I’m planning on doing a chapter-by-chapter read and review of Tad William’s “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” series. No other reason other than as a way to flex my critical muscles, and it’s my favorite fantasy series, and I think I’ll have a lot to say on it.
I figure the first post would be useful to talk about myself a bit, and why I’m doing this, and why you should read it.
I’ve been reading fantasy for years now – the first “fantasy” novel I read was The Eyes of the Dragon, by Stephen King, in 1986. I found it in a used book store, and the cover really pulled me in for some reason. I was not truly old enough at the time to really grasp everything I was reading, and I was probably quite frankly a little young to be reading any King at all (though the book is one of his less graphic novels), but the story did grab me and pull me into my first real world of knights and kings, princes and princesses, and swords and sorcery. After finishing the book, I asked my brother (who was also an avid fantasy reader) what else I should read. He handed me The Hobbit, and I never looked back.
This project is very much inspired by Leigh Butler’s Wheel of Time Re-read on TOR’s web site, and as she herself says in her own introductory post, the format will be very similar, “because why mess with fabulousness?” Now, I am not Leigh Butler, and I do not write from the same point of view that she writes from (obviously), so many things about the re-read will be different.
One thing in particular that I want to focus on is the world-building aspects of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Tad Williams has crafted one of the most spectacularly realistic fantasy worlds every published, and there are so many things in almost every chapter to talk about, that this is probably what I will be focusing on the most. There are also parallels to real-world issues that I would like to discuss, and since it’s such a large part of the series, and my father is a minister, for better or for worse, religion will likely come up often.
My plan is to post about three chapters at a time, and the format will be a Chapter Summary, followed by Chapter Commentary. If certain chapters – due either to cliffhanger-ish aspects or thematic arcs – need to be presented at the same time and that messes up my “three chapter at a time” routine, then I’ll just figure something else out.
The schedule is going to have to be pretty lax at the moment. I may post three posts one week, and then go two more without posting anything (though I’ll make sure to update when that is to be the case). I have a busy life, and am not getting paid for this, so have to find a way to do it in my free time.
With all that being said, here’s a little about me.
I am a musician first-and-foremost; I write music on piano, play piano with several local jazz groups, and play a bit of drums as well. Most parts of my life (when not reading or hanging out with the wife and dogs) revolve around music in some way or another. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn has, in my opinion, an extreme lack of music in the series (though song lyrics are often written out), but I am going to find some way to talk about music during the course of this blog.
As far as being a writer (and thus, being able to do justice to the scope of the project I’m about to undertake), I am at best an amateur. I have written several short stories which have been published by a local publisher, and have been working on a “novel” (who hasn’t?) for a little while now. I try to write just a little bit every day, but since it’s not quite as important to me as music, sometimes that falls by the wayside.
I first read The Dragonbone Chair in 1990, and lucky me, it was only about two months wait for Stone of Farewell to come out. Unfortunately, I flew through the book and then had an extremely grueling three years to wait for To Green Angel Tower, and thus was introduced to my first time (of many yet to come) waiting for, and agonizing over, the release of a book. To help bide the time, I began reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and then, two months before To Green Angel Tower was released, I began the first of many Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn re-reads. I have read the series many times, and in fact, from 2001 – 2008, I do not believe I would be lying to tell you I read the series at least once a year. I hunted down the audio book by Erik Sandvold and listened to it in 2003-2004 when I was doing a lot of commuting. And yes, I have even written some Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn fanfic. All this to say that I would feel confident telling you that I know the series very well, and can speak with at least a little bit of authority on the subject.
Putting all this together, I believe I will be able to talk about various interesting subjects relating to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, and will be able to provide insightful, clever, and possibly even witty commentary on aspects of the series. However, if I cannot do that, hopefully I will at least be able to provide a new point of view from which you have likely never seen the series.
I hope I can deliver, and I hope you will follow. I plan to start “for real” on this project by the end of September, and put up the first post during that first weekend of October.
Oh, and as Binabik would likely say, “Welcome, traveler; the paths are treacherous today”
Cheers for now!