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New York Times-bestselling Tad Williams' ground-breaking epic fantasy saga of Osten Ard begins an exciting new cycle! - Volume One of The Last King of Osten Ard The Dragonbone Chair, the first volume of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, was published in hardcover in October, 1988, launching the series that was to become one of the seminal works of modern epic fantasy. Many of toda New York Times-bestselling Tad Williams' ground-breaking epic fantasy saga of Osten Ard begins an exciting new cycle! - Volume One of The Last King of Osten Ard The Dragonbone Chair, the first volume of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, was published in hardcover in October, 1988, launching the series that was to become one of the seminal works of modern epic fantasy. Many of today's top-selling fantasy authors, from Patrick Rothfuss to George R. R. Martin to Christopher Paolini credit Tad with being the inspiration for their own series. Now, twenty-four years after the conclusion of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Tad returns to his beloved universe and characters with The Witchwood Crown, the first novel in the long-awaited sequel trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard. Thirty years have passed since the events of the earlier novels, and the world has reached a critical turning point once again. The realm is threatened by divisive forces, even as old allies are lost, and others are lured down darker paths. Perhaps most terrifying of all, the Norns--the long-vanquished elvish foe--are stirring once again, preparing to reclaim the mortal-ruled lands that once were theirs....


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New York Times-bestselling Tad Williams' ground-breaking epic fantasy saga of Osten Ard begins an exciting new cycle! - Volume One of The Last King of Osten Ard The Dragonbone Chair, the first volume of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, was published in hardcover in October, 1988, launching the series that was to become one of the seminal works of modern epic fantasy. Many of toda New York Times-bestselling Tad Williams' ground-breaking epic fantasy saga of Osten Ard begins an exciting new cycle! - Volume One of The Last King of Osten Ard The Dragonbone Chair, the first volume of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, was published in hardcover in October, 1988, launching the series that was to become one of the seminal works of modern epic fantasy. Many of today's top-selling fantasy authors, from Patrick Rothfuss to George R. R. Martin to Christopher Paolini credit Tad with being the inspiration for their own series. Now, twenty-four years after the conclusion of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Tad returns to his beloved universe and characters with The Witchwood Crown, the first novel in the long-awaited sequel trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard. Thirty years have passed since the events of the earlier novels, and the world has reached a critical turning point once again. The realm is threatened by divisive forces, even as old allies are lost, and others are lured down darker paths. Perhaps most terrifying of all, the Norns--the long-vanquished elvish foe--are stirring once again, preparing to reclaim the mortal-ruled lands that once were theirs....

30 review for The Witchwood Crown (The Last King of Osten Ard, #1) Unabridged Audiobook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    Tad Williams is a master, a true master of epic fantasy. I can only think of perhaps a handful of novels that are this well written in the genre. Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that I’ve not read Tad Williams’ original trilogy, but after this I feel like I ought to. I want to see more of this world. I need to see more of this world. It’s flawless and bleak and magical: it’s easily one of the best fantasy universes created. Why? Because it’s vast and finely crafted, resting on years of hist Tad Williams is a master, a true master of epic fantasy. I can only think of perhaps a handful of novels that are this well written in the genre. Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that I’ve not read Tad Williams’ original trilogy, but after this I feel like I ought to. I want to see more of this world. I need to see more of this world. It’s flawless and bleak and magical: it’s easily one of the best fantasy universes created. Why? Because it’s vast and finely crafted, resting on years of history and lore. My lack of experience with the world of Osten Ard didn’t affect my enjoyment of this book. It’s very friendly to new readers. And that’s really important, for me, fantasy is nothing without rich history to help cement the world building. It acts as a platform for the characters to develop. And I wasn’t overwhelmed by it despite not reading the first three books. The balance is just right. There’s no reason not to make this your next fantasy read! Central to the plot is the on-going struggle between men and Norns. The world of men is ruled by kind-hearted King Simon who is utterly overwhelmed by his burdens. He is surrounded by betrayal (though he doesn’t know it) and his ancient enemies have returned to plague his kingdom. He is beset by petty politics and frustrating courtiers. His son is dead and his heir, his grandson Prince Morgan, is a useless drunkard. And this is where there is the biggest room for growth, Morgan has big things coming his way and he needs to step up because King Simon seems like a man ready to break. I think Morgan is more than he realises. Despite the apparent evilness of the Norns, and the maniacal will of their Queen, I found myself quite invested in their side of the story. They are not all bad. They do not all want to rid the world of men; they are forced to do so by their monarch whose thoughts leech into their brains and drive them forward into battle. And this made the novel real interesting, going forward into the rest of the series, I’m really intrigued to see how this will develop. There’s much more to this immortal race. I find them quite mysterious, and as such their sections of the novel were some of the best. It is a slow book, and it will certainly appeal to readers who like careful fantasy. By careful fantasy I mean books that take their time, slowing letting the plot build up as the characters are revealed in good time. And because of this I think it will directly appeal to readers of Robin Hobb. Like Hobb, Williams has not rushed but has laid the groundwork for something quite grand. There are some big surprises in here, and the next book is sure to take an interesting direction. It’s a book driven by cultural clashes and racial wars. The world is stark and grey, and I’m not entirely sure who to root for. It’s highly compelling fantasy, go read it! _________________________________ You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree. __________________________________

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I'm almost speechless. I mean, reading this long, long book takes me back to all the long, long books of Tad Williams and especially his most well known and beloved original fantasy. (Of which this picks up many years down the line, with Simon the Scullion a grandfather and King of the kingdom.) What this does extremely well: worldbuilding and characters. He takes his time. And I mean, he lets all the characterizations come out gloriously slowly, with rich detail and living in such a world that r I'm almost speechless. I mean, reading this long, long book takes me back to all the long, long books of Tad Williams and especially his most well known and beloved original fantasy. (Of which this picks up many years down the line, with Simon the Scullion a grandfather and King of the kingdom.) What this does extremely well: worldbuilding and characters. He takes his time. And I mean, he lets all the characterizations come out gloriously slowly, with rich detail and living in such a world that runs so deep as to reclassify the term "escapist fiction". We live there. We become one with the world of Osten Ard. Whether we're a Norn, one of the elfish immortals, or of men, we dive really deep into the world. I can't find real good or evil anywhere. Just people of all kinds, be they giants, shapeshifters, any kind of immortal, half-immortal, or of the race of men. It's easy to just "say" this, as well, but Tad Williams shows us in all the glory just how true it is. And then we have the echoes of the undead king, the darkness of magics to come, all the reasons why all these kingdoms are on the path to being laid very, very low, and it all boils down to PEOPLE (of any flavor) doing what they think is right, and still they bring about the greatest evils. Did I mention how much glorious, deep, well-thought-out, detailed worldbuilding is going on here? A taste: Prester John, Herne, echoes of catholicism twisted into undead rituals, elves coming across the sea from far away to live here (rather than the reverse), and a whole immortal ppl lied to and left in poverty... for what? It reminds me of Dragon Age, but let's get real here. Tad Williams' epic came out over twenty years ago and this only continues (gloriously so) the long, long tale. :) I can't say that this fantasy has anywhere near the epic bloodshed and magics that anyone might expect out of today's epic fantasy genre, but when it comes to depth of character, the main story, and worldbuilding... few and perhaps none can compare. Frankly, I'm lost in admiration. It's far from a hard read (aside from the length) and it's easy to fall deep into the good writing. I'm remembering my original response to his first fantasies in just the same way. Truly Excellent!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/07/27/... This was a very long, very dense read, but I really don’t mean that in a negative way. Quite the contrary, in fact; it’s has been a while since I’ve sunk my teeth into an epic fantasy so rich and layered, and it felt incredibly refreshing to fall into a meaty novel like this and just let it consume me completely. The Witchwood Crown is the start of a new series set in the universe of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thor 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/07/27/... This was a very long, very dense read, but I really don’t mean that in a negative way. Quite the contrary, in fact; it’s has been a while since I’ve sunk my teeth into an epic fantasy so rich and layered, and it felt incredibly refreshing to fall into a meaty novel like this and just let it consume me completely. The Witchwood Crown is the start of a new series set in the universe of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, though I believe it would serve as a decent jumping on point for readers new to the author and his books. This was my first experience with his work and I found I was able to follow the story quite easily, excepting some initial confusion over the lore of Osten Ard and the different inhabitants that make the continent their home. Thankfully, in a lengthy novel like this, there’s plenty of world-building and no shortage of opportunities to catch up on all this information so it wasn’t long before I felt totally at ease in this new setting. The story continues the story of King Simon and Queen Miriamele from the previous series, having been married for the last thirty years since the conclusion of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Their grandson Morgan is now the heir apparent, after the death of Simon and Miriamele’s son Prince Josua. With their grief still all too fresh, this causes the aging royal couple to become both overprotective and excessively tough on Morgan, who both yearns for and chafes at the growing responsibilities placed upon his shoulders. Like any young person growing up, he’s trying to find himself but always seems to be getting mixed up into trouble with his rowdy, tavern-hopping friends. Meanwhile, the realm is in danger once again from a threat long since thought vanquished. The Norns, an immortal elf-like race, are rallying together and preparing for an invasion to reclaim the mortal lands for themselves. After falling into disfavor and becoming a sacrifice, a young half-Norn woman named Nezeru is taken along on a journey to fulfill a mission for their queen, and along the way the group encounters a mysterious warrior named Jarnulf who appears to be much more than he claims to be. There are a lot of characters involved but I liked how the narrative introduced them all gradually, making it easier to identify the multiple plot threads and determine which perspectives are the important ones. While Simon and Miriamele are characters that I’m only meeting now for the first time, evidently there’s still plenty of growth and development to be had even though they’re both now into their golden years. The two of them are more in love than ever, but the years have also brought certain new life changes and challenges as their priorities have shifted, and most of their disagreements now have to do with their grandson. Speaking of Prince Morgan, he was another important POV character, not to mention one of the more complex and well-written ones. Unlike Simon, who started from humble beginnings as a kitchen scullion, Morgan was born into a royal life and grew up wanting for nothing. In spite of this, he is something of a shiftless and troubled young man who couldn’t be more different than his driven grandfather. And yet there’s something about him that reminds me of a lost and scared little boy, and reading about his self-doubt just makes me want to wrap him up in a big hug. That said, as a newcomer to this world, I confess it was an interesting experience to be reading the first book of a sequel series, one that I could tell has deep ties to the previous trilogy. While it did not affect my enjoyment overly much, it was at times distracting to be catching little snippets of references to past events and wondering at the full details behind them. The main crux of the story also took a long time to build (for a novel that’s more than 700 pages long, that’s really saying something) and there were rambling sections which I felt could have been trimmed without making too much of an impact on the overall story. Again, this is only my personal opinion as a brand new reader to this world. It’s more than likely that I’m just missing a lot of the nuances, being completely unfamiliar with the events of the previous trilogy, and if you’re an old fan I imagine your experiences will be very different. At the end of the day though, I think it’s safe to say that no matter who you are, as long as you have a love for rich, multilayered epic fantasy then you will certainly develop a deep appreciation for The Witchwood Crown. It’s a heavy novel, both literally and figuratively, containing robust world-building and character development. Exploring complex themes and conflicts, Tad Williams takes a big-picture look at how several generations deal with problems threatening their kingdom, and while the sheer scope of it can feel a little overwhelming at first, a willingness to invest some time and patience in the story will eventually pay off. I feel like I have a stronger, more confident grasp of the world now, and I look forward to continuing with the next book of the series.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bob/Sally

