 2 of The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne). I raced through the first book in this series, The Emperor’s Blades. I haven’t read a good epic fantasy in awhile, and this one definitely filled the void. I may do a full review of the entire trilogy when I’m finished, but so far I am really enjoying this.

To Read (in no particular order):

  1. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I’m late to the game on this one, but I’ve heard great things about it, so of course I will give it a try. It is about a slave named Cora, who, of course, uses the Underground Railroad, a network of people, places and things used by slaves escaping slavery in the American South. This novel won the National Book Award and was an Oprah Book Club pick, so of course, I must read it.
  2. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin I have read her books before, most notably The Inheritance Trilogy, and really enjoyed it. I have not been able to connect with her other books, but after reading a sample of The Fifth Season, I definitely want to give it a try. This novel won the Hugo Award for Best Novel of 2016.
  3. The City by Stella Gemmell Stella Gemmell is the wife of the late author, David Gemmell. I read David Geemmell’s trilogy, Troy, and one of his other novels, The Lion of Macedon. You can read my review of The Lion of Macedon here. David Gemmell died before he could finish the final book in the Troy trilogy, so Stella completed the novel for him. I love Greek mythology and stories from ancient Greece and Rome, and The City takes place in a similar setting. What I have read of the sample has peaked my interest, so at some point this year I will give it  a try.
  4. The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams. I am so looking forward to this! I have already posted my thoughts on Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and The Heart of What Was Lost. Needless to say, book 2 in The Last King of Osten Ard is tops for me.
  5. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read the sample and was hooked. This is, in part, the story of a Nigerian immigrant to America, and how she grapples with her values and ideals in a post 9/11 America. These are stories we don’t hear enough about, and I can’t wait to dive into this one. Again, I’m late to the party on this one, but at least I’m getting there!

There are more on my list, but this gives you an idea of what I’m diving into in the next few months. I’m always on the lookout for new stuff, so my list will only grow.

What’s on your list?

The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams

Happy 2017!

As I mentioned in my Memory, Sorrow and Thorn post, this is a bridge novel between the last events of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (MST), and the beginning of the new trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard. More specifically, this book details the events between the end of To Green Angel  Tower (the third book in MST) and its epilogue. For those who don’t want MST spoiled, I will say that this book is clearly a set up for the new trilogy, and is probably a necessary read before you dive into The Last King of Osten Ard (LKOA).

SPOILERS FOR MEMORY, SORROW and THORN ahead!

After the Storm King was defeated, Duke Isgrimnur is tasked with destroying the remaining Norns, who were still terrorizing parts of Osten Ard. We get view points of Isgrimnur, a couple of common soldiers, and the Norns themselves. With the Norn point of view, we get to see more of their society and how it works. We see the conflicts that arise when the ultimate fate of their entire race is hangs in the balance.  What some of them propose to do is actually quite shocking, and seems to go against everything they believe, about themselves and about the world, but it makes for a fascinating dilemma. What would you do if you are facing the complete annihilation of your race? I became very invested in their story, and it’s pretty clear that what happens in the final battle between the Norns and the humans if Osten Ard will have ramifications for generations to come.

I was not as invested in the point of view of the common soldiers. While the change of perspective was good for pacing, the characters didn’t resonate with me. I tend to like fantasy that focuses more on the upper classes, royalty, etc. as opposed to the common folk. I get why its there, its just not as compelling to me.

There are certainly events in this book that are foreshadowing of events to come in LKOA, including some good old fashioned prophetic ramblings from immortal creatures!

The Heart of What Was Lost is a great throwback to the epic fantasy of the 90’s. When I first read MST, I was reading it along with The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc. which were clearly influenced by MST. Its nice to get back into high adventure, and a nice break from the graphic violence and long detailed depiction of battles that are depicted in the more “grim/dark” fantasy that is popular now.

This is absolutely a set up for the new trilogy. For fans of MST, this relatively short novel is a nice way to reacquaint yourself with the world of Osten Ard, and prepare you for the new adventure to come.

Lilypad Rating:LilyPadLilyPadLilyPadLilyPad out of 5

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

This is one of my favorite series of all time. I have apparently been under a rock, because I recently discovered that there will be a new trilogy set in Osten Ard, the world of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn! A “bridge” story will be published January 3, 2017 entitled The Heart of What Was Lost, which will cover the year between the end of the third book in MS&T and the beginning of the new trilogy. Thus, I have begun my re-read of Memory Sorrow and Thorn! Here are all the stats:

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams (www.tadwilliams.com)

  • The Dragonbone Chair
  • Stone of Farewell
  • To Green Angel Tower

The Heart of What Was Lost (publishing January 3, 2017)

The Last King of Osten Ard Trilogy

  • The Witchwood Crown (publishing June, 2017)
  • Empire of Grass
  • The Navigator’s Children

I won’t be posting updates on my re-read, but I will post my reviews of The Heart of What Was Lost and the Last King of Osten Ard Trilogy. Can’t wait! Is it 2017 yet?