The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams

The Witchwood Crown

Tad Williams

More than thirty years have passed since the events of Tad Williams' earlier novels, and the world has reached a critical turning point once again.

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New York Times-bestselling Tad Williams’ ground-breaking epic fantasy saga of Osten Ard begins an exciting new cycle! • Volume One of The Last King of Osten Ard

The Dragonbone Chair, the first volume of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, was published in hardcover in October, 1988, launching the series that was to become one of the seminal works of modern epic fantasy. Many of today’s top-selling fantasy authors, from Patrick Rothfuss to George R. R. Martin to Christopher Paolini credit Tad with being the inspiration for their own series.

Now, twenty-four years after the conclusion of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Tad returns to his beloved universe and characters with The Witchwood Crown, the first novel in the long-awaited sequel trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard.

More than thirty years have passed since the events of the earlier novels, and the world has reached a critical turning point once again. The realm is threatened by divisive forces, even as old allies are lost, and others are lured down darker paths. Perhaps most terrifying of all, the Norns—the long-vanquished elvish foe—are stirring once again, preparing to reclaim the mortal-ruled lands that once were theirs....

Advance Galley Reviews

I'm a newcomer to Tad Williams. This started off a bit too slow for me and it took me some time to warm up to the characters, but overall a good, solid read and I will be reading more of Tad Williams.

It has been a number of years since reading Tad Williams books. When I received a copy of this to review I immediately jumped into the book. It is a nice read, but the beginning was a little dry and I had to force myself to stay connected. I understand how that needs to be done as all the characters need to be involved in the telling of a tale that has many facets to it. The enjoyment started after the first few chapters as the main characters began to be enriched by Tad's writing. The story will continue to envolve many past readers of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. I will not give away any spoilers, grab this and hold on to the story as if you were ridding on a roller coaster, it is slow at the beginning, but as you read more you're climbing into the story, and then there is the pause, followed by exhilaration. Enjoy the ride.

What a wonderful follow-up to the Memory,Sorrow, Thorn series. Fast paced and exciting. I can't wait for the next installment!

I was a newcomer to the world of Osten Ard but enjoyed this book immensely. The book is a great fantasy novel that interweaves the stories of several characters, from King/Queen to immortal warriors to household servants and beyond.

A fantastic continuation of a beloved fantasy epic. When I found out there was going to be a sequel to the first Osten Ard trilogy, which captivated me my entire young adult life, I was beyond excited. And, once again, I wasn't disappointed. Tad Williams has delivered another enthralling epic that I find myself joyfully diving into, and waiting impatiently for more.

If you've traveled in Osten Ard before you'll no doubt remember many of the characters and places we see in The Witchwood Crown. If you're new to the realm, you're in for a treat!* The writing style and pacing of this book match Williams' previous trilogy (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn); giving plenty of detail while keeping the story moving forward (and keeping the reader entertained!). It was a delight to revisit old friends and learn what they've been up to, while also experiencing a "changing of the guard" as the younger generation takes its place in Osten Ard's history. This is indeed and epic masterpiece! I look forward to the rest of this series! *I strongly recommend that anyone interested in this book read the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy first. It is by no means a requirement, but it is a great series and it gives you a much better understanding of the world and the events in this new book/series.

Like others, my copy also expired before I could finish reading. And, I also struggled to get into the story and follow all of the characters without having read the previous books. Overall, the writing was good and I'd be interested to see how it ends.

Epic does not begin to characterize the scale of this project. The writing is just beautiful. If you enjoy tales of fantasy from the days of yore, this is for you. A mix of cultures, lands and some non-human characters join to create a most fascinating read. George R. R. Martin praises Mr. Williams efforts. Reader beware, this treat is over 700 pages, so boil a whole pot of tea and stock up on munchies for the ride. My thanks to the author and the Penguin First to Read program for a complimentary copy.