    Sometimes you really can't go home again. I read "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" back in high school, which was 20+ years ago, for those of you trying to do the math. While I don't have strong memories of it, I think I enjoyed it. Otherland didn't work for me at all, but I chalked that up to my not being a fan of the whole virtual reality/gaming/scifi genre. The War of the Flowers was an OK read, but I figured my lack of enthusiasm was due to my preference for epic, multi-volume sagas. In that case, Sometimes you really can't go home again. I read "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" back in high school, which was 20+ years ago, for those of you trying to do the math. While I don't have strong memories of it, I think I enjoyed it. Otherland didn't work for me at all, but I chalked that up to my not being a fan of the whole virtual reality/gaming/scifi genre. The War of the Flowers was an OK read, but I figured my lack of enthusiasm was due to my preference for epic, multi-volume sagas. In that case, Shadowmarch should have been a near-perfect fit, yet I've been stuck on book 3 for years now. I abandoned it, and return to it, and abandoned it more times than I can count. Anyway, that brings us back to The Witchwood Crown. I was looking forward to this, but when the read itself seemed to fall flat, I blamed it on the ugly PDF, wrestled onto an e-reader, format. Call me old-fashioned, but when it comes to epic fantasy I like to hold a big, thick book in my hands, flipping back and forth between maps, glossaries, dramatis personæ, and the story. So, I went out and bought the hardcover for myself . . . and have realized now that maybe it's time to stop looking for excuses. To put it bluntly - and I realize I'm in the minority here - I didn't like it. Honestly. I found this new book to be very slow-moving, with only fleeting moments of excitement. Whether it's something new, or something I blocked from my memory of the original books, the emphasis on the 'new' pseudo-Christian mythology was beyond tedious to the point that it really started to eject me from the narrative. Worst of all, however, I didn't really like any of the characters. As interesting as it was to see Simon and Miriamele grown older, all they've seemed to do is suffer and linger on as royal figureheads. Whatever spark they had in the original saga is sadly absent here. It is Miriamele who bothered me the most, having gone from one the strongest women I can remember in epic fantasy to a sad Shakespearean figure, terrified by dreams, and wallowing in self-pity. Don't even get me started on Prince Morgan, perhaps the most distasteful, most tiresome character Williams has ever crafted. Actually, when it comes down to it, I found the non-human characters far more interesting than any of the humans. I liked the scenes with the Norns quite a bit, and Binabik and his family provided the only real joy of the read - but that fact itself is problematic. Given a choice between old gods and new, occult power struggles and weak political maneuvering, and . . . well, just about any monster and Prince Morgan, I'm kind of hoping humanity falls, because they just don't seem to be worth saving. Anyway, I slogged through several aborted attempts to read The Witchwood Crown, ultimately skimmed ahead, and forced myself to finish it, but I really do wonder why I bothered. Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins

