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Ser Scot A Ellison

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn/The Heart of what was Lost/The Last King of Osten Ard

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16 hours ago, redeagl said:

Now I do seriously wonder whether Pat have received a prank copy or not...

Dunno, these last few impressions seem to hoving towards pat's assessment.

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@Jiriki

Spoiler

 

There are hints, yes, and I notice them. The claim that Akhenabi made the deal with Hugh on behalf of the queen could be another. But then, why would Akhenabi suddenly change 'the plan' if he was one of the guys who implemented the halfblood breeding program? The impression we get is that a lot of things did change with Utuk'ku's awakening.

Akhenabi can talk through his own people, yes, but other Norns then realize that something is wrong with them. And there also are hints that he does something to his singers, or at least to those closest to him. And Utuk'ku didn't talk with her voice, she only communicated telepathically with her subjects as of yet. One assume people know whether that's the 'telepathic voice' of the queen or not. That she was somewhat deranged during that first audience with Viyeki is quite clear, but we knew that all along.

It is also not that unlikely that Utuk'ku is setting up Akhenabi as her scapegoat assuming that her plans involve things that will greatly harm or even destroy the Norns in the process of achieving 'ultimate victory'. If there are much greater sacrifices to be made then he might take the blame for that while she takes a more active role as soon as he is gone.

 

 

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Just now, Sword of Funny said:

I'm about 200 pages in. The book has exceeded my expectations. Thoroughly enjoying it so far. I think there is a bit of ASoIaF to it.

The beginning is pretty good. But it slows down in the middle. Most of the seeds you have seen only bear fruit very late in the book or not at all. I'm closing in on page 600 now, and we have yet to meet 

Spoiler

Aditu and Jiriki. Finally the first Sitha aside from the messenger has shown up.

Tad still very much likes to focus on unimportant stuff, building up a lot without really delivering. The best example for this would be 

Spoiler

Prince Morgan's drunken climb of Hjeldin's Tower. It takes him ages to get up there and it is actually a good read. And what happens up there is important and would have deserved an immediate investigation. Waiting to book 2 or even 3 to see it resolved is just frustrating to no end.

There is nothing wrong with not investigating/elaborating on vague hints or minor mysteries. But things that are presented as crucial plot elements should be followed up quickly enough.

Spoiler

We still have no idea what the Witchwood Crown is or what the point of the Norn master plan is. Having POV characters like Viyeki who should know stuff go on missions where there have no idea about either destination or goal is just tiresome to read.

And I enjoy it, too. But I'm pretty sure people who haven't read the other books and don't care what their beloved characters do may judge it differently.

As of yet there was nothing in this story that came as a surprise nor do I think there are many plot points that were hinted that I did not already figure out.

 

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Well, the story comes around on the last 50 pages or so. But I must say I was expecting more from that book. Much more, in fact. It doesn't feel like the first part of a trilogy but merely like the Prologue. There are a lot of great character scenes I liked - some of the stuff with Miri and Simon, Tiamak and the scholar, and especially Prince Morgan. He is fun. He is the only character whom I do not chide for his stupidity. He is a very realistically depicted spoiled adolescent.

The John Josua back story is also pretty well-done, although I'd have liked more focus on the years in-between and the effects they had on the history of the people and the world than the constant return to the war we all know about.

 There are some revelations. And one I did not see coming:

Spoiler

The fact that Tzoja is Derra. I think I could have guessed that, too, but I was too annoyed by her character. Her entire looked we were in for another round of 'Guthwulf hiding himself beneath the Hayholt' story, and I was not looking forward to that at all.

Still, the very idea that she could hide in Nakkiga after the Queen's Teeth actually began looking for her is, quite frankly, very hard to believe.

And it seems quite clear that Ommu knows who and what she is - if Unver-Deornoth can be as special as he is Derra can be, too. It is her blood that made Nezeru's special, too, and that seems to figure into the cryptic talk between Ommu and Viyeki.

But, I must say there are portions of this book that just drag on like hell.

Spoiler

The whole Norn quest essentially leads nowhere. And it is even worse that it essentially ends the same way the first book of the first trilogy - with another dragon fight. Once it became clear that we would get chapter upon chapter covering their journey to the mountain it was clear that their story would end there, without the reader learning anything about the purpose of their journey from their chapters. And that's how it is. Which means most of that was a waste of time. There is the bonding thing between Jarnulf and Nezeru but that could have continued on the journey back to Nakkiga (which most likely is going to take another book now) or could have been shown in a smaller number of chapters.

