Tad Williams is Ruining my Calm

Life is too short for re-reads.

Do the math. If your good reading-and-comprehension (yes, some of you hear Cheech and Chong’s voices in your heads) years range from age 10 to 80, and you read 50 books a year, you get 3,500 books to read in your lifetime. If you are more prolific, like my wife who sometimes hits 100 a year, you’ll get 7,000.

There are a couple of million books published each year worldwide, and a couple of hundred thousand now in the U.S. (according to this article).

Like most people, I read a lot of books for work.

So, one is REALLY only going to read a very small fraction of the great and enjoyable fiction writing that exists in the world.

What a depressing thought. Yet another great motivator for extending one’s life! Ray Kurzweil, where are you when we need you?

When I hear of people re-reading books, or when I see my son do it, I shudder, visualizing the imaginary hourglass of book reading time trickling above their head. Well, okay, not really, but you know what I mean. Re-reading books multiple times? Really? Perish the thought.

So it is with GREAT damage to my zen and foundation of thought that I embark on a re-read of Tad Williams’ classic series Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. For those that haven’t read or heard of this series, read Daniel Kaszor’s article in the National Post, that talks about this series as an inspiration to George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series (known as Game of Thrones to HBOers) and as starting the wave of American fantasy. (Also, if interested, there is an article about a Tad Williams’ hosted book signing of Martin where Martin discussed this series as inspiration).

I can rationalize my re-read, as most people probably rationalize re-reads:

  • Williams is coming out with a sequel of books (supposedly a trilogy but with Tad…probably four books) that extends the story of Osten Ard. He is not one to normally do this, hopping genres with the best of them and rarely franchising his characters and plots.
  • I enjoyed these books immensely when I read them.
  • Though I remember enjoying them, for the life of me I can’t remember them. This isn’t a kick on the books, I don’t remember a lot of things; possibly brain full of other things or Alzheimer’s but probably CRS (Can’t Remember Sh!t). Of course, I remember basic pieces, but I don’t remember the feel of the story. I could get the basic facts from cliff notes/Wiki, or wait and determine if Williams does what he usually does, what all authors of door-stop sized tomes should do (put a “what has happened before” at the beginning of the book; take notes please, George).
  • To see if these novels stand the test of time. Fortunately or unfortunately, our heads (mine at least) are filled with visuals from Lord of the Rings movies and Game of Thrones HBO shows, replacing the mental images of Tolkein and Martin’s books. How will Memory, Sorrow and Thorn appear in my mind, 25 years later?

So, against my better judgement, I’m embarking on a re-read.

This is a big commitment. Look how thick this paperback door-stoppers are!

  • The Dragonbone Chair: 766 pages
  • Stone of Farewell: 727 pages
  • To Green Angel Tower, Part I: 796 pages
  • To Green Angel Tower, Part II (because you can still call it a trilogy if the fourth book is just Part II): 796 pages

That’s just over 3,000 pages worth of commitment. I may finish before I turn 60 in eight years.

I’d like to time it so that I finish right when the first book in The Last King of Osten Ard is released. But who knows when that might be. As a backup against my poor memory, I’ll take notes and share them with any poor souls who are in the same predicament.

Looking forward to saying hello again to Simon (at least I remember his name!).

To read the first re-read section, click here – The Dragonbone Chair Part One – Simon calf

These re-read posts and other essays have been collected into an eBook with additional essays, available by clicking on the image below.

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4 Responses

  1. samrvs2 says:

    If you stack ebooks, they don’t look nearly as tall and scary.

    • larry says:

      I don’t disagree! But these were the copies I read the first time through. Maybe tactile memory will help remember…but so far, not so much!

  2. Simon says:

    Hey there. Enjoyed this article. Im in the same boat debating a reread. Pretty much forgot all of it but remember I liked it. And my name is Simon!

  1. January 16, 2016

    […] also published his extensive re-reading notes on his own website. You can follow Larry´s re-read here, but beware it is […]

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