Stone of Farewell (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #2)

Stone of Farewell (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #2)Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second volume Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy appears at first to be an event-laden set up piece for the grand finale series, however Stone of Farewell turned out into something more in-depth especially when it comes to characters.  From various locations around Osten Ard, characters that have survived the events of The Dragonbone Chair start heading to the legendary Stone of Farewell, a temporary sanctuary for those fighting against the tide of evil brought by the Storm King.  While others continue their noble, and sometimes misguided, personal quests.

From the north, Simon’s journey begins with saving the lives of his friends from a death sentence then heads to the southern border of the Old Forest only to be separated from his friends.  In the west, Prince Josua leads a ragtag band of survivors in the Old Forest first in a battle of survival then into a quest that leads them to the vast plans in the east of the country to the Stone.  Miriamele learns her quest to bring Nabban to her uncle’s side a failure before her arrival then finds herself being secretly traded from one political player to another while Duke Isgrimnur’s search for the wayward Princess gets sidetracked to find small Wrannaman along with a legendary figure.  And in occupied Hernystir, Maegwin leds her exiled country in the depths of the mountains and finds a lost city.

From the first page the action is always moving forward unlike the beginning of The Dragonbone Chair.  Simon’s sojourn with the exiled Sithi is a interesting and very necessary change of pace in the later half of the book as the reader continues to learn that things aren’t necessary as they seem.  While the vast majority of the book is a great read, there are parts that are somewhat of a drag and questionable.  Both Miriamele and Maegwin seem to be well-written one page then clichéd the next, its very maddening as a reader.  Another is the fact that the majority of Josua’s journey to the Stone comes from Deornoth’s point-of-view, while Deornoth is a great character it questionable that a major player like Josua seems sidelined by the writer.

Stone of Farewell is a wonderful middle volume of a trilogy that is not only an adventure in itself, but builds up the story for the finale.  If you’ve read The Dragonbone Chair and are thinking about if you really want to continue with the series, I recommend you read the first 100 pages because you won’t want to put it down.

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Star Trek Log One

Star Trek: Log One (Star Trek: Log, #1)Star Trek: Log One by Alan Dean Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Star Trek: Log One by Alan Dean Foster features three short stories adapted from “the best episodes” Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS).  The three episodes are in order “Beyond the Farthest Star”, “Yesteryear”, and “One of Our Planets is Missing” which correspond with the first three episodes of TAS which makes one think they just adapted all the stories of TAS into books to make money, but that is another discussion all together.  The three stories are loosing connected as Foster presents them as a sequence of events transcribed from the Captain Logs of James T. Kirk, even though they are connected I feel its best to give a brief review of each story.

“Beyond the Farthest Star”- The longest story of the trio, it is also the slowest to develop.  The Enterprise gets caught in the pull of an uncharted black hole and barely are able to get into orbit when they encounter an dead alien vessel that has been in orbit for 3 million years.  Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty decide to explore the vessel and realize that it had been taken over by a malevolent energy being that transports over to the Enterprise when the four return then takes over the ship.  The standard crew versus creature-taken-over the ship trope then follows.  (2.5/5 stars)

“Yesteryear”- Whether all of TAS is considered canon or not, it seems this episode is considered canon.  The Enterprise returns to the Time Planet and the Guardian of Forever with several historians.  Kirk and Spock accompany one of the historians through the Guardian, but when they return no one recognizes Spock especially the Andorian first officer and Kirk’s apparent best friend.  After examining the evidence it is deduced that Spock used the Guardian to return to Vulcan when he was seven and saved his younger self, posing as his cousin Selek.  A fair amount of the episode takes place on Vulcan following Spock and his younger self, giving insight into Spock’s childhood along with Vulcan culture and philosophy.  This story is worth the buying the book alone. (5/5 stars)

“One of Our Planets is Missing”- Standard Enterprise encountering large space creature trope.  Well-written, but heavy handed with Vulcan telepathy as a deus-ex-machina.  (3/5 stars).

