The Dragonbone Chair

, #1

Paperback, 672 pages

English language

Published Feb. 28, 2005 by DAW Trade.

ISBN:
978-0-7564-0269-3
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3 stars (54 reviews)

In the peaceful land of Osten Ard, the good king is dying-and a long-dreaded evil is about to be unleashed. Only Simon, a lowly castle scullion apprenticed to a secret order dedicated to halting the coming darkness, can solve the dangerous riddle that offers salvation to the land.

3 editions

reviewed The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, #1)

Slow

3 stars

I found this to be really, really slow going. I can see that the author is trying to immerse the reader in his world-building, but it really didn't work for me and I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, the religion. The main belief system is basically Christianity with a few minor tweaks, and I found this really jarring. Secondly, and probably more significantly, not much happened for most of the book.

Having a detailed world is great and all, but you still need either a plot of some characters to hold the reader's attention. And, for me, this had neither. In=stead, we had a few characters trudging around having lengthy conversations, and not really getting anywhere.

Things do pick up by the end of the book, but this then introduces the problem of there being too many characters being introduced too quickly, making it difficult to keep …

reviewed The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, #1)

Review of 'The Dragonbone Chair' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is a review of the entire Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, not just of this first book, the Dragonbone Chair.
I've read the series several times now, and always love it. It's rather slow in places and can get frustrating but I forgive it because of the rich world building and the time spent developing the interior worlds of all the main characters.
Simon, the kitchen boy who has grown up in a bustling castle, is thrown out of his comfortable existence when he gets embroiled in the struggle for the throne between Elias, the existing king, and Josua, Elias's younger brother.
This story is a sort of love letter to the Lord of the Rings, undeniably Tolkienesque, a secondary fantasy world set in a pre-industrial age. There are several non-human races, but they don't map exactly on Tolkien's framework. The most obvious parallel, Williams's immortal Sithi are clearly …

reviewed The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, #1)

Review of 'The Dragonbone Chair' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I was prepared the book to have a slow start as Williams developed the world. I enjoyed the gradual increase in action and scope and was excited to read the remaining books. Then, around the 85% mark, I realized that characters that weren't involved with the Binabik/Simon story hadn't made an impact on me and I wasn't sure their relation to the story in Hayloft. Knowing I wasn't invested now I figured that wouldn't change on future books so I'm stopping the series here.

reviewed The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, #1)

Review of 'The Dragonbone Chair' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I made it about a third into the book before admitting to myself that I wasn't enjoying this at all. I read the entire trilogy many years ago and when I felt the need for some epic chosen-one fantasy, I thought a re-read was in order. But it seems I became less forgiving of endless pages of songs and poems and other useless drivel. I just cannot go on. I just read the summaries on Wikipedia and now I'll move on to something that's hopefully more fun.

reviewed The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, #1)

Review of 'The Dragonbone Chair' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I can't find a specific thing to complain about, and I made it over 40% of the way through before I really ached for something (anything!) to happen, so it was well written (enough), I guess. But I stalled out when the Luke Skywalker-ish whiny lad and his Yoda-sounding mentor ran into the Galadriel-like lady in the Mirkwood-like forest, right at the midway point of the book, and I could go no further.

reviewed The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, #1)

Review of 'The Dragonbone Chair' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This has been slow going so far, it seems cluttered with strange names which are intended to give it a fantasy feel but actually distract from the story. I'll give it a few more chapters to decide if it's worth finishing.

Update: Well, I finally slogged my way through it. It has a few unique moments and the second half was definitely better than the first. Overall I feel it needed a vigorous and thorough editing. The story could/should have been shortened by a third and it would have lost none of the intent, and would gain some much needed momentum.

By the end I did actually grudgingly begin to like the central character of Simon and also several of the supporting characters, namely Isgrimnur, Strangyeard, and Binabik.

reviewed The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, #1)

Review of 'The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn)' on 'Goodreads'

1 star

Admittedly, this review is based on my read through the book twenty years ago, and a look at a summary to refresh my memory.

I picked up this book at the same time I picked up the first book in another epic fantasy series: the first book in the Wheel of Time series.

The best thing I can say about this book and the rest of the series is that as slowly paced and overwritten as it and the rest of the trilogy is, at least it stopped after three books (well, four in paperback actually thanks to the last book being ridiculously long).

The main character was annoying, and I don't recall the others being very interesting.

Perhaps I would appreciate it more if I were to read it again today, but I doubt it would be worth the slog through well over 3000 pages to find out.

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Subjects

  • Fiction - Fantasy
  • Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Fantasy - Epic
  • Fiction / Fantasy / General