  5. 4 out of 5

    Len Evans Jr

    I loved this book... even at almost 700 pages the author kept me turning page after page long after I should have gone to bed on multiple nights. The characters though many are all so skillfully drawn that you quickly come to know and care about what happens to them. The pace of the plot is measured; yet not too slow... always keeping you hooked. I need to now go back and read the original trilogy to tide me over till the next book in this one is released. A definite must read... check it out w I loved this book... even at almost 700 pages the author kept me turning page after page long after I should have gone to bed on multiple nights. The characters though many are all so skillfully drawn that you quickly come to know and care about what happens to them. The pace of the plot is measured; yet not too slow... always keeping you hooked. I need to now go back and read the original trilogy to tide me over till the next book in this one is released. A definite must read... check it out when it is released in mid-June.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    Some 30 years ago, Tad Williams started his Osten Ard  series with The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and concluded it in 1993 with To Green Angel Tower. I never expected him to return to this wonderful world and characters. Now, we have a long novella The Heart of what was Lost, which picked up some threads directly after the first trilogy, and this new doorstopper of a novel. So, yes dear newcomer, you have to read all the books before this one. Those 30 years gone are also reflected in t Some 30 years ago, Tad Williams started his Osten Ard  series with The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and concluded it in 1993 with To Green Angel Tower. I never expected him to return to this wonderful world and characters. Now, we have a long novella The Heart of what was Lost, which picked up some threads directly after the first trilogy, and this new doorstopper of a novel. So, yes dear newcomer, you have to read all the books before this one. Those 30 years gone are also reflected in the setting - the main characters got old, mayhaps wiser. Imagine a Mooncalf Simon Snowlock established as a renown king of some 50 years old, shouting around at his drunkard grandson! The Duke of Rimmersgard, Isgrimnur, kind of old back then, is now about to die of age. After some 100 pages, the old gang has gathered: Simon, Miriamele, Binabik, Isgrimnur, Tiamak, and Eolair travel around in a state visit in their dominion, which sounds as boring as it reads. Heavily missing are the Sithi Jiriki and Aditu, but that has its reasons. On the antagonist side of the Norn, that mischievous folks are gathering their strength again. We get good insights into the culture, heroic characters, and traditions resembling a template for every roleplaying dark elf. Williams takes his good time to elaborate a tension arc, lets the book start easy, happy, nice, and only Simon's grandson Morgan seems to be a problem child with his drunkard friends - one of them old Sir Porto from the prequel novella - dangling around. But immortal Norn queen Utuk’ku has awakened and prepares for war against the mortals of the realm. She sent out elite warriors to get her the eponymous Witchwood Crown. Also, political unrest drives the southern part of the realm. Only the last third of the book takes up urgency again and develops speed. Take your time and enjoy the slow cruising before taking the roller coaster ride! Because that is, what the last 100 pages will bring you. I feared that I wouldn't be able to return to this beloved epic fantasy world, because I changed myself in the last couple of years. But Tad Williams has outdone himself to picked up the character, changed them in time without loosing the atmosphere of the first books. He transported me back again to Osten Ard without headaches. Oh joy! I recommend this to readers who need a different taste in their diet of dark, gritty, near pornish Fantasy worlds of GRRM, Lawrence, or Abercrombie, who want to go for a lighter reading without loosing complex settings, characters, and plots.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    This is definitely the best fantasy book that I've read in years. It definitely gets 5 out of 5 stars from me on Goodreads, and a score of 10 out of 10 on my own personal scoring system. :) (Full review coming soon) This is definitely the best fantasy book that I've read in years. It definitely gets 5 out of 5 stars from me on Goodreads, and a score of 10 out of 10 on my own personal scoring system. :) (Full review coming soon)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    The Witchwood Crown continues Tad Williams’ seminal fantasy trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn while standing equally tall on its own in a more crowded book market, starting a new trilogy called The Last King of Osten Ard. 1988 was a different time for those massive tomes, and this first volume of the new trilogy knows that. Instead of blindly repeating the threat of the original trilogy or copy-pasting in a new one, The Witchwood Crown takes the much more interesting route of being a sequel abou The Witchwood Crown continues Tad Williams’ seminal fantasy trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn while standing equally tall on its own in a more crowded book market, starting a new trilogy called The Last King of Osten Ard. 1988 was a different time for those massive tomes, and this first volume of the new trilogy knows that. Instead of blindly repeating the threat of the original trilogy or copy-pasting in a new one, The Witchwood Crown takes the much more interesting route of being a sequel about how history can repeat if we aren’t careful to learn from our past. Think World War I only leading to World War II, with a small peace between. The original trilogy dealt with the elf-like Norns and their Big Bad type Storm King, victims in the past of genocide at the hands of human invaders, threatening to do the same by exterminating the human race. The new trilogy manages to reintroduce the Norns as antagonists with a well-developed characterization and society of their own while upping the scale of the threat considerably. No spoilers on that front here, but readers of the original trilogy may have a good idea of what that threat could be. Instead of shoving the old characters out of the limelight to hand over the reigns to a young and sexy cast (like so many TV and film reboots), or shock killing them off early on to score some Game of Thrones imitator gravitas, The Witchwood Crown makes them central players alongside a new cast. The book itself is a blending of the old and new styles of popular fantasy: there are adventures in astonishingly described locales, comedy that had me chuckling, and youthful innocence; there is also a harder tone to the violence, there are backstabbing political machinations, and scenes of melancholy. There are about sixteen point of views throughout the book located in a handful of diverse locations across the land of Osten Ard, so Williams can switch effortlessly between story types, tones, and styles. Riots, potential civil war, old allies turning their coats, the Norns preparing for war again, trade battles, cults...the book has a little of everything. More importantly, this new book not only manages to carry on the tradition of older fantasy while blending it with the new, it manages to have something human to say. A grand emotion or a theme. Most of Williams’ work does. That might not seem like much, but when too many writers are intent on throwing out RPG spreadsheets or, on the other hand, grimdark violence, it’s rare to read something with big ideas to match its big locations and creatures that can still be entertaining. Just because a bunch of armies came together and fought a big battle together doesn’t mean the animosity between the factions vanishes for good. Just because one battle ends and peace is declared doesn’t mean that peace is forever. Again: think World War I to World War II. And just as in that real world history, by the end of The Witchwood Crown the entire land of Osten Ard seems primed to explode at each other based on fear, lies, and greed rooted in past hurts. At the opening of the first part (a nice touch—each of the three sections of the book is named after the debris of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn’s war: Widows, Orphans, and Exiles), the backbone of the book (and presumably the trilogy) is summed up with a poem by Hsu Chao: Locusts laid their eggs in the corpse Of a soldier. When the worms were Mature, they took wing. Their drone Was ominous, their shells hard. Anyone could tell they had hatched From an unsatisfied anger. With all of this to praise, The Witchwood Crown is an easy recommend to both new readers and fans of Williams: a great start to what could be a new classic trilogy. This review is made possible via digital ARC provided by Penguin’s First to Read program.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    So good to be back in Osten Ard! Around 30 years passed since The Dragonbone Chair was published and the same in the Saga. Simon and Miri are now High King and Queen of the realm and also grandparents. Tiamak settled in Hayholt, Binabik and Sisqi have a daughter of their own and a delicious future son-in-law. The Norns are having their own story, on par with the humans. A lot has changed since the Battle of Nakkiga and after 30 years of peace, the clouds are gathering again, and whispers of a new So good to be back in Osten Ard! Around 30 years passed since The Dragonbone Chair was published and the same in the Saga. Simon and Miri are now High King and Queen of the realm and also grandparents. Tiamak settled in Hayholt, Binabik and Sisqi have a daughter of their own and a delicious future son-in-law. The Norns are having their own story, on par with the humans. A lot has changed since the Battle of Nakkiga and after 30 years of peace, the clouds are gathering again, and whispers of a new war are becoming louder. Evil gods long forgotten are rising and humans must prepare again for the worst. Unlike the previous trilogy, where mostly we follow the path of Simon and his friends, here are a multitude of points of view, including new very interesting characters, apparently not related to the main thread in the beginning. The worldbuilding is superb, full of even richer details than in the first series. The writing is as astonishing as ever, the pace slow but not a moment boring - things are getting more complicated and convoluted with each page. The end brings a complete surprise, one which I did not expect, and I was left counting the days till the next release. If you plan to pick this one up, I strongly suggest to start with the first trilogy, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and read also the novella in between, The Heart of What Was Lost. You’ll understand it way better, because there are a lot of references not fully explained here from the previous series. That being said, I think Tad Williams is one of the greatest worldbuilders and storytellers that I have had the pleasure to read so far. If you love The Lord of the Rings, you’ll love this one too.

  10. 4 out of 5

    GrilledCheeseSamurai (Scott)