Some 30 years ago, Tad Williams started his Osten Ard  series with The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and concluded it in 1993 with To Green Angel Tower. I never expected him to return to this wonderful world and characters. Now, we have a long novella The Heart of what was Lost, which picked up some threads directly after the first trilogy, and this new doorstopper of a novel. So, yes dear newcomer, you have to read all the books before this one. Those 30 years gone are also reflected in the setting - the main characters got old, mayhaps wiser. Imagine a Mooncalf Simon Snowlock established as a renown king of some 50 years old, shouting around at his drunkard grandson! The Duke of Rimmersgard, Isgrimnur, kind of old back then, is now about to die of age. After some 100 pages, the old gang has gathered: Simon, Miriamele, Binabik, Isgrimnur, Tiamak, and Eolair travel around in a state visit in their dominion, which sounds as boring as it reads. Heavily missing are the Sithi Jiriki and Aditu, but that has its reasons. On the antagonist side of the Norn, that mischievous folks are gathering their strength again. We get good insights into the culture, heroic characters, and traditions resembling a template for every roleplaying dark elf. Williams takes his good time to elaborate a tension arc, lets the book start easy, happy, nice, and only Simon's grandson Morgan seems to be a problem child with his drunkard friends - one of them old Sir Porto from the prequel novella - dangling around. But immortal Norn queen Utuk’ku has awakened and prepares for war against the mortals of the realm. She sent out elite warriors to get her the eponymous Witchwood Crown. Also, political unrest drives the southern part of the realm. Only the last third of the book takes up urgency again and develops speed. Take your time and enjoy the slow cruising before taking the roller coaster ride! Because that is, what the last 100 pages will bring you. I feared that I wouldn't be able to return to this beloved epic fantasy world, because I changed myself in the last couple of years. But Tad Williams has outdone himself to picked up the character, changed them in time without loosing the atmosphere of the first books. He transported me back again to Osten Ard without headaches. Oh joy! I recommend this to readers who need a different taste in their diet of dark, gritty, near pornish Fantasy worlds of GRRM, Lawrence, or Abercrombie, who want to go for a lighter reading without loosing complex settings, characters, and plots.

I read the first few pages, but they didn't fully get my attention, then the file froze my e-reader and by the time I got back to reading, the download had expired.

This author again did not fail to deliver. The wonderful story telling and detailed world building enthralled and enticed me as a reader. I loved revisiting beloved characters. I cannot wait to read the sequels!

Tad Williams’ writing is just as vivid and enchanting as ever. He draws you into his world, and you sink in without even a splash. The story is rich in detail and characters, and it was wonderful to see how old friends were doing, and to read about the adventures of the up and coming generation. If you’re looking for an epic to carry you away from the world for a long while, this is it. It's going to be hard to wait for the sequel.

The High King and Queen,along with the heir, their grandson,are traveling through kingdoms for a gathering of old friends from the Storm King's War, to attend the death and funeral of a dear relative. As the novel progresses, chapters are dedicated to introducing the large cast of characters, which moves the story along from one group to another and back again. The main adversary are the Norns, long lived elvish people with superior strength. Now that their queen has awoken she is preparing her people to once again reclaim all the lands.Treachery is always lurking in the background, as old religions are revived, giants and dragons are captured and witchcraft is being used as a tool for more power. As this first book comes to an end, some of the main characters are now off on quests. Some to gain help, others for informations and alliances, some for peace. But some will be impossible to accomplish. Even though this book was 700 + pages, once most everyone was settled in my mind, it then moved forward at a good pace with revelations and surprises and I look forward to reading the next phase of this epic journey. Thank you First-To-Read for this free e-copy of The Witchwood Crown.

I was super excited to read this, as I have been meaning to read Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn for a while now, and this sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the book before the galley expired, and there was some content at the beginning that dampened my enthusiasm: Sexual harassment, that resulted in the woman's breasts being exposed- which the narrative made out to be a comical occurrence. And while this probably won't bother most people, it really made me question whether I should continue or not. Besides that, while it is possible to understand the story without reading Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn first, it would definitely help, as I was having trouble following the characters and world, at the beginning, especially. Despite this, I might have been able to like it, but I didn't get far enough for the story to grab my interest. As I was given the opportunity to read this for free, and was only asked for a review in exchange, I tried to finish, but was unable to, and I regret not being able to give a full review.

