The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

Coming very soon is Tad Williams new Osten Ard book The Witchwood Crown, first in a new series by him titled The Last King Of Osten Ard.

Sometimes there are holes in my science fiction and fantasy reading, not having read the Dragonbone Chair is one such hole now filled. I felt that it started off really slowly, and I had trouble liking the main character Simon, surely the laziest and most inconsiderate boy in any world. Then events occurred which sent him alone out on the road, running for his life. Slowly, slowly the boy matured. At the end of the Dragonbone Chair he’s still somewhat clueless, but his survival skills have been honed thanks to companions he meets, and he has come to care very much about the fate of his world and his friends and allies. I mention his character development at some length because I have to have someone to root for and admire in a book, and it took awhile for Simon to be that person.

Luckily, he is surrounded by great companions and allies. The troll Binabik and his wolf mount/friend Qantaqa travel with Simon. From them Simon learns much about survival, loyalty and friendship. It almost seems that Binabik is the first person Simon has ever cared about besides himself. Opening that door in selfish Simon is everything, and it makes Simon befriend others and give loyalty where none existed. He comes to travel with runaways, royalty, and impossible creatures from the world’s past.

Simon is that core character who is an unwitting and reluctant hero who can help shape the fate of the world. He chooses a side in a seeming war between brothers which is the unloosening of something much darker in the lands of Osten Ard.

The story is full of battles, bravery, treachery, shining good and darkest evil. At 766 pages, it’s a wonderful tale that for that last 600 pages or so, you truly don’t want to put down. I ordered the sequels The Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower as soon as I closed the cover. I already have the Witchwood Crown On Order 🙂

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Merlyn’s “What I’m Reading”

Sometimes when you’re between books, you start a few and read them as the mood strikes. Usually, you reach a point in one or more where you have to read on to the end of the story or you won’t get any sleep. Here’s my current pile.

Jim Butcher’s Storm Front I actually started this in November and haven’t gotten far. I want to like it but I’m not sure I care for Harry Dresden, the main character. He seems a bit amoral to me, and I like a solid hero. They can be flawed, but I need to see that they are going to end up doing the right thing.

storm front cover

The Shadow Thieves Anne Ursu I bought this quite awhile ago, based on reviews, I’m sure. I’m only a few chapters in, but it has potential. I take it from the jacket Charlotte Mielswetzski, an unlikely heroine, will be rising from her friendless misery to be something special. Very lightly told. Things are about to happen. This is my easy chair/napping book so it will take awhile unless things happen quickly in the plot, then it will be done in a few hours. It is #1 in the Cronus Chronicles with a front of the book quote “What if Greek Myths were real?”

Shadow Thieves

I found a couple of lists of best, “must read” science fiction and fantasy novels, and will post those separately. I knew and loved many of the books on the lists, but there were so many I disagreed with or had, but hadn’t read yet, that I started combing my own shelves for likely titles. I pulled out a pile to read.

At the top of the list was Dan Simmon’s Hyperion, which I own but haven’t read. I started it , and it is great sf so far, but I was struck by how similar the theme and plot (at least as I’m beginning) is to James Gunn’s recent book Transcendental. Both are framed as a set of pilgrims traveling to a particular shrine/holy location and both use the format of The Canterbury Tales to introduce the pilgrims.

Hyperion

I recently watched the Syfy series The Expanse. I hated the first episode, but decided to watch another to see if I liked it. Good thing, because the second episode and all the others were great stories, fascinating characters, and feature a really well imagined time when there is a colonized Mars, Luna and an entire civilization of “belters” working the fringes of the solar system for resources.

I particularly loved all of the sequences featuring the remains of the crew of The Canterbury.
Rocinante crew

This small tight knit group just had one incredible escape after another. I initially disliked the earth-centric and Ceres Station (in The Belt) sequences, not liking the gritty, hopeless life of the residents, and the detective who was trying to figure out how a series of disasters were connected bugged me to death. I hate to say, I think it was his hairdo that just set me on edge. So silly.

Expanse Miller

After seeing all the episodes, I wanted MORE. How fortuitous that the Expanse is based on Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. I snared a copy and the book is great, and from the first sentence. So many extra details that give character and world background are in the book, that I actually found Miller to be likeable immediately. He didn’t have a creepy stalker vibe going regarding his search for missing heiress Julie Mao at all.