    Well...shit. I finished. What a ride. I mean, I first re-read the entirety of the original trilogy, Memory Sorrow & Thorn, then whipped through the novel that bridges the old trilogy with this new one, The Heart Of What Was Lost, and now I have just finished this book, The Witchwood Crown, which is the first book of the new trilogy, The Last King Of Osten Ard. Seriously, I have spent so much time reading Tad Williams words lately that I feel like he and I are best friends now. Like, maybe I shoul Well...shit. I finished. What a ride. I mean, I first re-read the entirety of the original trilogy, Memory Sorrow & Thorn, then whipped through the novel that bridges the old trilogy with this new one, The Heart Of What Was Lost, and now I have just finished this book, The Witchwood Crown, which is the first book of the new trilogy, The Last King Of Osten Ard. Seriously, I have spent so much time reading Tad Williams words lately that I feel like he and I are best friends now. Like, maybe I should at least buy the guy a beer or something for all his hard work. Wait. Fuck that! It should be that he owes ME a beer because I'm the one that just read a gazillion and one page's of his words and I'll tell ya one thing for free and certain...dude is a wordy son of a bitch and those books be looooooong! Who am I kidding though. I loved every single sentence. The Witchwood Crown was everything that I wanted it to be! It had that classic fantasy feeling that the original series had but yet felt new and important and stands shoulder to shoulder with all the more modern works of speculative fiction coming out these days. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Tad Williams is a Word Wizard! The guy can tell a story like nobody's business and although his books are long and descriptive they never once feel slow or bogged down to me. Through his narrative, Tad has created a world that feels more alive than any other world I have spent time in whilst reading a book. The Witchwood Crown, obviously, only helps to increase the depth and richness of Osten Ard in ways that...well...to be frank...completely blew my mind. MS&T was really a coming of age story, as a lot of classic fantasy is. The Witchwood Crown still explores those themes, but now because of the length of time that has passed in Osten Ard, we are now exploring the idea of growing older and looking back on our lives as well. I love how Tad didn't just take the heroes from his first series and use them as bookends in this new tale. They are still relevant, they are still vital and they are still just as important as the new cast of characters that we are introduced to. Lot's of times (think the new Star Wars movies) it feels like classic characters are just thrown in there as a gimmick or as an homage to what they have previously accomplished. While I suppose I am okay with this, that isn't the case with this story. The old still have much to do, are still integral to the plot and their stories are far from finished. This does not, however, overshadow the importance of the new cast of (younger) characters that we are introduced to. They all most certainly have their place as well, and this story is as much theirs as it is the seasoned veterans. I also love how Tad has blurred the lines between good and evil. What we thought of as right and wrong in the original trilogy is tipped ass over teakettle in this new book. I found myself rooting for people(s) that I wouldn't have thought possible when I read the original trilogy and now some of the folk that I really liked in the earlier books I find a bit more sinister (or at least bull-headed) in this new one. It's all really confusing (in a good way) for me in who I should actually be rooting for! I mean, I want the good guys to win of course, but fuck me if I can be absolutely certain on who the good guys actually are! Book of the year? Yeah. Probably. I mean...it's Tad Williams. I'm a fanboy. Always have been always will be. And I'll tell ya what - those last 150 pages or so...fuck me! I need that next book NOW!! Bravo, Tad! You have done it again! Thanks for the story, I was most certainly entertained from the very beginning to the very end!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    OMG, I can't wait for another Tad Williams trilogy! OMG, I can't wait for another Tad Williams trilogy!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    After many years, our beloved Tad Williams turns his gaze back on the magical world of Osten Ard where the particularly important trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is played. But even there, a long time has passed, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge, our heroes have grown, have children and grandchildren, had sorrows and joys, but generally they have been peaceful for years and were expecting a quiet old age. In the end, however, things do not seem to be going so smoothly with problems e After many years, our beloved Tad Williams turns his gaze back on the magical world of Osten Ard where the particularly important trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is played. But even there, a long time has passed, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge, our heroes have grown, have children and grandchildren, had sorrows and joys, but generally they have been peaceful for years and were expecting a quiet old age. In the end, however, things do not seem to be going so smoothly with problems emerging in many areas at a time when the great danger from the north seems to be returning to avenge the defeat. So the question immediately arises whether the younger generation is capable of succeeding with the help of the old guard. All of this in a book expectingly by the author's value is an excellent example of high fantasy. All we need is somewhere in its pages, an interesting story that is revealed to us at the right pace, just as interesting characters with the size of the book and the great descriptions allow us to get to know them better, as well as better we learn about a few more areas of this world. But beyond that, the writer seizes the opportunity to make us reflect on the all-conquering time, the responsibility of power, and the constant wild conflict of logic with feeling. So, as you understand, we have something that I imagine will please his fans and the fans of the genre more than my clichéd comment, as I did. Patience now until the release of part two. Μετά από πολλά χρόνια ο αγαπητός μας Tad Williams στρέφει ξανά το βλέμμα του στον μαγικό κόσμο του Osten Ard όπου διαδραματίστηκε η ιδιαίτερα σημαντική τριλογία Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Ακόμα και εκεί όμως έχει περάσει πολύς χρόνος, έχει κυλήσει πολύ νερό στο αυλάκι, οι ήρωές μας μεγάλωσαν, απέκτησαν παιδιά και εγγόνια, γνώρισαν λύπες και χαρές, γενικά όμως γνώρισαν ειρηνικά χρόνια και περιμένανε να έχουν ήσυχα γεράματα. Τελικά όμως τα πράγματα δεν φαίνεται να εξελίσσονται και τόσο ειρηνικά με προβλήματα να ξεφυτρώνουν σε πολλές περιοχές την ώρα που ο μεγάλος κίνδυνος από το βορρά φαίνεται να επιστρέφει για να πάρει εκδίκηση για την ήττα του. Οπότε αμέσως προκύπτει το ερώτημα αν η νεότερη γενιά είναι ικανή με τη βοήθεια της παλιάς φρουράς να τα καταφέρει. Όλα αυτά σε ένα βιβλίο που αναμενόμενα με βάση την αξία του συγγραφέα είναι ένα άριστο δείγμα του είδους της υψηλής φαντασίας. Ότι χρειαζόμαστε είναι κάπου μέσα στις σελίδες του, μία ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορία που μας αποκαλύπτεται με το σωστό ρυθμό, εξίσου ενδιαφέροντες χαρακτήρες που το μέγεθος του βιβλίου και οι μεγάλες περιγραφές μας επιτρέπει να τους γνωρίσουμε καλύτερα, όπως και καλύτερα γνωρίζουμε λίγες ακόμα περιοχές αυτού του κόσμου. Πέρα από αυτά όμως, ο συγγραφέας αρπάζει την ευκαιρία για να μας κάνει να προβληματιστούμε για τον χρόνο τον πανδαμάτωρ, την ευθύνη της εξουσίας και την μόνιμη άγρια σύγκρουση της λογικής με το συναίσθημα. Οπότε, όπως καταλαβαίνετε, έχουμε να κάνουμε είναι κάτι που φαντάζομαι ότι θα ικανοποιήσει τους θαυμαστές του και τους οπαδούς του είδους περισσότερο από το γεμάτο κλισέ σχόλιο μου, όπως ικανοποίησε και εμένα. Υπομονή τώρα μέχρι την κυκλοφορία του δεύτερου μέρους.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    George R.R. Martin said that Tad Williams' original Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy was one of the things that pushed him to start writing A Game of Thrones. At times, the Witchwood Crown feels like Tad Williams is taking inspiration from George R.R. Martin. Not to say that everybody in Osten Ard is now a foul-mouthed, brothel-frequenting hedge knight; nor are there shocking massacres. (At least not yet.) But this time around, everything in Osten Ard seems more ... complicated. The story picks u George R.R. Martin said that Tad Williams' original Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy was one of the things that pushed him to start writing A Game of Thrones. At times, the Witchwood Crown feels like Tad Williams is taking inspiration from George R.R. Martin. Not to say that everybody in Osten Ard is now a foul-mouthed, brothel-frequenting hedge knight; nor are there shocking massacres. (At least not yet.) But this time around, everything in Osten Ard seems more ... complicated. The story picks up a couple of generations after the end of To Green Angel Tower. Simon and Miriamele still rule, albeit not from the Dragonbone Chair -- King Simon refuses to sit in that thing. The intervening years seem to have been generally uneventful, but all contact has been lost with the elves (yes, I know that's not what they're called), the Norns (who were driven back to their ancient stronghold in the short interstitial novel The Heart of What Was Lost) are getting restive, and the king's grandson & heir, Morgan (his father was born, wed, had children and died entirely offscreen between the two trilogies) is a wastrel, dedicating his time & effort to drinking & wenching in company with some of his household knights (including Sir Porto, who was first introduced in The Heart of What Was Lost), much to his grandparents' (and mother's) chagrin. Then an elf messenger is found riddled with poisoned arrows and on the verge of death, and, well, things start happening. As always with this sort of book, there's not a lot of point in trying to summarize the events, especially of the first volume -- the story shifts between a number of groups of characters whose connections to each other aren't always completely clear at first, and the wheels within wheels within wheels are just beginning to turn. And yes, the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger (and with one shocking revelation). (And I was also at times reminded of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in that a fair amount of what happens was the passing of the torch to a new generation of protagonists.) But I was very happy to return to Osten Ard and revisit old friends (Simon and Miriamele and, of course, Binabik and many others) and make new friends (Morgan and his sister Lillia, and Snenneq, Binabik's son-in-law-to-be and many others). And it was nice to see that things have gotten more complicated -- the protagonists are not without their flaws, and the antagonists are not without their virtues; and the Norns, rather than being a faceless horde, get several point-of-view characters who manage to give their viewpoint a not-entirely-unsympathetic portrayal. And I'll be very happy to read the second volume and see how all of the different threads begin to overlap and tug at each other.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Once again such an awesome story! The bad guys are never just bad, and really believe they are doing the right thing. The good guys are never just good, but can be a true pain in the ass. I love how this book tells both the story of Morgan, son of King Simon, and that of several of the Norns. I'm really sad the release date of this book has been postponed for a year. [reread] As it has been a long while since I read that first draft, I had forgotten most of the story (as is my wont). It's still an a Once again such an awesome story! The bad guys are never just bad, and really believe they are doing the right thing. The good guys are never just good, but can be a true pain in the ass. I love how this book tells both the story of Morgan, son of King Simon, and that of several of the Norns. I'm really sad the release date of this book has been postponed for a year. [reread] As it has been a long while since I read that first draft, I had forgotten most of the story (as is my wont). It's still an awesome book! And it will be out very soon now, so go and put in a pre-order!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    So incredible to have new Osten Ard stories to read! From the very first chapter, this return to the much-loved world of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is just as enthralling and magical as it was 25 years ago. Reading about the beloved old characters is exactly like meeting dear friends you've been apart from for far too long: instantly comfortable, heartwarming, and exciting as you learn what they've been up to and how things have changed. Equally wonderful is the introduction of brand-new character So incredible to have new Osten Ard stories to read! From the very first chapter, this return to the much-loved world of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is just as enthralling and magical as it was 25 years ago. Reading about the beloved old characters is exactly like meeting dear friends you've been apart from for far too long: instantly comfortable, heartwarming, and exciting as you learn what they've been up to and how things have changed. Equally wonderful is the introduction of brand-new characters, who are clearly destined to be future favorites. Fans of the original MS&T trilogy will be in heaven here! And newcomers will be thrilled by this new classic series from a ground-breaking author of intelligent, entertaining high fantasy. Tad's world-building is second to none. From the beginning, you are stepping into a living and breathing world with a multi-layered, dark history that's evident in every twist of the plot. He's also a master of writing complex, sympathetic characters who seem to live beyond the page, drawing you into their thoughts, feelings, motivations, and plans—regardless of whether those plans are "good" or "evil." One of my favorite things about this new series (and also the novella that preceded it, The Heart of What Was Lost) is getting a closer, more personal look at the characters who were on the "dark side" in the original trilogy, the Norns. Here Tad uses his talents to show us how the world appears from their point of view, adding many facets and a fascinating depth to history, events, and motivations. The story moves along at addicting pace, spanning far-flung reaches of Osten Ard and encompassing a host of entertaining and intriguing characters of various races and backgrounds. Suffice it to say that although it's a very long book (because it's a Tad book, of course!), I found myself at the end far too soon, already impatient to find out what happens next. It's really wonderful to have the rest of this series to look forward to! In fact, I received this book as an ARC from the publishers (probably because they could feel my anticipatory fidgets shaking the foundation of the earth from afar), and still I'm counting down to the release date so I can read it again, in its final and most glorious form. I really can't wait.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    *If you haven't read the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books - this review does contain some mild spoilers for that series* This book is the first in a new series by Tad Williams that is set in the same world as his Osten Ard books. It is set about 30 years after the ending of the final Memory, Sorrow and Thorn book, and follows the reign of King Simon and Queen Mirriamel alongside the stories of some of their friends, children, grandchildren and allies. What I really enjoyed about this book compared *If you haven't read the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books - this review does contain some mild spoilers for that series* This book is the first in a new series by Tad Williams that is set in the same world as his Osten Ard books. It is set about 30 years after the ending of the final Memory, Sorrow and Thorn book, and follows the reign of King Simon and Queen Mirriamel alongside the stories of some of their friends, children, grandchildren and allies. What I really enjoyed about this book compared to the other Osten Ard books, is the MASSIVE improvement in writing style. This book is still a bit of a behemoth, very lengthy indeed, but this never felt like a slow read to me, whereas the first three books definitely all have moments of slow reading. Tad Williams has come an awful long way from the writer he started out as, and by this point in his career he really knows how to start a story with a punch and keep the reader interested throughout the story. The addition of more women and girls into the story (this time handled a LOT better than those in his previous series) was also something I really enjoyed. We have some moments still where some characters could be better, but their flaws make them likeable and as a whole the ladies of this book were WAY cooler and much more interesting than the ladies in the previous series. So much so, in fact, that I cannot wait to see how this series plays out in the end. We have so much more intrigue in this one. The story of the Norns and the growing malevolence from the first book is suddenly flipped from good vs evil into grey areas on all sides. I loved having a PoV character from the Norns, and seeing how they built up their society and rewarded/harmed the citizens. Getting to discover the plans of the foe, and the humanity that is present within some of the Norns, it opened up a whole new dynamic for the world and made it just far more exciting to read. I genuinely really enjoyed the read-through of this, and would once again highly recommend the audio version as it was well done indeed. A solid start to a series which expands upon the M,S&T books and world in a fabulous way. The cliff-hanger ending left me wanting more, and I am highly intrigued about who is really good or bad as the series goes on! 4.5*s

