by Tad Williams ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2017
Not just utterly readable—an instant fantasy classic.
Almost three decades after the release of the first volume of Williams’ epic fantasy series, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, he returns to the iconic realm of Osten Ard with the stunning first installment of a new sequel trilogy.
Set approximately 30 years after the conclusion of To Green Angel Tower (1993), the story begins with the once relatively peaceful realm being destabilized by fear, greed, and ignorance. A Sitha envoy en route to King Simon and Queen Miriamele, rulers of Osten Ard, is attacked on her way to the seat of the High Throne and left for dead. But the near-dead fairy—and her unrelayed message—is the least of the rulers’ worries. There are disturbing rumors surrounding an old ally, King Hugh of Hernystir, whose soon-to-be wife is said to be reviving the dark rituals of an ancient goddess of death. The immortal Norn queen Utuk’ku has awakened from her decadeslong sleep and is preparing for war against the mortals of the realm. There is a growing political unrest in the southern realms. And to make matters worse, Simon and Miriamele’s 17-year-old grandson, Morgan, heir to the throne, is a self-centered drunkard. With his kingdom falling into chaos, Simon is forced to ask himself: “They have left us a world, but have they left us enough wisdom to protect it?” A richly described, meticulously plotted, and multilayered narrative tapestry featuring a diversity of adeptly developed characters and multiple storylines, this is flawless epic fantasy. Building upon the revered history of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Williams has outdone himself by penning a 700-plus page novel that is virtually un-put-down-able. Powered by the dichotomy between breathtaking narrative scope and the emotional intensity and intimacy of individual storylines, Williams’ grand-scale storytelling mastery is on full display here.Not just utterly readable—an instant fantasy classic.
Pub Date: June 27, 2017
Page Count: 736
Review Posted Online: April 3, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017
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by Samantha Shannon ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 26, 2019
A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.
No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.
Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019
Page Count: 848
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019
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by Erin Morgenstern ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 13, 2011
Self-assured, entertaining debut novel that blends genres and crosses continents in quest of magic.
The world’s not big enough for two wizards, as Tolkien taught us—even if that world is the shiny, modern one of the late 19th century, with its streetcars and electric lights and newfangled horseless carriages. Yet, as first-time novelist Morgenstern imagines it, two wizards there are, if likely possessed of more legerdemain than true conjuring powers, and these two are jealous of their turf. It stands to reason, the laws of the universe working thus, that their children would meet and, rather than continue the feud into a new generation, would instead fall in love. Call it Romeo and Juliet for the Gilded Age, save that Morgenstern has her eye on a different Shakespearean text, The Tempest; says a fellow called Prospero to young magician Celia of the name her mother gave her, “She should have named you Miranda...I suppose she was not clever enough to think of it.” Celia is clever, however, a born magician, and eventually a big hit at the Circus of Dreams, which operates, naturally, only at night and has a slightly sinister air about it. But what would you expect of a yarn one of whose chief setting-things-into-action characters is known as “the man in the grey suit”? Morgenstern treads into Harry Potter territory, but though the chief audience for both Rowling and this tale will probably comprise of teenage girls, there are only superficial genre similarities. True, Celia’s magical powers grow, and the ordinary presto-change-o stuff gains potency—and, happily, surrealistic value. Finally, though, all the magic has deadly consequence, and it is then that the tale begins to take on the contours of a dark thriller, all told in a confident voice that is often quite poetic, as when the man in the grey suit tells us, “There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.” Generous in its vision and fun to read. Likely to be a big book—and, soon, a big movie, with all the franchise trimmings.
Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011
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