I NEED MY MEMORY, SORROW, AND THORN!

If you are a regular reader then I'm sure you are already aware, but I'm in the middle of writing my first fantasy novel called Then a Penguin Walked In.

You weren't aware? Well, good news, you can read it while I write it, just go HERE.

Anyway, I have great love for the fantasy genre. In fact, you could say that I cut my reading teeth on fantasy. I mean, from age twelve all the way up through my early thirties, fantasy books were pretty much the only thing I read (apart from Douglas Adams, Stephen King, and the occasional Star Wars book).Yet, to be honest, I don't read much of it anymore.

But then, last summer, I began to get the kernels of an idea for Then a Penguin Walked In, and it got me all nostalgic for the books of my youth. So I've been trying, since then, to go back and read all those old books I'd read many times before. But here's the thing, I'd gotten rid of most of those books long, long ago. So it took a bit of doing, and the local library, to track some of this stuff down . . . and I've barely touched the surface.

There was one trilogy of books that I remember quite fondly: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams. Unfortunately my local library doesn't have any of the three books in the series, nor do they have it available in eBook. And so, being consistently broke, I haven't been able to re-read them. Which is a shame, really, because I do recall them being very good.

But it is not to be. Not now, anyway. So instead, I'll just write what I remember from the three books.


Back in the late 80's and early 90's, there was this great little book store in Lawrence, Kansas called The Town Crier.

Once I was old enough to drive I would often find myself browsing their fantasy shelves looking for my next book, preferably a series. It was on one of these occasions that I came across a book called The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams. This was the first book in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.

This was, of course, before the internet. I didn't subscribe to any kind of magazines that wrote about the latest and greatest in fantasy. So I could only do what most people did, and still do to this day really: Look at the cover and read the book description.

Well, the cover, though beautifully illustrated by Michael Whelan, didn't draw me in.

The book description however, caused me to take the book home (Don't worry, I paid for it).

This is what it says on Amazon . . . I can't be sure if that's what had been on the back of my book (I'd bought the paperback) because I no longer have a copy (though I may have a book club version up in the attic somewhere).

A war fueled by the dark powers of sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard--for Prester John, the High King, slayer of the dread dragon Shurakai, lies dying. And with his death, an ancient evil will at last be unleashed, as the Storm King, undead ruler of the elvishlike Sithi, seeks to regain his lost realm through a pact with one of human royal blood. Then, driven by spell-inspired jealousy and hate, prince will fight prince, while around them the very land begins to die.

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!

I remember the book opening a bit slowly. In fact, I believe I actually put it away at one point without getting past the first third of the book. I can't recall. If I did, I'm glad I decided to pick it back up again because it got really good. Really, really good.

From what I can remember of the book, you had this kid named Simon who was a scullery in the Hayholt, the castle of the great Prester John. Everyone called him Simon Mooncalf because his mind always seemed to be in the clouds. Simon is given the opportinuty to work for the castle 'wizard', Doctor Morgenes.

Doctor Morgenes, we find out, is a member of an organization of scholars called the League of the Scroll.

The Doctor is then murdered by an evil 'wizard' named Pyrates, Simon escapes from the Hayholt, and that's when it all starts blowing up.

Following The Dragonbone Chair was The Stone of Farewell and then the final book, To Green Angel Tower, which was such a massive tome that they had to split it in two when they released it in paperback.

I'll be honest here, while I've read the series at least three times, it has been over a decade or more since my last time through, so I don't recall a lot of specifics about the books.

I remember the books being rich with characters, cultures, and races. I lived in these books for a while. I fell in love with the characters and wanted to spend more time in Osten Ard.

And now, looking into it online to get some of the basics for this post, a lot of stuff is really coming back, and I desperately want to give it another read. Stupid library. Maybe I'll try inter library loan, that's never let me down.

There are audio books out there, and though that's my preferred option at this point, they are all too rich for my blood.

Following Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Williams released a four book series called Otherland, which was Science Fiction, but I feel it needs a mention as it was the first time I strayed from the fantasy world and was an absolutely amazing series. Maybe I'll talk about it at some point in the future.

Wish me luck on putting my hands on these books.

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