Memory, Sorrow & Thorn Book 2
He was not great; he was, in fact, very small. At the same moment, though, he was important, just as any point of light in a dark sky might be the star that led a mariner to safety, or the star watched by a lonely child during a sleepless night.
So what’s the book about?
Over the once so beautiful land of Osten Ard lies darkly looming the shadow of the undead Elven Prince Ineluki, who as Storm King wants to renew the rule of the Elves in Osten Ard and, to avenge old wrongs, exterminate humanity. His ally is the Norn Queen Utuk’ku, who hides her millennia behind a silver mask. On the High Eyrie, once the centre of a thriving empire, Ineluki’s creatures rule: the sinister High King Elias and his sinister advisor, the scarlet priest Pryrates. Through dastardly murder and open warfare, they have taken control of most of the land, aided by Ineluki’s warriors, the pale Norns, and a cruel winter that has displaced all other seasons; Ineluki’s sorcery has brought it on. Nevertheless, resistance is still stirring in Osten Ard. Prince Josua, the younger brother of the High King, has survived the destruction of his fortress Naglimund and has gathered a band of faithful around him. Among his helpers is Simon, a young man of mysterious origin.
These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
- The story offers quite a bit of complexity because it is told in several storylines. Of course, the open ends of the first part are taken up, but new strands are always added or old ones split up. This creates an enormous complexity. Since the focus in the first volume was strongly on Simon, this volume focuses on many characters, which makes the book even more exciting. We experience the story of Miriamele, which is extremely exciting. However, the most exciting part was definitely the story about Josua, because here you get many insights into other cultures. The complexity is further increased by the fact that secondary characters play a decisive role, such as Rachel from Hayholt or the hunter Ingen Jegger.
- Hernystir, Sithi, Rimmersgard, Erkynland, Qanuc – each people described by the author is so individual, so true to life with his or her culture and way of life, that, as with the first volume, you can’t put the book down. One notices that this immense world is now slowly being built up and that one no longer only dwells on the Hayholt. The many people and places already give us an inkling that the world will become even more complex and that not only the Hayholt is affected by evil. The different people are so well represented that it seems like a real world. Each one has a completely different culture, which is so interesting to read that I would like to have a separate book about each culture. In addition, the Sithi in particular were able to inspire me, although I am normally against Elvish creatures, the Sithi are somehow so admirable and their city is simply a dream come true of a fantasy world.
- Thus, the characters develop in an incredibly differentiated and vivid way. Williams combines the drama of the times, the dangers of the situations and the feelings of the main characters so insanely well that it tears your heart apart when you have to stop reading and put the book aside. At first, I thought I would just want to read about Simon as he is such an endearing character, but after just one chapter of another main character, you quickly realise that each of these characters has been written with so much love that you form a strong bond with each one. I can definitely say that Simon, Miriamele, Deornoth and Isgrimnur, as well as Binabik are some of my absolute favourite characters – all in one book! Friendship, courage, fear and love – no other fantasy author has managed to portray feelings so intensely and clearly.
- Battles and pain, atrocities and cruel fates define this book. Unlike the previous volume, this does not seem like a wonderful story through a time long past, but one sees more and more, as towards the end of the first volume, that evil reigns here. It no longer seems to be so flowery and that young Simon is on an adventure, but it becomes more political and also more brutal – so this is no longer an enchanting story, but at times also something that instils fear. Moreover, not only are there old villains like Pryrates in this book, but there are many more scary people who sometimes don’t seem so evil at first. This also makes you realise how corrupt this world is, because even the peoples who are supposed to be allies are not willing to stand up to each other.
I was sceptical about the second volume at first, because it’s not just Simon who has the focus here, but many different characters, and I have to admit that I’m one of the few readers who loves stories written from only one perspective, because I feel more connected to the character. Nevertheless, I have to say that Tad Williams manages to make me feel so strongly drawn to each character that there is definitely no minus point here for following multiple stories. In addition, the fact that we finally learn more about Osten Ard makes the book an even better read than the first volume. Everything that the first volume already did perfectly, this volume manages to do even better. I had so much fun reading that I read such a thick tome so quickly.
So what are my final thoughts about it?
If the first book didn’t quite convince you, the second volume definitely will. I enjoyed immersing myself in Simon’s world again and experiencing exciting adventures together with him and not only Simon’s exciting adventures, but those of many other characters. Tad Williams writes such detailed, that literally brings the world to life in this book. His world is real and close to reality, inhabited by ordinary people who can doubt, fail and die. Thus, the book is much closer to the reader and one feels invited to join this world. An enrichment of experiences and a broadening of horizons, in addition to being incredibly captivating and exciting. I think you can already tell that this series is one of my favourites, if not my favourite, and I can’t wait to tell you about the third volume!
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