Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is Tad Williams’s epic fantasy trilogy, comprising The Dragonbone Chair (1988), Stone of Farewell (1990), and To Green Angel Tower (1993). The world and story draw upon many sources from history and folklore. Several characters’ elements and experiences mirror the legends of Great Britain and other lands (e.g., King Arthur and Sir Lancelot, Alfred the Great, Baba Yaga, and Amaterasu). The dominant Erkynlanders resemble the medieval English, with Anglo-Saxon/Biblical-sounding personal names in addition to the usual castle-based feudal/agrarian setting of stock fantasy. The other peoples of Osten Ard also have identifiable real-world parallels in their names, cultures, and native tongues.
Our Thoughts: I read this trilogy some years ago and three scenes stick out in my head. Simon facing the dragon in the snow. Tad William’s description of the dragon’s approach was so well written that I stopped and reflected on it. Also the flooded plains frozen over. Loved some of the battle strategies portrayed there. The Sithi city in the forest, with the strung up cloth art and vividly different culture. I enjoyed these books a lot. My ONLY gripe about this trilogy is that it is 4 books long. Book III – To Green Angel Tower was so big that the publishers split the paperback in two. Having to buy the 4th book was irksome. Luckily, these days we have ereaders and the title fits in a single file just fine.
The Sithi (which are pre-Sith) are like elves. The other creatures from Tad’s imagination are something else all together, and much terrible fun.
This is a 4 star epic fantasy that I highly recommend. – M.R.