  17. 4 out of 5

    Johan

    Re-read #2: It only gets better with each re-read. The scope is massive, and so much happens off the page that you have to guess, and worry, about. Dangerous knowledge, dangerous trusts... I despair about the outcome of the story. Love it! Re-read: Still love it, so much going on, so much mystery, so many questions...! Original review below. - The high King and Queen of Osten Ard are on a tour of their country, visiting their friends and allies in Hernystir and Rimmersgard. But not all who welcome t Re-read #2: It only gets better with each re-read. The scope is massive, and so much happens off the page that you have to guess, and worry, about. Dangerous knowledge, dangerous trusts... I despair about the outcome of the story. Love it! Re-read: Still love it, so much going on, so much mystery, so many questions...! Original review below. - The high King and Queen of Osten Ard are on a tour of their country, visiting their friends and allies in Hernystir and Rimmersgard. But not all who welcome them are friends... Suspect activities, dark rumours, and eventually an encounter with the deadly and secretive Norns call the royal entourage home early. Meanwhilst, their allies the Sithi are mysteriously silent. And that's just the beginning of the story. A story that draws on all the wonders, and all the terror, of this magical world. The Witchwood Crown is the continuation of the trilogy Memory, Sorrow & Thorn + the short novel published earlier this year: The Heart of What Was Lost. But it isn't necessary to have read those to read this book. Whereas the old trilogy is a buildungsroman, and much of the early story is told through the eyes of the hero, this time there are multiple, equally important, storylines from the beginning. This makes sense, since many of the mysteries of the world were revealed in the original trilogy, and the author can't pretend that old readers haven't already lived through those discoveries. New readers are introduced to Osten Ard gently, and in a way that isn't tiresome to old fans. Naturally, old characters are reintroduced in this book, though they have aged more than three decades. But there is at least an equal part of new important characters. We get to see the Norns up close and personal, and we also get more insight into the Thrithing clans. The theme of the story has changed from the original trilogy of the kitchen boy thrown into adventure to discover his own self, into a more familial and pensive approach to the goings on. The King and Queen keep a close eye on their offspring and subjects, though admittedly the King has to be reigned in a bit by his spouse. The secrets and mysteries that drive the plot are uncovered slowly and carefully. Not many realisations are acquired without much resistance. After all, why should we believe the world is different than what we have always known? I love this book (and the previous ones) for the care and nourishment poured into them by the author. A well-developed world allows for a convincing story, however magical it might be. The characters are also supremely real and easy to like. The publication of the next book, Empire of Grass, cannot come soon enough!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Librad

    I was one of the lucky people that got to read an ARC of the Witchwood Crown - and yes, it was very very lucky. And don't worry... I'll not put any spoilers in the below!! Having read - and loved - the MST books (the earlier series set in the same world of Osten Ard), I was so happy to be able to go back into this world, as well as slightly nervous - you know the feeling of returning to a place where you have such good memories and how often it disappoints - I was, however, not disappointed at al I was one of the lucky people that got to read an ARC of the Witchwood Crown - and yes, it was very very lucky. And don't worry... I'll not put any spoilers in the below!! Having read - and loved - the MST books (the earlier series set in the same world of Osten Ard), I was so happy to be able to go back into this world, as well as slightly nervous - you know the feeling of returning to a place where you have such good memories and how often it disappoints - I was, however, not disappointed at all, the only disappointment I had was that this book wasn't twice as thick.... Within a couple of pages I was immersed in my favourite world of Osten Ard... Yes the same world, but somehow grown up, my favourite characters from the previous series were there as well, all grown up. It is funny how much it felt like a parallel; the first time I read MST I was 16, not that much older than Simon and Miriamele... now at age 40 I'm reading about them slightly older than me... Of course we're introduced to a whole list of new characters, as well as meeting back up with old and known characters. However, what I loved most about this book is how the feeling is the same... yes the well known characters are older and some are gone or going, yes there are a lot of new characters to get to know, yes we see much more of the Norns and their world (slight spoiler there for you), but the pure feeling of the book is the same as the first series. The story drags you in and doesn't let go, the flow is superb even though you're following several main characters' stories, and as with all of Tad's characters, you either loved them right from the start, or you slowly learn to. I know I'm referring back to the previous series quite a lot, but (even though I would tell you to go and read those books as well) I can definitely see how this book could be read without having any previous knowledge of Osten Ard and the well-known characters. It would only be the difference between knowing another family from your birth, or getting to know them at a later age. Both will give you just as much joy. I'm, very near spoilers now, because I only just finished this book minutes ago, so I'll leave you with the below.... but once it's all sunk in, I might come back for some more! Finally, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone... ... whether you've been an Osten Ard lover from the first books - this book will not disappoint you, it will immerse you back into that world in a beautiful way.... ... whether you are an Osten Ard newbie - read your way into a beautiful world with characters that you'll love...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nadine

    Maybe a 4.5? I don't know why Willams' books take so long for me to finish! I loved being back in this world from the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series and seeing all the characters dear to me again. You can really see how the writing and the overall story telling improved from the original series to this book and I can't wait to get more! Full review up soon Maybe a 4.5? I don't know why Willams' books take so long for me to finish! I loved being back in this world from the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series and seeing all the characters dear to me again. You can really see how the writing and the overall story telling improved from the original series to this book and I can't wait to get more! Full review up soon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patrick St-Denis

