Does Tad Williams still have game?

Like many people I was quite taken with Tad Williams Memory, Sorry, and Throne, when they came out in the years around 1990. George R. R. Martin has admitted that Williams’ trilogy helped awaken him to the possibilities of the fantasy genre.

I tried to read his Shadowmarch series, but I didn’t find it as original so gave up after one and a half books. So I was excited for Williams to go back to a world where he seemed to shine. The first reviews for The Witchwood Crown make it seem like it’s actually pretty good, and perhaps even might be better then the original series. Not sure frankly I’ll ever get to reading it, but who knows.

Addendum: In the fall Brandon Sanderson is coming out with Oathbringer, and R. Scott Bakker’s Unholy Consult will be out at the end of July. I preordered the latter because I thought Bakker’s third book in the tetralogy was actually better than the first two so I have hopes the fourth will be best of all.

4 thoughts on “Does Tad Williams still have game?

  1. I bought “The Great Ordeal” last year, read the summary of the previous books (that was a great idea, more books should have one), then decided that I might as well wait for “The Unholy Consult,” which was supposed to be out (relatively) soon, before continuing.

    I’m a bit relieved you liked it better than the others, I loved the Prince of Nothing trilogy but the first two books of the tetralogy left me not exactly indifferent, but close. That was probably because there was so much to wait between books, to be fair.

  2. I’ve been rereading the Otherland series right now, which I liked when I was in college. Indeed, at that time I was a science-fiction snob who wouldn’t read fantasy, and if I didn’t discover Otherland, I never would have read his other books. I’ve been shocked at how limp the late series is compared to what I remembered. Some of the plot strands are plain boring, and his tendency as a writer to “infodump” through monologues and internal thoughts grates over time.

    Shadowmarch was a decent series, but it felt like at times he was trying to “return the favor” to George R.R. Martin by writing more in his style. And he got way, way too far into the fantasy mythos of the fictional world. I mean, I know it’s a hallmark of his work, but if you don’t pay close attention to one of the myths involving the gods, you could be completely lost in the next book.

    I read the Heart of What Was Lost when it came out in January. It was an amazingly short work for a modern fantasy novel – let alone a Tad Williams book. While I thought it was excellent in terms of prose, in terms of plot tension it was amazingly flat, as it was laser-focused on a relatively minor issue within the greater fictional world. It almost felt more like a long-form epilogue to the original trilogy rather than a discrete novel. Kind of like the relationship of Blue Mars to the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson.

  3. Razib,

    I’m a fan of Tad Williams’ earlier Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books, and can confirm that “The Witchwood Crown” is a return to form. As a reader, it’s very nice to be back in Osten Ard. I missed that world, and those characters, especially Simon, Aditu, Sludig and Binabik.

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