While the quality of the stories range from meh to great and some typos that should have been corrected during editing are present, Star Trek: Log One shows the continuing adventures of the original U.S.S. Enterprise and it’s crew.  If you’re new or long-time fan of the original televisions show I would recommend getting your hands on this book, especially for the story “Yesteryear”.

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The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #1)

The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #1)The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The first book of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy on the surface looks like a cliché, however Williams puts his own original spins on those standard elements that in The Dragonbone Chair the reader is confronted with a fantasy that is familiar yet very different.  The main character is the young Simon, a scullion orphaned from birth, who becomes the assistant to the castle’s doctor as old heroic King John’s long life is coming to an end and his son, Elias, succeeds him.  Then as larger events that Simon only takes note of start effecting his life in the castle, he finds an open door in the floor.  From that moment Simon’s takes him from the ancient castle of his birth to the reaches of the known world, not that he really wants to and doesn’t prevent him from complaining.

Williams’ story further populated by other intriguing characters, both friends and foes of Simon.  The troll Binabik who becomes Simon’s travelling companion thanks to a secret message from Simon’s mentor, Miriamele the only daughter of the corrupted new king who runs away under disguise only to join Simon, and Prince Josua who must confront and fight his older brother King Elias are but a few of the individuals that Williams makes the reader want to learn more about in future books.  But Williams’ unique take on the “standard” elf was a pleasant surprise for those accustomed to the Tolkien version.

Coming to my first Tad Williams book, I had read and told various things to expect about his writing.  The most frequent was that he started slow and frankly this is correct, though once the action really kicks into gear all the events previously thought as tedious at the start to be seen by a different light.  Though overall not perfect, the storytelling is engaging and the worldbuilding top notch.

After finishing The Dragonbone Chair I am fully committed to seeing how story will play out over the next two (three if you have the Mass Market Paperback) books.  Yes, the book does start slow but as I said above once the action starts everything read about before will take on a different light as you along with Simon traverse Osten Ard.

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The Price of War (Long Price #3-4)

The Price of WarThe Price of War by Daniel Abraham
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This second omnibus collection of Daniel Abraham’s The Long Price Quarter, The Price of War, is a page turner from beginning to end in a complete contrast to the first omnibus that was characterized by being a slow burner.  Otah and Maati again dominate the two novels that tell the two sides of a devastating war and its long disastrous consequences in which both men take different paths to solve, in both novels previous secondary characters return as well as new tell about how high the price of war is.

An Autumn War: Otah governs over the city of Machi continuing is nontraditional life with only one wife and one heir, in addition to hosting not one but two poets, one of which his friend Maati.  Even as Otah thinks and plans about a possible problem with the neighboring power, Galt, he doesn’t know that events are in motion to end the Khaiem as he knows it.  Balasar Gice, the greatest general in Galt, has spent is life wanting to end the threat the andat present not only to his country but the world.  After retrieving information from the lifeless dessert that the Old Empire became thanks to the powers of the andat, Gice plans to forever end the threat that the poets and andat pose to the world.  These good men face off and the foundations of two great empires are shaken to their core.

The Price of Spring: A Third Empire as arisen after the Galtic War with Otah at its head looking to his old foes to save not only his people but theirs as well, but his former friend the poet Maati looks save his people by returning the andat to the world to heal the wounds he blames the Emperor for creating and neglecting with his scheme.  These two old men must navigate an uncertain future through women like that of Eiah Machi, who’s  loyalty is divided between her father and Uncle Maati, and Vanjit, a survivor of the sacking of Udun.  The fate of the world, let alone the Khaiem and Galt, is in the balance as two men realize the price their previous decisions have cost.

I am going to be honest, if there are any flaws in either of these two novels I didn’t notice them.  From the beginning I was gripped by the tale Abraham continued from Shadow and Betrayal.  If you are a fan of fantasy, you must read The Long Price Quartet and I recommend you read this book.

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