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.