Leviathan Wakes

The story of the Canterbury and subsequent adventures of the tiny Rocinante crew were so satisfying. As I’m reading, I can see the faces of the tv series folks in my mind, and I can picture the ships and the grittiness of life in space.

While I wait the torturous whole year before the Expanse returns to Syfy, I can find out what happens to our merry crew and the world they inhabit in the sequels: Caliban’s War, Abbadon’s Gate, Cibola Burn, and Nemesis Games.

15 Authors Who Have Influenced Me

There’s a meme going around Facebook for you to list 10 authors who influenced you and why. This is a moldy oldie meme and I have this saved from at least a year ago on my page when the list was 15 long. I did not say anything about the why of them at the time, but I shall pencil in my thoughts.

Ray Bradbury Something Wicked This Way Comes is my ever favorite. It was written about some boys who were my age and I could identify with them in some ways. I also really loved his writing, and thought I’d like to become a writer myself. Over on DOA is an old post about the letter I wrote to him at age 13 or so. Oddly I haven’t any desire to write a novel anymore, but I do love writing on my three blogs about many things, especially other people’s writing 🙂

Harlan Ellison What an angry young man, but brilliant so I admired him for a very long time. His Dangerous Visions anthologies were just great.

Vonda N. McIntyre Dreamsnake, one of the first books by a female science fiction author I probably read. Great story.

Joe Haldeman The Forever War I read in college and it was all still a very Vietnam world. My college days changed my thinking about the world forever, and this book drove home the utter futility of war.

Robert H. Heinlein I love all of his books, especially the juveniles such as Citizen of the Galaxy and Tunnel in the Sky. I liked his philosophy of the world, his practical tough stance, his heroes off to save the world. They always did the right thing.

Isaac Asimov His Robot books are my favorites. The laws of Robotics, made to broken. The dawning humanity of the robots. The questions of what makes a creature/construct alive. Asimov also wrote many essays and had an encyclopedic knowledge of many topics. His Before the Golden Age anthology introduced me to a whole era and stable of writers such as Stanley G. Weinbaum whom I would never have known about.

Stanley G. Weinbaum I have everything I could find with this author. I can think of no one who could write about planetary exploration and incredible aliens like Weinbaum. His work is just richly imaginative. Wondrous.

Carolyn Hart I read the Death On Demand series in the late 90s just when I was beginning to read mysteries seriously. In fact, after reading Patricia Cornwell’s novels, I wanted to find more like her. Carolyn Hart is nothing like Cornwell of course, but her mystery bookshop owner recommends dozens of authors in every book and you can just sit there with pencil in hand getting ideas for new authors.

Patricia Cornwell I read the Body farm because I sometimes would pick the latest book by a popular author and try it to see what it was like so I could talk about it with customers. I found this to be just gripping. I liked Kay Scarpetta very much and her sidekick Pete Marino was sweet and crumpled all in a big bear type guy. I went back and read them all from the beginning.

Laurie King She has several series, but the one I like best is the Mary Russell mysteries. This character was a very brilliant teen in the Beekeeper’s Apprentice and an excellent match and foil for Sherlock Holmes. Reading her take on Sherlock is really what made me a Sherlock fan, and has led me to read other Sherlockian tales and be a big fan of Elementary and Sherlock on tv.

J.K. Rowling My son was 11 when we started reading the books about the boy wizard together. He grew up right along with Harry and the gang. Brilliantly plotted, drenched in decency and the power of friendship, I cannot recall anyone ever telling me after reading them that they did not love the stories.

Anne Perry Her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels are the perfect historical mysteries to me. I love the intricate details of life in Victorian times, the complex mysteries, the love and devotion of Thomas and Charlotte for each other.

Stephen King I think I was still in college when I began these or soon thereafter. I was a big fan of vampire stories at the time and Salem’s Lot was a revelation. I’ve always admired king’s capturing of the plain speech of common folk. I used to picture him sitting in bars jotting down the colorful things people said. Nobody is scarier, nobody tries harder to thrill you. He is the Master.

J.R.R. Tolkien Also in college, I fell in with the local science fiction society and began broadening my science fiction/fantasy reading. I started with the Hobbit and just loved it and all of the characters. When I began the Fellowship of the Ring, I was terribly disappointed that the same characters did not have center stage, but I was soon deeply involved by the adventures of Frodo and company. My imagination of the story was enhanced greatly by the Tolkien calendars of The Brothers Hildebrandt.