1. 10 & 9 Star Rating Book Review

Empire of Grass – Tad Williams (The Last King of Osten Ard #2)

“Saying peace never lasts, or that an empire must grow or die, is like saying that only birth and death matter,” she told him. “Most of life is not part of either, but what comes between–the simple hard work of living.”

So what’s the book about?

Danger lurks on all sides in Osten Ard. King Simon and Queen Miriamel’s allies in Hernystir have made a pact with the cruel Queen of the Norns. Now nothing stands in the way of the Elven armies invading the kingdoms of Osten Ard. Meanwhile, Prince Morgan wanders the forests of Aldheorte. Hunger and homesickness torment him, and wild animals are a constant danger. Moreover, the laws of nature do not seem to apply in the Sithielben forest. But to whom does the voice that haunts his dreams belong?

“The strong never need to silence the weak, or they prove that they are the truly weak ones.”

These aspects attracted me the most while reading.

  • There is a lot happening in Osten Ard and all the plot lines are getting more and more complex, making it even more exciting than the first volume, because you notice how now finally the story really starts and intrigued me like no other Osten Ard before – I wouldn’t have expected such complexity from Tad William’s more character-driven story. There are several different characters to keep up with, as well as the various intrigues of the different factions involved. The Nabbanai fighting the Thrithingsmen fighting the Hernystiri conspiring against the Erkynlanders fighting the Norns fighting the Sithi and so on until it is almost impossible to keep track of who is stabbing whom in the back. Yet despite the complexity and confusion, Williams guides us through each twist and turn like a seasoned tour guide, showing us exactly what we need to see to understand the lay of the surrounding land. Small details that seem superfluous in one chapter reappear as the narrative progresses, and at the end of the book there are still many unanswered questions.
  • Since time has not stood still in Osten Ard either, the protagonists of the first series naturally fade more and more into the background due to their age, but Tad Williams has succeeded brilliantly in filling the voids they leave behind with new characters. Thus Little Snenneq, Binabik’s future son-in-law, easily succeeds in following in his footsteps. And Prince Morgan, the grandson of Queen Miriamel and King Simon, also manages to develop more of a profile as the narrative progresses. And new characters like Jarnulf and Nezeru also fit seamlessly into the story. Although, as a supporter of Simon from the original series, I naturally find it difficult to let new favourites into my heart, I have to say that I now find it difficult to keep Simon as my only favourite. Nezeru and Jarnulf are characters that have such a dynamic of their own that it is of course fun to read all the other stories as well, but that I would love to skip chapters sometimes to read about them again. And don’t get me wrong, every chapter is pure perfection and it would be a shame to say that the other characters are not as good as this team, but there are hardly any stories that could captivate me more than these two. There is something magical about these characters. I suffer with them, understand their doubts, have my own doubts about this world – I don’t want to be in their shoes, but I find it interesting to read about them. I hope that the two of them manage to go their own way, without paying attention to their origins, but only to themselves.

“I hope not, but hope makes a flimsy armor.”

The Second.

  • Those who think that this book has a typical middle book syndrome are very much mistaken. Normally I love beginnings in a story and there is hardly anything better to read than the beginning of a fantasy series and the end of it, but Tad Williams has changed my mind here, because this book is worlds better than the first volume, although that was already terrific. I can’t put into words how exciting this book was – yes, my pulse was at 180 the whole time and I could hardly read a few pages where my pulse could calm down. In this volume, Tad Williams also manages to make the magic of Osten Ard even more intense and to hold you captive in a way that no other book by Tad Williams has done before. Small points of criticism that I had with the first volume could be eliminated here and a middle book was delivered to me that no other series has ever created. I am crazy about this series and now I really want to read more, because I can’t imagine that this series can get worse.

“If you spare a dog he will never bite you, but men are not so trustworthy.”

So what are my final thoughts about it?

It is almost impossible to summarise so much plot and inventiveness in a few sentences. Tad Willimas has once again created a well-structured volume of his sequel to Osten Ard. Anyone who thinks that the author is past his prime and has run out of fantastic ideas is very much mistaken. This volume is another stroke of genius. It is fascinating that Tad Williams has once again succeeded in making each of the storylines both varied and versatile as well as exciting. Apart from the interesting new friends of the heir to the throne, Morgan, the plotline about the half-blood girls especially captivated me and made me curious for more. Apart from these preferences, however, I can only say that the book was not long-winded at any point and every scene was excellently thought out. Tad Williams is, in my eyes, a luminary of the fantasy genre and is able to weave a complex construct of parallel plots into each other and finally bring them together in a meaningful way like no other. I love his mythical creatures and their abilities and characteristics, I have really enjoyed this one to the fullest, and can’t wait for the other two volumes.

My Rating

Rating: 10 out of 10.

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3 comments on “Empire of Grass – Tad Williams (The Last King of Osten Ard #2)

  1. Another review i can not read yet 😦 I come back when i finished it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Witchwood Crown – Tad Williams (The Last King of Osten Ard #1) – The Reading Stray

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