Book Review: Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Stone of Farewell (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #2) by Tad Williams

Five Stars

“I thought it would be like a story. I didn’t think any more people would die.”

Keeps getting better. Second installations of trilogies often suffer being bridges without beginnings or endings. No so here. Stone of Farewell advances the story (stories) and keeps the reader guessing. Like all good epic fantasy, this series is not just about just magic, swords and crowns, but life and death, love and hate. The real questions of life.

“Winning and losing are only the walls within which the game takes place. It is the living that makes a house–not the doors, not the walls.”

Williams keeps the threads advancing by adroitly pulling the rug from the various protagonists just as they start to make headway. Just when things can’t get worse, they do. Building despair and defeat at every turn; hopes cut off.

“We must speak out when evil shows itself; whether there is any hope of changing it or not.”

Allusions to literature, history and scripture add depth without bogging the story down in explanations.

“Even the bravest mortals grow sick with too much truth.”

Female roles are expanded and deeper in this volume. Had Williams not declared that he plotted the whole before writing it, one might think he’d been counseled on his narrow female depictions in The Dragonbone Chair because none of that applies here.

She “could imagine men committing virtually any evil or stupidity if freed from the proper influence of women.”

Don’t you love fantasies: where horses run all day, day after day?

“Fear goes where it is invited.”

If there’s a criticism, it’s also one of the pluses of the work: more plot threads and point-of-view characters than the casual reader can track. The scene and POV shifts are handled well, but even the dedicated reader must often pause to remember who this is and what cliffhanger did we just leave her with?

“Everything was part of something else, and each mote mattered.”

Quibble: As in The Dragonbone Chair, numerous typographic errors–look like OCR scanning errors–mar the text.

“Is it warm in heaven?”

Almost-a-spoiler: a dozen of references to someone missing and presumed dead is too broad a hint.

“We cannot ignore the knowledge of Unbeing.”

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24 thoughts on “Book Review: Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams (Five Stars)

  1. You’re probably galloping along to the 3rd book. Epic fantasy can be great. This one has captured you. Loved Rothfuss’ and still waiting for #3. And thanks again for suggesting Rothfuss’ first book!

  2. Welcome to the wonderful world of OA. Glad you’re enjoying. I didn’t have time with the multiple perspective shifts on my latest read of this novel (around the 10th in order….). But I do always find the plot entirely impossible to remember in its whole, no matter how many times I read it. It goes deep. Hope you enjoy the finale too.

  3. I’m assuming you read an older issue? The typos are a known issue there, and should be gone in the new issues DAW published last year (as a number of my friends and I helped to find those typos so they could be corrected.)

  4. Lovely to see how this exceptional story still finds new readers! Note that the typos are fixed in the new edition of MS&T that was published last year … or at least most of them are … we will prolly never catch them all.

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