The Dragonbone Chair (Anglais) Broché – 1 janvier 1997
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"A grand fantasy on a scale approaching Tolkien's Lord of the Rings."—Cincinnati Post
"Sprawling, spellbinding...weaves together a multitude of intricate strands, building to a suitably apocalyptic confrontation between good and evil."—Publishers Weekly
"An epic tale of the struggle of good against evil."—San Francisco Chronicle
"The fantasy equivalent of War and Peace."—Locus
"Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is one of the great fantasy epics of all time. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve read it. It kept me so enthralled, I plowed through the last book in just one sitting! Here be magic, dragons, sprawling battles, thrilling feats of derring-do, ancient mysteries, hidden secrets—all the things a good story needs." —Christopher Paolini, bestselling author of Eragon
From the Trade Paperback edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Poche .
Présentation de l'éditeur
Only a small scattered group, the League of the Scroll, recognizes the true danger awaiting Osten Ard. And to Simon--a castle scullion unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League--will go the task of spearheading the quest for the solution to a riddle of long-lost swords of power...and a quest that will see him fleeing and facing enemies straight out of a legend-maker's worst nighmares!--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Poche .
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The basic plot of this book - of this entire series - is nothing new. Those who have read a lot of fantasy will find a lot of familiar elements - the standard young hero coming of age, a mysterious nonhuman race driven out of the land when men first arrived, an ageless wisewoman who seems to know everything, a king corrupted by evil, and magical artifacts of all sorts. The brilliant thing about Tad Williams is that he rises above the cliches to create a story that is more original and less predictable than it should be.
The world of Osten Ard is detailed and very real, and the characters even more so. The cast of characters is very large, yet somehow easy to keep track of (and if the reader gets confused as to who is who, there is an appendix at the end of the book listing all of the names with tips on how to pronounce them). Simon, the main protagonist, grows and changes in the time-honored fashion of kitchen-boys-turned-heroes everywhere, yet the story never feels old or cliched.
Williams is a master storyteller. I would recommend this series to any fan of epic fantasy.
The story is essentially the same as in most other fantasy trilogies since Lord of the Rings. The invincible evil guy is back from the dead and out for revenge, so the lowly, unknowledgeable kid is suddenly thrust out, aided by a cadre of unlikely characters, to find some sort of talisman to stop the evil dude before he destroys the world, or at least messes it up too badly. However, this same-old story comes off very well due to the author's skill.
The world-building in this story is very good. The entire population of the world doesn't all speak the same language, or have the same religion, or get along with each other. The author doesn't use the same old mix of elves and dwarves and goblins so frequently encountered in other stories of the sort. Rather, we get new races which are essentially the same as the familiar, but with some differences.
The characters are also superb. Simon, the boy, is likable, believable, and pitiable, and his characterization is not only good, but it's consistent. The characters grow logically and believably in this story. Of course, there are some of the compulsory characters as well. There's the witch-woman who's the equivalent of Tolkien's Tom Bombadil, the mentor-figure who dies before he can reveal too much, and the travelling companion who seems to know everything.
The story proceeds logically, but at times it difficult to get through. The names of people and places are exotic and unneededly difficult to pronounce. And the story doesn't even really take off for more than 200 pages. But that was okay, because in that time we got familiar with the land, the politics, Simon, the religion, and it didn't get boring at all. The religion is also familiar. It's called Aedonism (presumably lifted from EDEN), and is essentially the same as christianity, except the martyr-figure was hung upside-down as well as crucified. Also, there are pagans who practice Udunism, which is the same, of course, as real-world Odinism.
The biggest problem in this book was really the editing. Often the character Josua's name was misspelled Joshua, and there were frequent other misspelling and grammatical mistakes. Another slight problem is that the problems were to obvious. "John went to face the dragon carrying only a spear and a shield...and came out, dragon claw slung over his shoulder, holding the sword Bright-Nail ahead of him." For some reason the characters don't see the problem immediately.
Still, this was an extremely enjoyable, remarkable, real, vivid, and strong fantasy world, and I am absolutely looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Though the book deserves five stars, I give it four for lack of originality.
After I got the "feel" for the book It really opened up. For the first time I found Myself actually caring for the characters I was reading about (something even Tolkien's Masterpiece didn't entirely do for Me). Tad Williams writes with a very personal style, actively and effortlessly making you a part of his tale, while bringing such a sense of reality to the unreal it's uncanny. Almost nothing in this series seems completely unbelieveable. From the undying Sithi, to the little folk of the 'Troll-Fells', every character in these books seem like someone you know (or wish you knew). How they act. How they think. You're in their heads for better or worse. And the reality of it is dazzling!
All My Gung-ho loyalties aside, this was an amazing series. As afore-mentioned, What really hooked Me with this series was the realism. I'm sure for some of the die-hard fantasy readers out there, this may sound like an affront on the flashy/Magic-laden fantasy that has been a staple of their literary cuisine. But with Mr. Williams in the kitchen, fantasy and reality mesh into a most enjoyable morsel that goes down easy and leaves you ravenous for more. And yes this series does contain magic. But even magic is given a realistic twist (for the most part). Usually being referred to as "the art", and being applied through the means of natural law. Nothing terribly new, but executed with beautiful precision.
In all, this is the best Fantasy series I have read to date. But, I must urge anyone who picks this series up to fight through the first half of "DBC". It is slow, yet at the same time very rich. This is where you meet the players that will entertain you for the duration of your stay in 'Osten Ard'. Get to know them. Don't blow through looking for 'the good parts'. It is all 'the good parts'. You just won't realize it until it's over.
So before I really get carried away...just try it!
What have you got to lose?
The first book starts achingly slow, and it stays that way pretty much through all 3000 some pages. That said, the story of the boy-who-becomes-a-man never pays out. I kept reading and waiting for Simon to transform from the goofy star-eyed boy into a man with a little bit of guts. Instead he remains indecisive and over emotional throughout, with no real growth, and constantly acting on impulse. Williams then tacks on the happy ending when all is said and done, and poof suddenly Simon is a man, despite having never done anything even remotely adult-like, let alone king-like.
Which brings me to another point. Williams fooled me at the beginning of the book with his warning for the reader not to assume he knows the ending. So I kept reading thinking he was going to surprise me with some crazy twists and turns, but the story remains linear throughout. I never once said 'Wow, didn't see THAT coming.'
And let's talk about over-use of devices. He constantly uses dream sequences to foreshadow and lend a sense of evil foreboding, but it gets old quick, and Simon, who is afflicted with the most dreams, never even learns how to use them effectively. Williams just keeps on throwing in dreams again and again as if to say BEWAAAARE, but there are only so many times you can listen to someone whispering WOOOOOOH in a scary voice before you get annoyed. Not to mention all the tiring scenes underground beneath the castle, lost in the dark, oh I'm going to die, I can't remember my name, are those ghosts over there or have I gone mad. God just hurry up and tell me something that moves the story just one little foot forward. A famous writer once said that every word should count. This is definitely not true here. Fans of this series will say that every scene is necessary to progress the characters, but as I hinted before, none of the characters undergo any significant change, especially not the main character. They're all static for thousands of pages.
And of course there is the great amorphous evil that never does ANYTHING.
This story could have been told in 1000 pages. Save your time. There are plenty of gripping and well told fantasy stories out there, like Stephen King's Gunslinger series, George Martin's Ice and Fire series, etc. Williams' series is like wading through smelly mud, which only makes the ending worse because you put so much time into a tired story that the climax would have to be the best climax in recorded history to make it worthwhile, which it's certainly not.