The beloved first novel in Tad Williams' classic fantasy series Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, first published in 1988 and now available as an unabridged audiobook for the first time.
Kitchen-boy Simon is bored, restless, and 14 years old - a dangerous combination. It seems, however, that his life has just taken a turn for the better when he's apprenticed to his castle's resident wizard. As Simon's learning to read and write under Doctor Morgenes' tutelage, forces greater than he could possibly imagine are gathering: forces which will change Simon's life - and his world - forever.
Following the death of Good King John, Osten Ard is plunged into civil war as his sons battle for control of the fabled Dragonbone Chair - the country's throne as well as the symbol of its power. Simon is forced to flee the only home he has ever known, a journey which will test him beyond his worst nightmares.
With The Dragonbone Chair, Tad Williams introduced readers to the incredible fantasy world of Osten Ard and kicked off the beloved, internationally best-selling series Memory, Sorrow and Thorn.
©1988 Robert Paul ‘Tad’ Williams, published by permission of DAW Books (P)2015 Hodder & Stoughton
A classic from my childhood I have read the paperbacks again and again. This is a classic fantasy tale, one I have thoroughly enjoyed every time I have visited it. The audiobook adds an extra dimension and the performance by Andrew Wincott helped bring this story to life.
Simon is and always will be my favourite character in this book. The daydreaming youth who has responsibilities thrust upon him. Its a character I can relate to and sympathize with.
A tough question, I felt he did such a great job with them all. I did rather enjoy his portrayal of Duke Isgrimnir the gruff old duke from the north.
There were definately moments when i laughed whilst listening to this story, but mostly it just swept me back into my childhood memories of reading this, with the delightful surprise of experiencing someone else's vision for how the characters sounded.
"Excellent fantasy with superb narration"
This is a traditional fantasy epic, but unlike many from its era, it derives much of its inspiration from the original European mythology, and not Tolkien's interpretation. Here we have fair elves, but they are much more savage and alien than those of Tolkien.
While the story is a somewhat cliched kitchen boy's journey to power, it is a cracking yarn that I found to have a good mix of action, suspense and intrigue.
Love the accents for the different cultures on show. Andrew mixes the standard British English accents with Welsh, Norse and Scottish, among others.
"Epic relatable fantasy. Gritty and wonderful!"
It ranks up near the top. I love this novel and I really hope the entire Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy is made available by Audible.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin
The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist
I don't normally focus on narration unless it is especially awful. The narrator did a great job and I'd be happy to hear him voice any further novels in the series.
Read or listen to books - don't watch movies.
Theater of the mind - use it!
This is the first novel in a fantasy trilogy about Simon, his friends, and a land in turmoil as an inescapable darkness approaches.
Simon is neither a magician or a magical warrior. He's a flawed and believable character amid a great number of flawed and believable characters - in a world painted believable despite the fantasy setting.
I'm not normally a HUGE fan of fantasy because often the authors of big fantasy epics get bogged down trying to fill a huge world with hundreds of characters and their stories.
Tad William's keeps a tight narrative focus and only expands on the stories of other characters when it pushes the over arching plot forward. It's an amazing trick to pull off - there ARE other stories in here besides Simon's - but they never seem unnecessary and they always add to the over arching plot rather than being distracting word bloat.
When you've finished this novel you'll be aching for the next installment. I promise you.
"A word of caution."
First, let me say that the world, plot and narration are all excellent. However, it falls short were it truly matters, the main character. The kitchen boy, Simon, is naive, clumsy, willful, selfish and stupid. He lacks any virtue that I can admire, nor is he being mistreated in any way that would allow me to feel either pity or riotous indignation on his behalf. Also, he has no strong motivation to drive him.
In short, he should not have been the main character.
It feels like the actual story is happening to the side with all the rich and intriguing characters all taking part. And we, the listeners, only get a glimpse of it, the few times Simon happens by to eavesdrop. The rest of the time its just the boy feeling bad for himself or getting a lecture on the history of the world.
(Dropped a the 12 hour mark. Couldn't take it anymore.)
"You'll need a little patience for this one"
If you want fast-paced action, keep well clear.
Listening through a bank holiday's DIY project, I can confirm that paint does indeed dry faster than it took for anything of interest to happen. (The first bit of action / interest comes at around the 4.5 hour mark).