    If you have read my review of The Heart of What Was Lost, you probably recall just how great it was for me to finally return to the world of Osten Ard. I read To Green Angel Tower when it originally came out, so I've been waiting for a very long to discover what happens next. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn turned out to be a seminal work of fantasy, one of the very best of its era. Like countless Tad Williams fans, I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into The Witchwood Crown. In the end, The Heart of Wha If you have read my review of The Heart of What Was Lost, you probably recall just how great it was for me to finally return to the world of Osten Ard. I read To Green Angel Tower when it originally came out, so I've been waiting for a very long to discover what happens next. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn turned out to be a seminal work of fantasy, one of the very best of its era. Like countless Tad Williams fans, I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into The Witchwood Crown. In the end, The Heart of What Was Lost was the perfect companion book for anyone who loved Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, as well as the perfect setup book for The Last King of Osten Ard trilogy. Still, the novel was nothing more than a vignette, a brief episode focusing on the Siege of Nakkiga. The Witchwood Crown takes place three decades later and is the opening chapter in a brand new series featuring protagonists that we have learned to love and a huge cast of new characters. Understandably, expectations are extremely high for this new trilogy. Given how long it took for the author to finally elect to write this sequel, we could expect nothing less. Not since the Dune sequels were announced has a new SFF series been so eagerly anticipated. Lofty expectations can be tricky things, however. And considering how beloved Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn has continued to be over the years, let's just say that The Last King of Osten Ard has very big shoes to fill. If you've been hanging around these parts for a while, you should know by now that I've always been a big Tad Williams fan. Regardless of the shortcomings that certain readers find so annoying and/or off-putting, I've always managed to overlook them and enjoy Williams' books/series. I mean, I'm aware of these perceived weaknesses, but Tad Williams has always found a way to scratch my itch, no matter if it's epic fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, or everything else in between. I was so excited about The Witchwood Crown that I once claimed that if George R. R. Martin's The Winds of Winter and Williams' latest came out on the same day (not going to happen, of course, but just for the sake of argument), I'd probably read the latter first. Thanks to the author, his wife Deborah, and the good folks at Daw Books, I was one of the first reviewers to receive an advance reading copy. I wanted to get a review up as soon as possible, so I started reading it right away. By the second evening, I knew something was wrong. Quite wrong. I wasn't feeling it. At all. This book was a veritable chore to go through. The slog of slogs. I persevered, hoping that it would get better as the story progressed. Alas, to no avail. I actually put the novel down twice, each time for a couple of weeks, because I didn't want the first review online to be luke-warm at best. Had it been written by anyone but Tad Williams, I would have stopped reading before reaching the halfway point. Yet the author has wowed me so often in the past that I simply couldn't quit. Eventually, I did pick it up again and reached the end. And it does get a little better. But the sad truth remains that, in my humble opinion (and that's worth what it's worth) The Witchwood Crown is Tad Williams' weakest work to date. In many ways, it is to the author what Crossroads of Twilight was to Robert Jordan. And the Jordan may have been better. I kid you not. . . Here's the blurb: The Dragonbone Chair, the first volume of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, was published in hardcover in October, 1988, launching the series that was to become one of the seminal works of modern epic fantasy. Many of today’s top-selling fantasy authors, from Patrick Rothfuss to George R. R. Martin to Christopher Paolini credit Tad with being the inspiration for their own series. Now, twenty-four years after the conclusion of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Tad returns to his beloved universe and characters with The Witchwood Crown, the first novel in the long-awaited sequel trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard. Thirty years have passed since the events of the earlier novels, and the world has reached a critical turning point once again. The realm is threatened by divisive forces, even as old allies are lost, and others are lured down darker paths. Perhaps most terrifying of all, the Norns—the long-vanquished elvish foe—are stirring once again, preparing to reclaim the mortal-ruled lands that once were theirs… Not surprisingly, the worldbuilding is head and shoulders above what is the norm in today's speculative fiction market. In that regard, The Witchwood Crown showcases a Tad Williams writing at the top of his game. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn was vast in scope and vision and this new series builds on storylines that already echoed with depth. Several new dimensions are added to what has always been a multilayered work of fiction, and on this front at least the first volume of The Last King of Osten Ard delivers. The Sithi and the Norns are not your typical elf-like race, and for some reason Williams is the only fantasy author who can bring out the darker nature of the fairy folk in such a fashion. To finally get the chance to discover more about the inner workings of the Norn society was undoubtedly the most fascinating aspect of The Heart of What Was Lost. Thirty years later, the plans that were put in motion in the heart of Nakkiga are bearing fruit and we learn even more about them. And now that Queen Utuk'ku has awakened, the world is about to find out that the Hikeda'ya are not the vanquished foe so many people believed them to be. Those hoping to find out more about the Sithi are bound to be disappointed. Sadly, we see very little of them, and most of the scenes involving the Sithi occur near the very end of the book. As far as geography is concerned, the tale occurs in various locales all over Osten Ard. Indeed, certain plotlines take place in the far north, in Nakkiga, Rimmersgard, the Frostmarch, and Hernystir. Others occur in Erkynland, mostly focusing on the Hayholt. Nabban and the Thrithing lands are also the stage for what appear to be major storylines. Finally, the Aldheorte forest is another locale we return to. As you can see, The Witchwood Crown is a far-reaching novel that covers a lot of ground, which is something that doesn't necessarily always work in the book's favor. One of the principal shortcomings of this book is the decidedly weak political intrigue. As I mentioned in my review of Shadowmarch way back when, Tad Williams excels in many different aspects when it comes to writing novels, but politicking is definitely not one of them. This was true then, and sadly it's true now. Instead of playing to his strengths, likely to have more appeal to fans of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and other politically-involved fantasy series, Williams put political intrigue at the heart of a number of important plot threads. Which, due to the clumsiness of such intrigues, puts the Hernystir, the Nabban, and the Thrithing plotlines on very shaky ground. Add to that the fact that Simon makes for a particularly inept and occasionally dumb High King who has surrounded himself with not necessarily the brightest of people at court, and you have an incompetent government so totally unprepared to deal with any sort of crisis that it is second only to the Donald Trump administration in that regard. All in all, since a large part of the novel hinges precisely on political intrigue, it can be quite a setback at times. As I've said before, not everyone can be a politicking master like Martin, Katherine Kurtz, or Jacqueline Carey. Tad Williams took quite a risk when he chose to go down that path. Time will tell if he can pull it off. But based on The Witchwood Crown, it will be an uphill battle and the odds are stacked against him. The novel's biggest flaw is the characterization, which is habitually one of the aspects in which Williams truly shines. This facet leaves a lot to be desired. Moreover, The Witchwood Crown is a veritable mess of points of view. Sometimes, less is more. I'm convinced that this book would have benefited from a lesser number of perspectives. Do you recall how George R. R. Martin took some heat when A Feast For Crows was released due to the fact that many readers opined that there were simply too many POV protagonists in the series? And then A Dance With Dragons added even more. Well, I've lost track of exactly how many perspectives there are, but The Witchwood Crown features about as many points of view as GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire taken as a whole. And that is way too much for a single novel. It can be confusing, at times downright boring, and it bogs down the narrative with pointless scenes that go nowhere. Why Tad Williams elected to introduce readers to so many disparate characters and give them their own POV in the very first volume of the series, I'll never know. But it does kill momentum, time and time again, as you skip from an interesting plotline to an unnecessary conversation or info-dump that brings little or nothing to the tale. Introducing the cast is all well and good. But like Martin and other SFF authors, Williams could have waited and shared their perspectives in subsequent installments. As things stand, there are way too many cooks in the kitchen. This precludes any kind of tight focus on any of the storylines, and in the long run this hurts the book in a myriad of ways. The Witchwood Crown also suffers from a manifestly poor cast. Simon and Miriamele are only shadows of who they once were in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Middle age has enfeebled and made them fearful. Especially Miriamele, which was such a strong female lead in the first series, has become a somewhat weak woman who's terrified if Simon has a bad dream. How such a couple with a deficient court held on to power for so long defies comprehension. How they could remain so unaware of what goes on in and around their kingdom was definitely shocking. Prince Morgan, heir to the High Throne, is another great disappointment. I'm acutely aware that Williams is setting him up as a complete dumbass so that we can experience his transformation and root for him when he finally has his coming-of-age moment. Problem is, as the heir, Morgan should have been exposed to life at court and all that it encompasses from a young age. Simon and Miriamele, who go on and on and on about how much of a disappointment the youth turned out to, do absolutely nothing to remedy the situation. POV protagonists include familiar faces like Tiamak, Eolair, Viyeki (now High Magister of the Order of the Builders), and Pasevalles. There are plenty of newcomers, chief among them Tzoja, mortal slave wife to Viyeki, their daughter Nezeru (now one of the Queen's Talons), Jarnulf the White Hand (by far the most interesting character of the bunch), Unver of the Thrithring-folks, and Jesa (nurse to Duke Saluceris of Nabban's infant daughter). Simply put, that's just too many POVs. Another thing that might irk some readers is that a lot of female characters, at least as far as this novel is concerned, are somewhat vapid dead-ends. Tad Williams is a notorious slow starter. Always has been and probably always will be. All of his series have suffered from long bouts of sluggish rhythm, and The Witchwood Crown could well be his slowest-paced work to date. I kept wondering when the tale would finally kick into high gear, yet the vast number of points of view prevented that from ever taking place. With the Bobby Dollar books, Williams proved that he could keep the rhythm more or less fluid. Urban fantasy is a different genre, but I was hoping that he had learned from his past errors and would apply those lessons when pacing the new series. Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be. Those who were frustrated by the snail's pace of novels like The Dragonbone Chair will likely find little to love about this new book. It is a tedious read, every step of the way. There are some good scenes and storylines, mind you. And yet, it's a chore to get through to them because very little actually happens in most chapters and all the good stuff is buried so deeply under extraneous and superfluous scenes that it robs them of most of the desired impact. I've always been a big fan, but I've never had such a hard time reading anything by Tad Williams. Honestly, so many sequences could have been truncated or excised altogether. A trimmed down version of The Witchwood Crown, let's say minus 150 pages or so, would probably have been a much better read. Another problem is that The Witchwood Crown is little more than a vast introduction to an even bigger and more complex tale. As such, it introduces a panoply of characters, concepts, and plot threads. Yet it offers very little in terms of resolution. Though they were part of a trilogy, I always felt that all three installments that comprised Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn stood well on their own. Not so for the first volume of The Last King of Osten Ard. I expected something gripping and exciting to close the show. After all, a review from someone involved in the production of The Witchwood Crown promised a showdown as awesome as the grand finale of George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords. Hence, I kept hoping, turning those pages, slogging through more and more lackluster scenes that go nowhere, waiting for that big payoff at the end. Only to reach the final sentence and shake my head in wonder and disappointment. There is absolutely no showdown. No big payoff. I'm so sad that this turned out to be such an underwhelming novel. This was supposed to be the BIG return to Osten Ard, one of the fantasy highlights of 2017. Instead, it was a work I could barely finish. True, things do pick up in the last hundred pages or so. But it's a case of too little, too late. In a recent interview, Tad Williams mentioned that he had never worked on something as intricately plotted as The Last King of Osten Ard. I wonder if that robbed The Witchwood Crown of some of the magic that permeated past Tad Williams works. Detractors have often complained that the author doesn't always seem to know where he's going with his storylines/characters, that he makes everything up as he goes along, etc. But there was a magic to that and Williams always came out on top in the end. I wonder if having so many details plotted out that far in advance has robbed Williams of the freedom that allowed him to follow his muse the way he used to do. Perhaps this is the reason why his latest novel failed to capture my imagination the way Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn or the Otherland series grabbed hold of me and never let go? One can only hope that the second volume, Empire of Grass, will be a return to form for the author. For more reviews, check out www.fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com

