The 30th Anniversary of the Classic “Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn” Novels

osten ard t

his month marks the 30th anniversary of The Dragonbone Chair, first volume in the immensely influential “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” fantasy series written by Tad Williams. The first volume was published on October 25th, 1988, and it soon became a national bestseller, inspiring fantasy authors George R. R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, and Christopher Paolini to write their own hugely successful series, and in the process changing the landscape of fantasy fiction.

The Dragonbone Chair, book 1 of Memory Sorrow and Thorn

Cover of The Dragonbone Chair, the first volume of “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”.

Writing for Barnes and Noble, Aidan Moher states, “Williams’ trilogy is quietly one of the most influential fantasies of the past 30 years, and is, in large part, responsible for the resurgence in the mainstream popularity of fantasy via HBO’s Game of Thrones, the television adaptation of  Martin’s hugely popular A Song of Ice and Fire novels—after all, Martin credits Williams’ books as a primary inspiration.

“On the surface, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn sounds like a paint-by-numbers secondary world fantasy: there’s an ancient evil threatening the medieval-flavored land of Osten Ard, a boy with a mysterious past, a scrappy princess, an evil prince, a dying king, and more magic swords, dragons, elves and dwarfs than you can shake a wand at (even if they’re referred to by different names.) It never eschews these tropes—though at the time they were less tiresome, as fantasy-readers reveled in the post-Brooks/Donaldson revitalization of secondary world fantasy. Instead, Williams’ trilogy feels like a surgically-precise dissection of those tropes.”

The Dragonbone Chair was followed by sequels Stone of Farewell (1990) and To Green Angel Tower (1993), and nearly three decades later by The Heart of What Was Lost (2017), The Witchwood Crown (2017), and the forthcoming Empire of Grass, The Navigator’s Children, The Shadow of Things to Come, as well as a few stand-alone stories, each set in Williams’ world of Osten Ard. Williams will be honored as the Writer Guest of Honor at the 2019 World Fantasy Convention.

sleeping_queen_by_kiraathu_webAs a way of celebrating the 30th anniversary of this seminal series, artist Jessica Steinke has created a beautiful illustration from The Witchwood Crown, showing the sleeping Queen of the Sithi, Likimeya y-Briseyu no’e-Sa’onserei. (The full resolution version of the piece is available on DeviantArt).

Steinke writes, “Since I read MS&T 20 years ago for the first time, the aesthetic concept of the Sithi have been a constant factor in my art and a most rewarding motiv. So I wanted to contribute something for the 30th anniversary of Osten Ard that could be shared with all fans out there. I’m looking forward to all future Osten Ard tales and many more Sithi to sketch.”

We at Treacherous Paths are honored to showcase Steinke’s beautiful art work as the fantasy world celebrates 30 years of Williams’ Osten Ard novels.

 

 

 

Reader arranges, performs “Cathyn Dair, by Silversea”, MS&T song

“Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” reader Sebastien Barwinek has posted a YouTube video of his performance and arrangement of “Cathyn Dair, by Silversea”, a song Princess Miriamele sings in To Green Angel Tower, Book 3 of “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”. Awesome!

Lyrics:

In Cathyn Dair there lived a maid
In Cathyn Dair, by Silversea,
The fairest girl was ever born
And I loved her and she loved me.
 
By Silversea the wind is cold
The grass is long, the stones are old
And hearts are bought, and love is sold
And time and time the same tale told
In cruel Cathyn Dair.
 
We met when autumn moon was high
In Cathyn Dair, by Silversea,
In silver dress and golden shoon
She danced and gave her smile to me.
 
When winter’s ice was on the roof
In Cathyn Dair. by Silversea,
We sang beside the fiery hearth
She smiled and gave her lips to me.
 
By Silversea the wind is cold
The grass is long, the stones are old
And hearts are bought, and love is sold
And time and time the same tale told
In cruel Cathyn Dair.
 
When spring was dreaming in the fields
In Cathyn Dair, by Siiversea,
In Mircha’s shrine where candles burned
She stood and pledged her troth to me.
 
When summer burned upon the hills
In Cathyn Dair, by Silversea,
The banns were posted in the town
But she came not to marry me.
 
By Silversea the wind is cold
The grass is long, the stones are old
And hearts are bought, and love is sold
And time and time the same tale told
In cruel Cathyn Dair.
 
When Autumn’s moon had come again
In Cathyn Dair, by Silversea,
I saw her dance in silver dress
The man she danced for was not me.
 
When winter showed its cruel claws
In Cathyn Dair, by Silversea,
I walked out from the city walls
No more will that place torment me.
 
By Silversea the wind is cold
The grass is long, the stones are old
And hearts are bought, and love is sold
And time and time the same tale told
In cruel Cathyn Dair …