In the past month, I have read all of Tad Williams Osten Ard books, and this one is by far my favourite. It tells the story of Osten Ard 30 years after the end of the original trilogy, delving into the intricacies and realities of living your happy ever after. What I loved here, was the nuances that weren't present in the previous trilogy. Williams has ensured that all of the characters presented have definite shades to their personality. Some of our old friends display moments of cowardice or anger that are refreshing and the new cast of characters are incredibly skillfully drawn. We again follow some of the happenings among the Norns, which would have been unthinkable in the original trilogy. Here, we are given examples of their bravery and the internal politics that plague all societies. This is a truly wonderful book which has demonstrated the quality of Williams' writing and for me, cemented his place as one of the best epic fantasy writers we have around. I would recommend that anyone who wants to read this new instalment should go back and re-familiarise themselves with the previous books so that they can keep up with all of the small mentions and hints dropped throughout. I really enjoyed this and will now wait (very impatiently) for the next book in the series, since there are some thrilling plot points introduced here that will keep us guessing for a while.

Tad Williams "The Witchwood Crown" is a long but very enjoyable read. I have not read the 'Memory, Sorrow and Thorn' series so I was a bit lost for quite a while. I pushed through my confusion and eventually it all started to come together for me. I definitely will go back and read the original series now to better prepare for the rest of The Last King of Osten Ard cycle. Williams writes with beautiful detail and such creativity. It is very easy to get swept up and lost in his world and characters, assuming you have prior knowledge of them. I recommend this to any fans of fantasy but I advise you to do your homework that I didn't and start at the beginning.

I have not read any books by Tad William and thought it would be great book to start with, but unfortunately you do need to read the other books before this one- even after reading the primer intro to bring first time readers up to date. I got bogged down and couldn't get far into the first chapter. I think he writes very descriptively and has created a world that is 'real' to the reader, and it reads like an epic book like Tolkien, but I couldn't get far into that series either. A very 'heavy' read, not an overnight book, and you need to read the first series before this one to understand the background, the politics, and the characters. I am sure that if you loved his first series you would love this one too.

In short, this book is long -- long on fairies, trolls, kings, queens, knights, giants, dragons, runes, magical tokens, and all the best ingredients for epic fantasy. And there are even a couple kick-ass female leads. I have not read any of Tad Williams's previous books, and found *The Witchwood Crown* appealling as a stand-alone -- at least in terms of the books that preceded it. As other reviewers have noted, this 700+ pager is a slow-starter, building carefully and meticulously the epic narrative. It's worth it to note that Game of Thrones's George R.R. Martin and Name of the Wind's Patrick Rothfuss list Tad Williams as an influence. There are definite similarities. But as Martin's chapters tend to focus on one character's progress in the narrative and then leave us hanging about the outcome of that character's consequences for a hundred pages, Williams's narrative progression is tighter and less frustrating. Based on names, linguistic patterns, and cultural habits (which seem to be supported in the 25-page appendix), Williams seems to have given the various races and cultures inspirations from feudal Japanese, Scottish clans, English lords, Mongolian raiders, etc. Williams remarkably is able to successfully juggle myriad POVs, tones, and voices for each of his primary characters, and he does a fair job of filling out secondary characters, as well. As long as it is, this book is merely the call to action for this generation of characters. The narrative -- and promise of mounting stakes and pulse-blasting action -- continues its arc over the horizon in the volumes that follow.

I haven't read any Tad Williams before, but I enjoy a good fantasy series, so I was excited to read The Witchwood Crown. I admit it took me a while to get into the book because I was new to the land, the people, the mythology, etc. I probably should have checked out the "primer" for the first trilogy to get a bit of grounding. However, after a few hundred or so pages, I started to figure out who was who and how they were all interrelated. The author takes it slowly at first, so you have to commit to the story and trust that things will eventually start coming together. By the end of the book, I was getting a bit excited and was somewhat disappointed when it ended. I guess now I have to read the second book...after reading the original trilogy and getting caught up. I'm a little hooked by the plot and want to see where all the plotting and build-up will lead. I'm guessing there will be some serious action in the next books. The author writes well, the characters are well-developed and interesting, and this looks like a great series for a rainy winter weekend when I can devote more time to it. It was harder to make the time this time of year since this book definitely isn't a "beach read". So, I would recommend this book for those who like their fantasy on the epic scale and who would like to immerse themselves in another realm for a long stay - winter reading, a long plane ride, etc. I will definitely look at his other books.