  21. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Where do I begin? I loved this book from start to finish. I devoured every page with the same enjoyment as the Memory, Sorrow & Thorn series. The kaleidoscopic view of the story works very well and is (in my humble opinion) executed even better than in the MST trilogy. It really makes sure you want to read more after you read a chapter. And it also leaves you just a slight bit impatient and anxious to find out more, so it's hard to put down the book. The end really had some surprises which got m Where do I begin? I loved this book from start to finish. I devoured every page with the same enjoyment as the Memory, Sorrow & Thorn series. The kaleidoscopic view of the story works very well and is (in my humble opinion) executed even better than in the MST trilogy. It really makes sure you want to read more after you read a chapter. And it also leaves you just a slight bit impatient and anxious to find out more, so it's hard to put down the book. The end really had some surprises which got me thinking 'What the fuck?' and that's what I like in books. I keep returning to the end in my mind to ponder if I should be disappointed in the character or if I've just got him wrong from the beginning. Ahh, really can't wait for the follow up. Don't be scared by the many pages, they fly by as you read and it's way less daunting than it looks!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Al

    *casually scrolling through Goodreads* *comes across The Witchwood Crown* *casually scrolling through Goodreads* *comes across The Witchwood Crown*

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ron H

    I received an Advance Reader Copy of the novel in January. The Witchwood Crown is Tad Williams' magnificent return to Osten Ard. This is a novel I've been waiting for, for 24 years. I'm happy to report that The Witchwood Crown lives up to expectations. Set 35 years after the end of To Green Angel Tower, The Witchwood Crown answers the questions avid readers have been wondering for the last two and a half decades: What happened after the end? Were Simon and Miriamele good rulers? What happened to t I received an Advance Reader Copy of the novel in January. The Witchwood Crown is Tad Williams' magnificent return to Osten Ard. This is a novel I've been waiting for, for 24 years. I'm happy to report that The Witchwood Crown lives up to expectations. Set 35 years after the end of To Green Angel Tower, The Witchwood Crown answers the questions avid readers have been wondering for the last two and a half decades: What happened after the end? Were Simon and Miriamele good rulers? What happened to the remaining characters? And what about Aditu's prophecy about Josua's twin children? Many of my questions were answered (not all, though), but even more questions were introduced. I'm now anxiously awaiting the next volume, Empire of Grass...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brian Durfee

    Amazing and enchanting and layered with mystery. The perfect re-entry into the lands of Osten Ard. We start in high fashion with a Sithi and some poisoned arrows and then it's off to the adventure from there. In a grand tour we get to meet all our hero's from Memory Sorrow and Thorn within the first hundred pages: Simon, Miri, Binibik, Isgrimnir, Eolair, Sludig, Tiamek, and so on. Older and wiser but yet the same. New characters that stand out: Morgan, Jarnulf, Qina, Snenneq, Lillia. The action Amazing and enchanting and layered with mystery. The perfect re-entry into the lands of Osten Ard. We start in high fashion with a Sithi and some poisoned arrows and then it's off to the adventure from there. In a grand tour we get to meet all our hero's from Memory Sorrow and Thorn within the first hundred pages: Simon, Miri, Binibik, Isgrimnir, Eolair, Sludig, Tiamek, and so on. Older and wiser but yet the same. New characters that stand out: Morgan, Jarnulf, Qina, Snenneq, Lillia. The action is brisk and bold and the writing, as always, lyrical and full of beauty. Tad Williams truly has a love for words that ZERO modern fantasies can match. Bravo and thank you!! Can't wait for his 2 & 3.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Magpie

    I'm not usually a person who associates books with certain songs – I don't listen to music much in general – but I must have heard “Pompeii” by Bastille around the same time I was reading the manuscript of The Witchwood Crown, and found myself back in a world and with characters I've loved for so many years, and my mind quietly started singing, But if you close your eyes Does it almost feel like nothing changed at all? And if you close your eyes Does it almost feel like you've been here before? A I'm not usually a person who associates books with certain songs – I don't listen to music much in general – but I must have heard “Pompeii” by Bastille around the same time I was reading the manuscript of The Witchwood Crown, and found myself back in a world and with characters I've loved for so many years, and my mind quietly started singing, But if you close your eyes Does it almost feel like nothing changed at all? And if you close your eyes Does it almost feel like you've been here before? And of course things have changed in the decades that have passed, in Osten Ard as well as in our world, but it's still Home, the places and the characters' voices so deeply familiar. There are new places to explore, too, corners of the world we haven't seen in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, and yet even those places feel Right to me, and as if I have known them forever. And of course there are new characters, along with our old friends from the first trilogy, but they already feel like friends, too. Looking at the lyrics now, it seems like almost every line relates to The Witchwood Crown somehow. I was left to my own devices Many days fell away with nothing to show Doesn't that describe the many years we waited for this, for the return to Osten Ard? So many years without even knowing that we would ever get to return, and feeling like no other book would ever be able to fill the hole that the end of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn had left in our lives. And the walls kept tumbling down In the city that we love Is it a spoiler to say that there are no walls tumbling down... yet? Knowing Tad, I would be surprised if there's no collapsing building at the end of the trilogy. Great clouds roll over the hills Bringing darkness from above There are certainly clouds rolling over the hills, once again... because the Norns are back as well, with magic and sinister plans. How am I gonna be an optimist about this? How am I gonna be an optimist about this? This part always reminds me of eating pizza with Tad and a group of other Scrollbearers and Smarchers, talking about how George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire was inspired by Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, and how Tad wanted to “keep the conversation going” with The Last King of Osten Ard. And more importantly, the part where he talked about his and Martin's different outlooks – how Martin is more of a pessimist, and Tad has a more optimistic view of humankind. And as in all of Tad's other books, this attitude shows in The Witchwood Crown. Like The Heart of What Was Lost, it also has Norns as point of view characters, meaning it's not divided into “good humans” and “evil Norns” as clearly as Memory, Sorrow and Thorn was, and in that, it does remind me of A Song of Ice and Fire and its many factions that are equally good and/or evil (and of course, many small similarities are still waiting for me to discover them). But where A Song of Ice and Fire feels like “everyone is awful and cruel”, The Witchwood Crown feels like... well, not quite like “everyone is good”, but like “there are good people on every side”, people who love other people and have to make difficult decisions - that faith in the fundamental goodness of humankind (or, even, Nornkind). And that, ultimately, is what draws me to Tad's books. And it's what makes me believe that his books are so important, because how can we ever hope to create a better world ourselves if we subscribe to a black-and-white view of the world or to “everyone is awful”? The one thing that I struggled with a bit was Morgan, one of the new characters. I think he has become a little more likable since the manuscript, but I still find it difficult to connect with him. It's not just that I'm older than him, while Simon and Miriamele and me were all stupid teenagers together when I read Memory, Sorrow and Thorn for the first time. I think teenage me would have found him even more difficult, since Morgan's main interests are the things that did not interest me at all as a teenager, and I think he would have felt far too much like the boys I tried to avoid for fear of bullying or worse. I'm sure there are teenagers out there who could identify with him, and who would benefit greatly from accompanying Morgan on his journey – wherever it will lead him, how long do we have to wait for the next book again? But are they the kind of teenagers who would read this kind of book? I'm afraid I can't imagine that. But fortunately, there's not just Morgan, and in addition to the many old friends I'm happy to revisit, there are many new characters I'm already falling in love with, and now that I think about them, I want to interrupt writing this just to read the entire book again, which I really do not have time for. For some reason, this book always finds me when I have so little time to read – both the manuscript and the ARC came at a time when I was quite busy at work, and now I should also be preparing for my final exam. And so I had to read, not like I wanted to, undisturbed and holed up in my home for days at a time, but in brief moments while eating or waiting for the train, or even while walking to the train. And while doing that, doing ridiculous things in public like squeeing loudly, grining widely and pressing the book against my face, tearing up and laughing so loudly that the guy sitting next to me at the train stop asked me what I was reading. While reading the manuscript, on the other hand, I was still struggling with depression and too exhausted to do much of anything, which was why I ended up not sending much feedback. But there was one thing early on in the book that bothered me enough to fight through the haze of “everything is too hard and nothing really matters”. And I can't tell you how much it means to me to see that scene changed, insignificant though it is in the story as a whole. No “apples in Maya” scene in this book, and I can remind my brain, if it starts lying to me again, and telling me that nothing I have to say is important – it is. Thank you, Tad. For this, and for this wonderful book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marian

