The Great ‘Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn’ Re-Read

Update 12/3/16: Read my second big update on the #MSTReRead here.

I’m rereading one of my favorite fantasy series, Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, which is comprised of The Dragonbone ChairThe Stone of FarewellTo Green Angel Tower: Part 1, and To Green Angel Tower: Part 2.  (The original paperback edition of To Green Angel Tower had to be split into two parts due to its length. The forthcoming reprints make the series a proper trilogy again, I believe.)

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams

If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s a classic of modern fantasy and which I’ve talked about at some length here before.  George R. R. Martin often cites it as a major inspiration for writing A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series behind HBO’s ubiquitous Game of Thrones.

I’ve read MST many times before, but it’s been a few years since my last re-read.  And since Mr. Williams is releasing five sequels over the next few years, starting with The Heart of What Was Lost (forthcoming in January 2017), to be followed in April by The Witchwood Crown, the first book in the sequel trilogy The Last King of Osten Ard. I thought now was the perfect time for a fresh look at the “four-book trilogy” that in so many ways defined the fantasy genre for me.

You can find more information about Tad Williams and his upcoming Osten Ard novels at  You can also read a lot of great updates and information about Osten Ard and the forthcoming books at The Wertzone.  Larry Ketchersid, an author and contributor at SFSignal, has also written an in-depth reread of MST that’s available both on his website and collected for Kindle for $2.99 (or for free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member).

Rather than doing a more traditional blog re-read, where I would write regular, fairly lengthy blog posts summarizing each chapter or chapters and discussing them, I’ve decided to tweet it all.  Using Twitter not only gives me a quick and easily accessible way to talk about the books, but the 140 character limit also forces me to speak plainly and minimizes the temptation to ramble.

I’ll collect the tweets periodically in blog posts here, but for live updates follow me on Twitter or follow the hashtag #mstreread.

I’ll discuss the story as I read it, but not necessarily comprehensively and certainly not chapter-by-chapter.  Likely, I’ll jump around, vacillating between the general and the specific, moving forward roughly as the story does.

Here are my thoughts on the first two hundred pages or so (Part I) of The Dragonbone Chair:

I Live. The Writing Moves Forward.

Where have I been, you ask?  Why, braving the skirling autumn seas in search of adventure, grasping the elusive MacGuffin Beast by its shaggy throat and wringing from it the bones of story.  I’ve been ’round the Horn and back again, questing with my small, hearty band of ruffians through the dense jungles of Practicality, our spirits united in yearning for the legendary Sensawunda.

I’ve been working, in other words, doing the necessary stuff, getting shit done, laying down a steady beat of responsibility, being all adult AF.  But here’s what’s happening on the writing front.

I’m finishing up The Doktor’s Spyglass, slowly but steadily, and after that I’ll be moving on, both to give myself time away from it before editing the bastard and to relieve my overtaxed brain by writing something totally stupid.  I’ve got a couple of rollicking tales in mind, one of which is started, the other of which is only an idea, but both promise to be a good time in the writing.  I hope they’ll be good for the reading, too.November is almost upon us, believe it or not, and with it NaNoWriMo, which I’ve never properly participated in.  I won’t be starting this year, not officially, but I’ll be doing something similar–something related.  Due to the aforementioned SERIOUS ADULT SHIT, there’s been a relative dearth of writing here, and I aim to change that.  So for the month of November, I will pledge to write every single day.  I’ll set no specific goals as far as word- or page-count.  Rather, I’ll focus on returning to a daily writing schedule and focus simply on the task of putting some amount of words on the page every single day of the week.  Some days that might be a few hundred, others a few thousand, but the end result is that it all adds up and hopefully by the end of the month (stretch goal), Spyglass will be done and I can move on to newer, fresher things.

Stay tuned.  I’ll be using this blog as a journal, so I hope you enjoy it.