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Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn – Sensational Series

svgApril 20, 2024Sensational Series

Welcome to Sensational Series, articles in which we explore modern series of novels. If you are interested in classic authors, why not check out our Legends of Literature articles here?

Tad Williams’ “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” series is a monumental epic fantasy saga that has captivated readers since its debut in the late 1980s. Comprised of the novels “The Dragonbone Chair,” “Stone of Farewell,” and “To Green Angel Tower,” the series spans thousands of pages and introduces readers to a richly detailed world filled with magic, intrigue, and adventure. As shown above, I think everyone will agree that the cover artwork produced by Michael Whelan is phenomenal.

At the heart of the series is the land of Osten Ard, a sprawling and intricately crafted fantasy realm that serves as the backdrop for the unfolding narrative. From the towering spires of the Hayholt, the seat of the High King, to the ancient forests of Aldheorte, Williams’ world-building is nothing short of breathtaking in its scope and detail. Through vivid descriptions and meticulous attention to cultural, historical, and geographical elements, Williams brings Osten Ard to life, immersing readers in a fully realized fantasy setting that feels both familiar and fantastical.

“He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder.”

The Dragonbone Chair, 1989

Central to the plot of “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” is the age-old conflict between good and evil, embodied in the struggle between the forces of light and darkness. At the heart of this conflict is the young protagonist, Simon Snowlock, whose journey from humble kitchen boy to reluctant hero forms the backbone of the series. As Simon becomes embroiled in the machinations of kings, sorcerers, and ancient beings, he must confront his own fears and insecurities while striving to fulfil his destiny as the saviour of Osten Ard.

A Rich Tapestry of Characters

However, what truly sets “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” apart is its cast of complex and multi-dimensional characters. From the enigmatic and morally ambiguous Sithi to the wise and ubiquitous Doctor Morgenes, Williams populates his world with a diverse array of characters who defy easy categorization. Each character is given depth and nuance, with their own motivations, flaws, and inner conflicts that drive the narrative forward. Whether it’s the tormented Prince Josua, the determined Miriamele, or the mysterious Qanuc tribesman Binabik, Williams’ characters leap off the page, leaving a lasting impression on readers long after the final page is turned.

In addition to its richly drawn characters and immersive world-building, “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” is distinguished by its epic scope and sweeping storytelling. Spanning multiple volumes and encompassing a wide range of settings, cultures, and conflicts, Williams’ saga unfolds with a sense of grandeur and scale that is truly epic in scope. From war, battles and political intrigue to ancient prophecies and mythical creatures, the series is filled with moments of high drama and emotional resonance that keep readers eagerly turning pages.


Satisfying Prose

Furthermore, Williams’ prose is elegant and evocative, with lyrical descriptions and vivid imagery that bring the world of Osten Ard to life. His narrative style is immersive and atmospheric, drawing readers into the story and holding them spellbound until the very end. Whether describing the majestic beauty of a natural landscape or the eerie desolation of the Sithi ruins, Williams’ prose is both poetic and powerful, infusing the series with a sense of wonder and awe.


Tad Williams has had an enduring influence on fantasy writing.

Standing Among Giants

“Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” is a masterful work of epic fantasy that ranks among the greatest achievements of the genre. With its immersive world-building, compelling characters, and epic storytelling, Tad Williams’ saga has earned its place alongside other fantasy classics such as “The Lord of the Rings” and “A Song of Ice and Fire.” For fans of epic fantasy, “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” is essential reading, offering a rich and rewarding journey into a world of magic, adventure, and intrigue.

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    Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn – Sensational Series