    How can a book that's 700 pages feel so short? At the end I felt like, nooo, it can't end! We're just getting started! I really enjoyed the return to Osten Ard. I had only re-read The Dragonbone Chair before this, and I didn't feel like I was lost at any point. You could definitely read this without reading MST. But I am definitely going to finish my re-read to hold me over to the next publication date! My strongest feelings are about the characters. "I love these..." "Ugh, won't he stop whining How can a book that's 700 pages feel so short? At the end I felt like, nooo, it can't end! We're just getting started! I really enjoyed the return to Osten Ard. I had only re-read The Dragonbone Chair before this, and I didn't feel like I was lost at any point. You could definitely read this without reading MST. But I am definitely going to finish my re-read to hold me over to the next publication date! My strongest feelings are about the characters. "I love these..." "Ugh, won't he stop whining..." "Ooh, old friends!..." "I bet I know what's going on with HIM," and of course, "Wow, I did not see that coming." No spoilers. :) The world, as ever with Tad, is thoroughly immersive. I think I had a dream or two about being in the castle. Good, good stuff. Can't wait for more!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aidan

    Williams revels in returning to themes, ideas, and problems that he first explored in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, and looking for new solutions—discovering how people born under different circumstances might deal with the same conflict. Like his grandfather, Morgan will be forced to grow up, and put aside his childish naivety, which doesn’t feel all that different from Simon’s reluctant aging. “By the Ransomer’s Tree,” Simon grumbles in the privacy of this thoughts, “when did we all grow so old.” Williams revels in returning to themes, ideas, and problems that he first explored in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, and looking for new solutions—discovering how people born under different circumstances might deal with the same conflict. Like his grandfather, Morgan will be forced to grow up, and put aside his childish naivety, which doesn’t feel all that different from Simon’s reluctant aging. “By the Ransomer’s Tree,” Simon grumbles in the privacy of this thoughts, “when did we all grow so old.” Themes of growing up and growing old are woven into such an intricate tapestry, that one wonders if a return to Osten Ard is part of Williams’ own efforts to reconcile who he was when he wrote the first trilogy with who he is today. Do we really lose who we were when we were younger? Or do we simply become more…complicated? Williams’ prose, characterization, and worldbuilding are top-notch, as always, and the return to Osten Ard is so seamless, it is difficult to believe that 30 years have passed since the story began. Like Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, The Last King of Osten Ard is shaping up to be an exploration of what happens to people—on a personal, societal, and political level—in the aftermath of war. Williams’ injects The Witchwood Crown with the same aged and thoughtful writing that gave the original trilogy its trademark air of melancholy, creating a lovely sense of reverberation for those of us who’ve grown up—and grown old—in this world. Full review: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/s...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joe Crow

    Nice piece of work, this. Williams is a skilled writer, and it’s good to see him back in the world of Osten Ard. Not exactly a cheery read, but a little imminent doom is good for the soul, or something. Of course, the fact that I’ve gotta wait for goddam EVER for Empire of Grass to come out, never mind The Navigator’s Children is a bit galling. That’s what I get for reading the first book in a trilogy before the rest of the books have been written. On the other hand, I am enjoying the thought of Nice piece of work, this. Williams is a skilled writer, and it’s good to see him back in the world of Osten Ard. Not exactly a cheery read, but a little imminent doom is good for the soul, or something. Of course, the fact that I’ve gotta wait for goddam EVER for Empire of Grass to come out, never mind The Navigator’s Children is a bit galling. That’s what I get for reading the first book in a trilogy before the rest of the books have been written. On the other hand, I am enjoying the thought of reading about Unver kicking seventeen kinds of hell out everybody at the head of a horde of Thrithings-folk, because I’m pretty sure that’s what Empire’s gonna be all about. And it’d be nice if the Tinukeda’ya finally had the opportunity to tell the rest of the Sithi and the Norns what a pack of absolute bastards the entire crew of them have been, and how they deserve every second of misery their jackassery has brought upon them. Also, I’m getting the strong impression that the Norn Queen might have had a lot more to do with whatever the hell it was that happened to the Garden, back in the day, than her people are aware of. This whole “summon a doombeast out of the void to rain vengeance on my enemies” is sounding more and more like all those stories about “Nothingness” eating the Garden, yanno? Sheesh, lady, take a Xanax or something, willya?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Listen, we all knew I was going to love this book. I've only waited 25 years for it, he would have had to really screw up for me to not love it. And you may rest assured: he does not screw up. It's perfect. It's the perfect follow up to my beloved Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. (If you have not read Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, you need to go and read them immediately. Also: How are we friends?!) I'm not going to say anything about the plot. I'm not going to say anything about the characters. I'm only Listen, we all knew I was going to love this book. I've only waited 25 years for it, he would have had to really screw up for me to not love it. And you may rest assured: he does not screw up. It's perfect. It's the perfect follow up to my beloved Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. (If you have not read Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, you need to go and read them immediately. Also: How are we friends?!) I'm not going to say anything about the plot. I'm not going to say anything about the characters. I'm only going to say that I loved it. That I pre-ordered a signed copy from Barnes & Noble. That it has a beautiful, velvety dust jacket. That I took it on vacation with me and spent the two weeks of my Disney cruise reading it, and now I can say that I read this book in the US, on the Pacific ocean, in Mexico, sitting on a verandah going through the Panama Canal, in Colombia, and on a beach in Cozumel. It's been on some adventures! I took it to the ship's spa with me, and now the cover (the inner hard cover, I didn't take the dust jacket out of the house!) has a greasy spot from my chocolate peppermint scrub. I read it in the US customs line upon arrival in Texas. An orange Mickey-shaped confetti that fell into my back got into the first page, the signed page, and so I've left it there. I heart this book, and all others before it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    First I would like to state that I received this book through the Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author for giving me this opportunity and honor in being able to read this book. When I received this book I began reading it at once. I really enjoy the authors writing style, he pulls you into the book from the very beginning and you don't want to put the book down. It kept me on the edge of my seat reading from cover to cover. All the characters are First I would like to state that I received this book through the Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author for giving me this opportunity and honor in being able to read this book. When I received this book I began reading it at once. I really enjoy the authors writing style, he pulls you into the book from the very beginning and you don't want to put the book down. It kept me on the edge of my seat reading from cover to cover. All the characters are very well portrayed thought out. When you are finished you wish you weren't. This is a very impressive fantasy story. A most wonderful read and I highly recommend that anyone who enjoys a good fantasy should read this book. This is a book that I will be sure to read over and over and a must for anyone's library.

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