Just for reference, Wert, what did you think of Memory, Sorrow, Thorn?
Just for reference, Wert, what did you think of Memory, Sorrow, Thorn?
Arguably his best book, and one rather different from his others, is Caliban's Hour, which is remarkably brief.
His series works, as most everyone has noted, take readerly patience. His sf series, "Otherland", though as long as any, does not feel--to me--as artificially "stretched" as his fantasy series do.
Taken by itself, the series is long-winded and meandering, though slightly more focused than SHADOWMARCH with a lot more impactful, memorable moments and scenes.
I think OTHERLAND works better because it's a TV series in novel form. It's a string of episodes (some of them self-contained) that together form an over-arcing narrative, rather than a single long novel broken up into four volumes, as such series usually are.
I'd also agree that Williams has a lot of skill with shorter novels and short stories (his stories in both SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH and especially WARRIORS are superb), something that tends to get drowned out by his numerous 300,000+ word novels.
Pedantic, I know. Sorry about that.
I liken the situation to that between Jordan and Martin. Martin didn't read THE EYE OF THE WORLD until many years after he started writing A GAME OF THRONES in 1991, but has often said that THE WHEEL OF TIME paved the way for ASoIaF by simply expanding the fantasy marketplace and making long series more acceptable (hell, I think even Erikson has indicated that WoT paved the way - in a marketing sense if nothing else - for MALAZAN's ten-volume series).
All that aside, this series, from Dragonbone Chair to the second Green Angel Tower novel are really good fantasy.
I read them all long, long ago and can still recall this tale very well.
You don't remember a story for so many years if it wasn't a very good one.
I have tried a few of Tad williams other books over the past decade and I can't say I liked any of them very much.
But Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, which is how I label the whole series of books, are very well worth any real fantasy readers time.
Seomon Snowlock, Miriamelle, Joshua, Duke Isgrimner, Camaris; some truly memorable characters that I have never forgot.
Well worth your money and time.
Shadowmarch #4: Shadowheart
The armies of the Qar and the Autarch of Xis have converged on Shadowmarch Castle, which now stands siege from enemies attacking by sea, land and underground. Ferras Vansen leads a desperate fight in the subterranean depths under the castle, trying to hold back the Xixians from the mysteries which the Funderlings have sworn to protect for generations. Briony Eddon is also heading home with a small Syanese army, but her resolve to help her people is challenged when she learns that her father is a captive of the Autarch...
Shadowheart is the fourth and final novel in the Shadowmarch sequence, the third major series by American author Tad Williams. The series is a slow-burner, with a pace that can best be called 'relaxed'. Empires may be forged, armies may clash and ancient secrets may be unveiled, but it all happens at a leisurely, chilled-out rate. This is epic fantasy at its cosiest and most predictable. Which is not to say the series is unenjoyable. Williams has saved the best for last here, with a plethora of battles and a smattering of intrigue to digest before the grand finale (complete with the villains all receiving appropriate come-uppances) and the long, 100-page epilogue in which the characters' fates are all neatly wrapped up and explained.
As with the previous books, the best moments are reserved for Ferras Vansen and Chert the Funderling, who are now leading the subterranean war as the Funderlings try to hold back the invading Xixians with the extremely reluctant help of the Qar. These underground battle sequences go on for a bit too long, but for the most part are exciting and tense. This is more than can be said for the scenes involving Barrick Eddon. Having spent two enormous books travelling beyond the mystical Shadowline in search of his destiny, his abrupt return to Shadowmarch smacks of plot convenience at its most blatant. Whilst his character arc was formerly one of the most interesting in the series, as he left behind his life as a crippled royal to embrace an alien culture, here it ends in a damp squib as Barrick becomes more enigmatic and dull.
Despite these issues, Williams ties together a large number of plots, character arcs and ideas that he has established over the preceding 2,500 pages and fuses them into a reasonably good ending. There's nothing too surprising here, but Williams' solid writing skills make it all readable enough. However, the feeling remains that Williams has been wheel-spinning with a series that seems to be more of a tribute to other fantasy works (glimmers of A Song of Ice and Fire and the works of Jack Vance can be detected) and also a call-back to his own earlier (and rather more impressive) Memory, Sorrow and Thorn sequence rather than exploring fresher ground (as he did so successfully in Otherland).
Shadowheart (***˝) ends the series in an effective enough manner, but, despite its immense length, this remains a minor work from an author capable of a lot more. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.
Otherland to come to the big screen:
Warner Bros. is heading to "Otherland," acquiring feature rights to Tad Williams' sci-fi book series and setting it up with Dan Lin to produce.
Studio has tapped John Scott III to script the film, based on the four books published by DAW-Penguin USA between 1996 and 2001 as "City of Golden Shadow," "River of Blue Fire," "Mountain of Black Glass" and "Sea of Silver Light."
Story for the adaptation is set 100 years in the future and follows a group of unexpected heroes who must escape an assassin and make their way through epic digital worlds to unravel a conspiracy that threatens to destroy humanity.
Seanne Winslow Wehrenfennig at Lin Pictures will serve as co-producer and oversee for Lin Pictures.
Lin's a producer on "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows" and is in post-production on period drama "Gangster Squad," starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, and Sean Penn, directed by Ruben Fleischer. He's also producing "Lego: the Piece of Resistance," written and directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord, with Warners planning a 2014 release.
That doesn't sound like a bad pick for Williams does it? Game of Shadows was a fine film, superior to the first Holmes film by quite a bit, and Gangster Squad is regarded as one of most highly anticipated films in 2012.
The Dirty Streets of Heaven - the first Bobby Dollar novel:
Bobby Dollar has a secret. Actually he’s got a ton of them. The most important one is that his real name’s Doloriel and he’s an angel. Not an important angel, maybe, but a rough-and-tumble guy who’s always done his part in the long cold war between Heaven and Hell.
But now he’s stepped into the middle of something that’s got both sides very nervous — an unprecedented number of missing souls. And if that wasn’t enough, someone has summoned a truly unpleasant Babylonian demon that’s doing its best to track him down and rip him to pieces. Also, his opposite number on the case is arguably the world’s sexiest she-devil, and Bobby has feelings for her that Heaven definitely does not allow.
The Dirty Streets of Heaven is the first book in Tad’s new fantasy-fueled thriller series about an afterlife investigator — the angel Doloriel (Bobby Dollar) — who searches for a missing soul and finds himself caught up in a battle much larger than he imagined.
Three books are planned for the series: The Dirty Streets of Heaven, Happy Hour in Hell, and Sleeping Late on Judgment Day. Each will be somewhat shorter than Tad’s usual epic science fiction and fantasy fare, and although part of a series, each may be read as a stand-alone novel.
The Dirty Streets of Heaven will be published in September by DAW Books in the US and by Hodder Stoughton in the UK.
Not my usual kind of story, but its Tad Williams. I'll be there.