That said, it's a beautifully written book, but whereas some authors might take a sentence to describe the forest at nightfall, Tad Williams will take four, and then go on to describe the darkness afterwards. Sometimes there are just too many metaphors, wonderfully colourful as they might be. The lead character spends an awful lot of time lost in the under-city, and then in the forest, and then hiking up the mountain - and boy are you there with him, through all those long, dull hours.....
Despite the above, there are some really good and exciting scenes (they are just particularly well spaced), where the pace kicks up a few gears. This is also a unique, new fantasy world and it's this that has kept me interested.
This book is definitely building to something bigger - this first instalment ends just as it's starting to get interesting and things are finally beginning to happen.
I had to take a break half-way through this, escaping to a light-hearted, favoured listen, but I came back to this story, finished it, and have now started onto Part 2. I am trusting the other reviewers that this will be worth it in the long run. (I must remember to review the next instalments too, then!)
Short version: if you're a patient listener, and enjoy beautifully written prose, then you may love this. If you need action, it may well drive you to distraction. Or, like me, perhaps you'll opt simply to zone out for the dull bits and hope not to miss anything important.
Narration is fine.
"An interesting setup for a 2nd book..a slow burner"
I usually devour most epic fantasy books, funding it hard to stop myself listening/reading and sneaking away to read more. This one tool me alot longer than usual. It was performed very well. The narrator was among the best I've heard but the story (I felt personally) was a little slow in parts. The background info was needed and did enrich the characters and story. I just felt like it had been dragged out at times and could have accomplished more with less.
But as I said in the title this book shouldn't be regarded as a complete work, more an intro into a new world, as nothing truly remarkable happens for the majority of the book (there are some exciting parts though ) but it does leave you with quite a few unanswered and exciting questions and revelations which point to a more engrossing second book.
I think it was worth persevering and it may be one of those series that start slow but turn out to be amazing. I usually mourn those the hardest as by the time your done you don't want the story to be over!
If you have the patience to let it play out and plan to read the whole set of books, then it is definitely worth your time. On its own though you would be left a little frustrated. Clearly a small part of a better whole.
"Slow start but worth the wait"
Brilliantly narrated, really brought the characters to life.
Took a while to get going, excellent once it did.
"very laborious start but gets better"
I seriously struggled at the start of this book, but I persevered because I read it years ago and remembered it as a very good book. There are some similarities to the game of thrones books but remember that this was written in the 80s
The. first half of the book is hard going. Overly descriptive and prolonged. However, stick with it. The story really picks up pace and you really care about the characters. Game of thrones had me hooked from the very first page, this book you have to work harder at but it is worth the effort. I have just downloaded the second book in the series and am about to abandon my current book to continue the story. Its been a long wait for my free credit.
"Had such promise"
I have to admit whilst I really liked the narration, I've watched paint dry faster than the story developed in this book, After 5 hours and virtually nothing had happened I just couldn't do it anymore.
It's long and boring in some parts, but very rewarding in the end. I would say that for me is better than the Fellowship of the Ring. At least is more meatier than that.
"Top Notch Fantasy"
Immersive thrilling escapism
The first meeting with Jiriki and the giving of the white arrow and its significance.
He brought a good alround approach to voice characterisation , with his Simon voice coming off with the right amount of youthful impudence without lurching into Kevin and Perry territory .
Makes Lord of the Rings look like a cake walk
If you had not already guessed Tad Williams is one of my favourite authors and this was my first experience of his works . Its like an old friend i can revist many times and with the impending release of a new trilogy in Osten Ard, there is plenty to look forward to.
I found this very long winded. Was glad when it finished. I thought the narration was good and inventive. A shame I thought as I have enjoyed other Tad Williams but I will not get any more of this series.
Having read the book many years ago, I was delighted to find the Audible version. An epic story and outstanding narration. 31 hours of magical story telling, at it's best.
"FANTASTIC NARRATOR, A MUST FOR FANTASY FANS!"
This wonderful fantasy classic, originally published in 1988, tells the story of Simon, a scullion at the castle of the Hayholt, in Osten Ard. Simon is special, and actually, you don't find out who he really is or why he is special in part one of the trillogy. But, Simon's journey is thrilling, and the narration is just fantastic. Andrew Wincott does a top class job in his performance, with a superb range of voices. THIS is how fantasy books are supposed to be narrated.
I love this story and have downloaded book two.
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