Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams

Ahh…the middle book of a trilogy, like the ugly stepsister is often of little note, the weakest installment, lacking the magical beginning of the first and the massive impact of the conclusion. Stone of Farewell serves as this bridge from Dragonbone Chair to To Green Angel Tower. However, this book is not the lesser book – it is a better book than Dragonbone Chair, far more interesting and simply better written.

As I’ve said before, Tad Williams doesn’t tread new ground with the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy – it is the story of an orphan boy, apparently destined for greatness, in a struggle to save the world. We have many of the usual suspects: an orphan hero, dark wizard, mysterious witch, tyrannical king, exiled prince, desperate princess, trolls, giants, elves, etc. But, Tad Williams does this well. The characters are realistic, people die, interesting parallels are created, growth occurs.

With this being a second installment, I’ll skip the typical plot summary. Suffice to say, the story takes us from the end of the first installment to the beginning of the third. Bad things happen along with a few good, death, cold, separation, and coming together. This book does not stand alone in anyway – it is simply the middle of a large story.

The most notable thing about Stone of Farewell is that it is clearly an improvement from Dragonbone Chair. The story doesn’t bog down or take a too long in gaining inertia. We learn more of the important players, we can guess at what is to come, and carefully set up parallels emerge.

On my 10-point scale, Stone of Farewell scores 7 to 7.5. This series really is a ‘new classic’ in the realm of epic fantasy. It stands on the shoulders of Tolkien and lifts the genre higher – would Bakker look so brilliant without the likes of Robert Jordan and Tad Williams?

Related Reviews: Dragonbone Chair, To Green Angel Tower, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy

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