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The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Book 1) Paperback – March 1, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 438 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-- Williams, author of Tailchaser's Song (NAL, 1986), scores with the first book in another fantasy trilogy. Simon is an ordinary kitchen helper who is taken under the tutelage of the magician Morgenes. When King John Presbyter dies and his son Elias ascends the throne, the way opens for a long-dormant evil to enter the realm. Elias, a pawn of the black magician Pyrates, moves to eliminate his brother Josua, and the brother-against-brother, good-versus-evil clash begins. Simon is thrown in with Josua and muddles through adventure and peril, maturing into a hero by book's end. Williams weaves all of the classic ingredients of fantasy into his tale--trolls, giants, elf-like sithi, and dragons. Simon must travel from drought-stricken lands to ice-bound peaks as he follows his far-seeing dreams. The land of Osten Ard is well created, and readers quickly become immersed in the story. Unfortunately, despite the high adventure and excitement, The Dragonbone Chair leaves many loose ends, so readers, like Simon, are left waiting--for book two.
- Margaret Sloan, Willowridge High School, Sugar Land, Tex.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As war threatens to rip apart a once peaceful land, a young kitchen boy turned magician's apprentice embarks on a journey that could save his world from the dark machinations of a king gone mad. The author of Tailchaser's Song draws on many mythologies for the background of his fantasy epic, creating a solid story spiced with political intrigue and strong, appealing heroes. Highly recommended. JC
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: DAW; Reprint edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756402697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756402693
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (438 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
People who have picked up this book fall into two categories: those who gave up after 100 pages or so, saying that it was too slow and didn't hold their interest, and those who stubbornly stuck it out through the slow parts and to their delight, found themselves in the middle of one of the best epic fantasies written so far. Yes, the beginning of the series is a bit long and drawn-out, but it is really worth sticking with.
The basic plot of this book - of this entire series - is nothing new. Those who have read a lot of fantasy will find a lot of familiar elements - the standard young hero coming of age, a mysterious nonhuman race driven out of the land when men first arrived, an ageless wisewoman who seems to know everything, a king corrupted by evil, and magical artifacts of all sorts. The brilliant thing about Tad Williams is that he rises above the cliches to create a story that is more original and less predictable than it should be.
The world of Osten Ard is detailed and very real, and the characters even more so. The cast of characters is very large, yet somehow easy to keep track of (and if the reader gets confused as to who is who, there is an appendix at the end of the book listing all of the names with tips on how to pronounce them). Simon, the main protagonist, grows and changes in the time-honored fashion of kitchen-boys-turned-heroes everywhere, yet the story never feels old or cliched.
Williams is a master storyteller. I would recommend this series to any fan of epic fantasy.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of the better of those epic fantasy sagas that are out there. Strong writing, good characters and superior world-building are marred only by a lack of originality in the plot.
The story is essentially the same as in most other fantasy trilogies since Lord of the Rings. The invincible evil guy is back from the dead and out for revenge, so the lowly, unknowledgeable kid is suddenly thrust out, aided by a cadre of unlikely characters, to find some sort of talisman to stop the evil dude before he destroys the world, or at least messes it up too badly. However, this same-old story comes off very well due to the author's skill.
The world-building in this story is very good. The entire population of the world doesn't all speak the same language, or have the same religion, or get along with each other. The author doesn't use the same old mix of elves and dwarves and goblins so frequently encountered in other stories of the sort. Rather, we get new races which are essentially the same as the familiar, but with some differences.
The characters are also superb. Simon, the boy, is likable, believable, and pitiable, and his characterization is not only good, but it's consistent. The characters grow logically and believably in this story. Of course, there are some of the compulsory characters as well. There's the witch-woman who's the equivalent of Tolkien's Tom Bombadil, the mentor-figure who dies before he can reveal too much, and the travelling companion who seems to know everything.
The story proceeds logically, but at times it difficult to get through. The names of people and places are exotic and unneededly difficult to pronounce. And the story doesn't even really take off for more than 200 pages.
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Format: Hardcover
The first time I read this series (on the advice of a friend), I found it hard to get through the first half of 'The Dragonbone Chair'. At the time, the only fantasy I had read was Tolkien and a select few mixed series. I was ready to read an epic fantasy, with all the battles and magic to match. What I found Myself reading was a less-than-epic story of the mundane exploits of a kitchen-boy. Or so I thought.
After I got the "feel" for the book It really opened up. For the first time I found Myself actually caring for the characters I was reading about (something even Tolkien's Masterpiece didn't entirely do for Me). Tad Williams writes with a very personal style, actively and effortlessly making you a part of his tale, while bringing such a sense of reality to the unreal it's uncanny. Almost nothing in this series seems completely unbelieveable. From the undying Sithi, to the little folk of the 'Troll-Fells', every character in these books seem like someone you know (or wish you knew). How they act. How they think. You're in their heads for better or worse. And the reality of it is dazzling!
All My Gung-ho loyalties aside, this was an amazing series. As afore-mentioned, What really hooked Me with this series was the realism. I'm sure for some of the die-hard fantasy readers out there, this may sound like an affront on the flashy/Magic-laden fantasy that has been a staple of their literary cuisine. But with Mr. Williams in the kitchen, fantasy and reality mesh into a most enjoyable morsel that goes down easy and leaves you ravenous for more. And yes this series does contain magic. But even magic is given a realistic twist (for the most part). Usually being referred to as "the art", and being applied through the means of natural law.
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