In my most recent post, I noted I would rather read the fantasy novel I finished while in Miami than write about politics. Lately, perhaps to inspire me to write the epic that has been kicking around in my head for some time now, I have been returning to fantasy fiction, even asking (in a recent post) our readers to recommend their favorite stories to me. (Please feel free to do so if you have not already.)
I find it amusing how I got around to reading the book I just finished, Stone of Farewell, the second volume of Tad Williams’ trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. I had been reading The Dragonbone Chair, the first volume in the series, just before I started law school in 1991. I found it thoroughly engaging and put it down only reluctantly. When I moved to Charlottesville, I became too busy with my studies to finish the book.
While at U-VA, I either misplaced my copy of the book or had forgotten about it. So, I never finished the book. It was not until my only story started to grow again (more than a decade later) that I recalled how much I had enjoyed Williams’ story. Last fall I bought another copy of The Dragonbone Chair and started reading it again. I was struck by how little I remembered. I mean, I did remember the basic outline about the flight of the hero, a scullion from a castle flees the realm’s capital shortly after the death of a wise and aged king. On his journey, he finds shelter at one point with the mysterious Sithi, an elf-like folk.
Once again, I read the book quickly, setting it down only reluctantly. I must not have found it as engaging as I had in the 1990s as I set it aside for nearly a year, picking it up again last month only when a friend was delayed in coming over. While I had initially regretted his delay, I then almost regretted his arrival, so engaged was I in the book.
I would finish the book only on the first day of this trip, speeding through the sequel while in Miami. It was perfect poolside (and bedtime) reading. I didn’t have to think too much as I read, but did need reach for a pencil and pad every now and again for it did help stir up some thoughts for my own tale.
I noticed something else as I read, problems which seemed endemic to much of the fantasy fiction that I have read in recent years. One difference to note at the outset. The first few chapters of The Dragonbone Chair seemed much better written that its last few pages and far better written than its sequel. (All that said, I so enjoyed Stone of Farewell, the second book, that I am eager to read the third.)