This first installment in what I assume to be a new trilogy by Tad Williams is mostly concerned with character introductions and laying the groundwork for future books. For those who have read The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, this book reunites readers with Simon and Miri, as well as a host of other hold-over characters. However, as this new story unfolds years after the conclusion of The Green Angel Tower, there are also a host of new characters spread across Osten Ard that are interwoven into the story. The cast, as one might imagine, is quite expansive but not difficult to track. The pacing in this book often frustrated me because of the slow build. As I said, the groundwork is carefully laid in this book, which means some of the developments known to the reader are unknown to the characters that most need to know. The promise of pulse-racing tension is there, it's just not realized in this book. However, by the end of its 700+ pages, I feel confident there will be a payoff for my patience in the pacing of the next two books. Not only do I expect the plot to explode into titillating action, I expect to see some major character growth for the younger and more inexperienced individuals that are playing key roles in this new battle for humanity. I will definitely look for the next book in this trilogy.

The Witchwood Crown continues Tad Williams’ seminal fantasy trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn while equally standing tall on its own in a more crowded book market as the start of a new trilogy called The Last King of Osten Ard. 1988 was a different time for those massive tomes, and this first book knows that. Instead of blindly repeating the threat of the original trilogy or copy-pasting in a new one, The Witchwood Crown takes the much more interesting route of being a sequel about how history can repeat if we aren’t careful to learn from our past. Think World War I only leading to World War II. The original trilogy dealt with the elf-like Norns and their Big Bad type Storm King, victims in the past of genocide at the hands of human invaders, threatening to do the same by exterminating the human race. The new trilogy manages to reintroduce the Norns as antagonists with a well-developed characterization and society of their own while upping the scale of the threat considerably. No spoilers on that front here, but readers of the original trilogy may have a good idea of what that threat could be. Instead of shoving the old characters out of the limelight to hand over the reigns to a young and sexy cast (like so many TV and film reboots), or shock killing them off early on to score some Game of Thrones imitator gravitas, The Witchwood Crown makes them central players alongside a new cast. The book itself is a blending of the old and new styles of popular fantasy: there are adventures in astonishingly described locales, comedy that had me chuckling, and youthful innocence; there is also a harder tone to the violence, there are backstabbing political machinations, and scenes of melancholy. There are about sixteen point of views throughout the book located in a handful of diverse locations across the land of Osten Ard, so Williams can switch effortlessly between story types, tones, and styles. More importantly, this new book not only manages to carry on the tradition of older fantasy while blending it with the new, it manages to have something human to say. A grand emotion or a theme. Most of Williams’ work does. That might not seem like much, but when too many writers are intent on throwing out RPG spreadsheets or, on the other hand, grimdark violence, it’s rare to read something with big ideas to match its big locations and creatures that can still be entertaining. Just because a bunch of armies came together and fought a big battle together doesn’t mean the animosity between the factions vanishes for good. Just because one battle ends and peace is declared doesn’t mean that peace is forever. Again: think World War I to World War II. And just as in that real world history, by the end of The Witchwood Crown the entire land of Osten Ard seems primed to explode at each other based on fear, lies, and greed rooted in past hurts. At the opening of the first part (a nice touch—each of the three sections of the book is named after the debris of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn’s war: Widows, Orphans, and Exiles), the backbone of the book (and presumably the trilogy) is summed up with a poem by Hsu Chao: "Locusts laid their eggs in the corpse Of a soldier. When the worms were Mature, they took wing. Their drone Was ominous, their shells hard. Anyone could tell they had hatched From an unsatisfied anger." With all of this to praise, The Witchwood Crown is an easy recommend to both new readers and fans of Williams: a great start to what could be a new classic trilogy. This review is made possible via digital ARC provided by Penguin’s First to Read program.

This was (as always) a well written addition to the series. I can't wait to find out what comes next! I've read the first 3 books multiple times and I think this will be another I keep for rereads! I received the advanced copy from first to read for a review.

I started reading this novel thinking that this would be a great introduction for me in the writing of Tad Williams. I found his writing to be very descriptive and he did a great job in describing the characters, their trials and problems very well. Unfortunately for me I had not read the previous trilogy in which most of these characters were first introduced to the reader, and so as I started reading the book I was lost when their past relationships were talked about. I made it a little over 200 pages into the novel before I finally had to give up. I found that past events were brought up often, and as a new reader it was hard to make sense of some things. I may go back and read the first set of books so that I understand a lot of the things happening in this world and then look to read this novel once it comes out for sale. I received an advance reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review via First To Read.


More to Explore

  • The Dragonbone Chair
  • The Stone of Farewell
  • To Green Angel Tower: Part I
  • Otherland: City of Golden Shadow

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