Wednesday, December 16, 2015

To Green Angel Tower Part Two Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Tad Williams
Publisher: DAW Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Book Four

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(Spoilers for the previous three books in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn are below).

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn reaches its epic conclusion as Humans, Sithi, and Trolls head back to the Hayholt for their final battle with Elias, Pryrates, and the Norns.  The larger plot lines are traditionally predictable, which is typical of good vs. evil epic fantasy, however the minute by minute events in the plot have a few twists in them which helps to keep things interesting.

A strong ending for a solid series.  Characters get what they deserve, threads are ended conclusively, and readers should be satisfied with how everything works out.

Miriamele and Simon head back to the Hayholt. Miriamele wishes to confront her father Elias one last time, while Simon hopes to find Prester John’s sword Brightnail.  Along the way, the two must face a number of dangerous adversaries, and they must honestly confront their feelings for each other.
Josua and Camaris plan to retake Nabban, while Eolair and Jiriki head to Naglimund to confront the Norns. At the Hayholt Pryrates and Elias prepare to unleash the Storm King upon the world.

What makes this series a success is the attention to detail in the worldbuilding. It’s done very intricately, and more importantly it sucks you in and makes the world feel very real. As far as trilogies in fantasy are concerned, the worldbuilding here is second only to Lord of the Rings.

While the end may be predictable, I still found myself caring about what happened to all the characters.  Miriamele and Simon work really work well together; although at times I do admit I wonder whether or not not their relationship would actually be functional? Relationship aside, this really isn’t a romance fantasy, and Williams wisely makes this more about the individuals.

Miriamele’s conflict with her father finally becomes a major issue, as does her previous relationship with Aspitis.  These two conflicts allow her to steal the spotlight in this book, and it was one of the moment to moment parts of the plot that I really appreciated.

As a fan of A Song and Ice and Fire I can’t help but comment on how much Miriamele appears to have been an influence on the creation of Arya and Sansa. She’s got Arya’s tomboyishness (and lets not forget her pseudonym Marya), and she has Sansa’s refined arrogance. Miriamele’s character is a perfect in-between of Martin’s two characters.

Simon still plays an important role, but not as important of a role as I was expecting.  Elias and Pryrates may be pawns of a larger evil, but they still draw the most antagonistic heat in this series. The biggest character disappointment has to be the Norn Queen.  She’s built up, but her plot resolution was very anti-climactic. I was expecting a lot more from the Norn Queen, especially after it was revealed that she wants to kill herself, but end the world before she does … a premise that hoped to see developed more.

This series really had a large impact on epic fantasy that came out after it.  I mentioned in a previous Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn review that George R.R. Martin claims this was the single biggest influence on his Song of Ice and Fire series. Well they may be apparent to fans who’ve read both series’, one thing that surprised me was the similarities Williams’ series had to the Wheel of Time.  I’m not just referring to the good vs. evil aspect of each series, but how both series’ have similar endings.

There may be issues with pacing, and a few blips here and there with the plot and characters, but overall this is a solid series.  It’s not one of my all time favorites, but Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn has been an enjoyable. I would highly recommend it to fans of Lord of the Rings and the more traditional good vs. evil fantasy story, or if worldbuilding means a lot to you.

Score: 8.5

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