Book Review: The Dragonbone Chair
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn
By Tad Williams
In the peaceful land of Osten Ard, the good king is dying-and a long-dreaded evil is about to be unleashed, as the Storm King, undead ruler of the elvishlike Sithi, seeks to regain his lost realm through a pact with one of the human royal blood. Then, driven by a spell-inspired jealousy and hate, prince will fight prince, while around them the very land begins to die.
Only a small, scattered group, the League of the Scroll, recognizes the true danger awaiting Osten Ard. And to Simon, a lowly castle scullion, apprenticed to a member of the League, dedicated to halting the coming darkness,will go the dangerous task of spearheading the quest for the solution to a riddle that offers salvation, a riddle of lost swords of power … and a quest that will see him fleeing and facing enemies straight out of a legend-maker’s worst nightmares.
Adult Point of View
The Dragonbone Chair has the elements I love in a book, it has a complex world, great characters and a use of fresh metaphors. Even with all of this I didn’t love this book, and so I conclude I must be too busy to really enjoy it. On the positive side, Simon is a great character as a bumbling youth growing into a man, Binabik is the comic relief, Prince Josua is the maligned and unfortunate brother who resists power, and Doctor Morgenes is the forgetful professor full of wisdom.
I found the sentences to be convoluted and there were too many characters and realms to keep track of comfortably. I liked the bare-bones of the story and wished it had moved along at a faster pace. The old king didn’t die until about page 80 and the discovery of the three swords didn’t happen until the last third of the book. There were too many dreams, too many songs being translated and a swarm of minutiae that kept my head abuzz.
If you decide to tackle this saga, keep a book mark in the back of the book to help keep track of people and kingdoms, and even pronunciation if you want to immerse yourself in the experience.
Here is a simplistic guide:
Erkynlanders – the main human kingdom, homeland of the two princes, Elias and Josua. Home of Simon, apprentice of Doctor Morgenes.
Hernystiri – vassal kingdom to Erkynlanders, offer some resistance to King Elias’ demands and pay a heavy price. Kingdom’s language similar to the guttural sounds of Scotland. Home of King Lluth and Princess Maegwin.
Rimmersmen – vassal kingdom to Erkynlanders, the men are bearded, large and seem to be landed vikings in temperament, traditional enemies of trolls. Home of Isgrimnur.
Nabbanai – vassal kingdom to Erkynlanders, original home of Pryates, Elias’ alchemist priest and all around bad guy. Kingdom rooted in the romantic languages of Europe. Home of the duplicitous Benigaris.
Sithi – a fabled race that some believe to be extinct, somewhat feline and elvish/fairy-like in nature. They are immortals, but have been hunted and killed by humans through the use of iron. Home of Prince Jiriki who is tied to Simon through necessity to fulfill an oath.
Trolls – a short race of folk who live high in the mountains, often ride on the backs of mountain sheep and have a deep distrust of the Rimmersmen. They seem to be immune to the cold. Homeland of Binabik, who has a pet wolf, Simon’s friend and protector.
Other things to watch out for include, multiple theologies, priests, myths, legends, giants, oracles, secret societies and swords. Don’t forget dragons too, which should seem obvious since the book has a dragonbone throne. The very essence of the story is a fight between good and evil. There are many redeeming qualities in this novel.