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Stone of Farewell, Tad Williams

The second in the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy. About 3/4 of the way through this volume, too much of the influence began to show. Not that such an occurrence is surprising–it’s damned difficult to write a fantasy epic without Tolkien influencing it in some way–but something pegged a memory cell, and I winced at the similarity. As I said about The Dragonbone Chair, Williams isn’t as bad as Terry Brooks. Brooks’ main character was a short halfling type; Williams’ is a young boy who is maturing quickly. Brooks’ main good wizard was a mysterious man who comes and goes; Williams kills off the good wizard halfway through the first book. The similarity that made me wince, however, was the knowledge that the main bad wizard (as opposed to the overlord baddie) was once a member of the good wizard group. Shades of Saruman, and, as Jill pointed out, Star Wars.

To break it down into these stereotyped roles is to reduce the work. Williams does a wonderful job in scene description, and his plotting ain’t too shabby. Many times I was caught in a storyline that I wanted to see resolved. These were often the times that Williams would break from that action to cover a slower scene elsewhere, in the hopes that you stay fixed to the book looking for the resolution of the first. Unfortunately, there’s more than just two of these situations going on, but something like four or five. Tolkien did the same thing, but in large chunks. (In fact, if my memory serves me, Tolkien had one group move on, and then returned to another and the time had to backtrack several months. Williams’ sections seem to match fairly consistently in shorter durations than that.)

I’m still enjoying it, though I think I might take a little breather before attacking the last, and thickest, volume.

[Finished 26 March 1994]


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