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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


**The Dragonbone Chair

by Tad Williams

Reviewed February 3, 2004.
DAW Books, New York, 1988.   783 pages.
Available on for $7.99 in paperback.

Thanks to my brother Jeff for giving us this book.

Simon has lived as a servant in the castle all his life.  Now the old king is dying.  His son appears to be dealing with dark forces and the peace of the father’s realm is falling apart.  Simon stumbles into a situation that means he must flee for his life.  Along the way, he witnesses dark events, and then joins a quest to find a talisman that may give some remaining hope to the kingdom.

You’d think that since I enjoy young adult fantasy so much, I would also love fantasy books for adults written by someone whom so many people acclaim as a master.  However, I’m afraid I really resented the length of this book.  With all the new books waiting to be read at the library, I found it irritating how this book slogged on and on and on.  It took more than 500 pages of small print to get to the point talked about on the back cover!

Simon is rather a whiney hero.  The people around him call him insulting names, he calls himself insulting names, and after awhile I was ready to join in.  He seems quite slow in the uptake.  There were many times that I could figure out what was going to happen next before he did and some background details that he had to have repeated more than once.

I think I prefer young adult fantasy because the stories are simpler and more mythic.  I’m not as interested in world-building and descriptions of cultures and languages as I am about the heart of the story and its symbolic significance.  Fantasy for adults gets more bogged down in details, and I find it harder to stay interested.

All that said, I did manage to keep reading all the long way to the finish.  Then I learned that, as the first book in a trilogy, the story isn’t even the slightest bit finished.  The characters are in danger, and I won’t find out what happens unless I find the next two books.  (Grrr!)  I think I will try to get hold of them and save them for the next time I have a six-hour train ride or something like that.  After all, it would be a shame to let all that reading I’ve already done go to waste.

Now, The Dragonbone Chair is a good book, especially if you are a fan of fantasy for adults.  I understand that my brothers liked it very much, and my 12-year-old nephew was reading it when we were in California and talking about how good it was.  I think I’m spoiled by reading so many, shorter, kids’ books and wanting to get many books read for Sonderbooks.  (Mind you, I’m not afraid of long books.  But I like them to move a little faster to help me get through them.)

I did get more involved in the story the farther it went.  I do want to find out what happens next.  Tad Williams created a complex world, with several different cultures and languages and peoples.  He established a history with alliances and wars and myths and traditions.  This book will take you into a whole different world.

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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