And don't get me started on the 'lucky coincidences' there. They stumble accidentally on the carcass of Igjarjuk (a pity, it would have been much better if Simon was truly no dragonslayer), they stumble accidentally on the footprints of a small dragon, and then mama dragon stumbles accidentally on them. How likely is that?

Those morons had no plan how to find a dragon or capture a dragon that was not, well, ideal size. But they should have had such plans. 

There is a twist that is sort of reminiscent of something happening in ASoS, just as the character responsible for that twist is greatly resembling a character from ASoIaF, but while the twist in itself comes as a surprise, the revelation about the character itself does not.

Spoiler

There are a lot of hints that Pasevalles must be the villain - his back story is very reminiscent of Littlefinger's, he clearly has ambitions to rise to the top, he has determined and hard side he does not often show to others, and he simply is way too diligent. And, as I've written above already, he is from Nabban. But what really gave it away too early was the fact that we know there must be evil people in or near the Hayholt (due to the attack on the Sitha and the fact that these people knew how to poison her) and then there is this letter early on that he wants to pass on via Rhona's husband. We are supposed to believe he is sending a letter to Simon and Miri to inform them about the attack on the Sitha but such a letter never reaches them. They are only informed about the whole thing upon their return, by Pasevalles himself, if I recall correctly. The letter must have gone to somebody else, perhaps to Hugh or Lady Tylleth. Whether this means Rhona is working with remains unclear, though. 

But the sad thing simply is there is no other character. Nothing in the story indicates Idela or her father Osric are more than they appear (which is truly a sad thing, actually, because it would have added more to the story) - ambitious but essentially well-meaning in-laws of the royal family. There are no hints that any of the old guard - Eolair, Tiamak, Jeremias - would be behind the whole thing, and once the attacks on the Sithi themselves become known - and the professionalism involved - it becomes even more obvious. Nobody but Pasevalles could have arranged all that.

And unfortunately his motive is also pretty straightforward. What changed his outlook on life - the Brandon he met, so to speak - was the last battle against Ineluki and the deaths of his uncle and father. It seems to me that he blames both the Sithi and the Norns for the war and wants to eradicate them all to ensure that something like that never happens. In that sense he might be thinking he is serving the common good of humanity by ridding the world of all the fairies. Whatever knowledge he has about them most likely came from the first Sitha messenger who disappeared and might still be alive somewhere although not exactly in good health.

Personal ambition seems to play a huge part, too, of course. His endgame seems to be to eventually rule through and with Morgan. As things stand it looks like he planned to rid the kingdom of Simon and Miriamele in Nabban. Now he might only ensure Miri's murder. It should be very difficult for her to get out of the snake pit in light of the fact that he chose her guards and gave her the name of Viscount Matreu as a potential ally. If she looks for help there the man most likely will finish her.

But it would be actually not have been all that bad to actually get a glimpse of what he is about aside from the fact that he is a villain (or at least a rather twisted good guy).

But we'll see what Morgan not coming back from the forest is going to do to his plans. And was the party there attacked by his men (unlikely) of the Thrithing-men (stupid plot convenience).

Still, the development of the 'doomed romance' plot was slow and painful to read. Nothing surprising happened there and it could have been much more interesting if we hadn't to go to the prelude or the prelude of the first date. I mean, come on!

Can anybody unravel the relations the Nabbanai nobility in the new book and MST? Who ended up as duke at the end of the last book?

As to the grand plan:

Spoiler

 

It is good that they are revisiting Naglimund. We always thought that there must have been a good reason why the Norns went there. But the idea the Viyeki (who actually fought in the war!) didn't recognize where the hell he was when he was close to that place is just ridiculous. Are we supposed to believe that those immortals also were dragged around on a 'need to know' basis the last time they went to war?

I guess the Whisperer and Utuk'ku are reactivating the guys who created that Storm King cult back in the day. That's what happened to that Hernystiri and the Nabbanai madman.

The idea of Utuk'ku being Akhenabi's pawn or puppet seems to be off the table in my opinion due to the mad ramblings of the Hernystiri about the stars being eyes. That's what her first words were, too, and Akhenabi didn't seem to understand them.

 

But - no real hints as to what might be going aside from the fact that evil stuff is going on. If we compare it to MST we had a pretty good picture what the Storm King was up to in general by that time, and also a preliminary plan what to do to defeat him. But in that book we have neither a rough picture of the threat nor so much of a hint what to do about it.

Edited by Lord Varys

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13 hours ago, Sword of Funny said:

I'm about 200 pages in. The book has exceeded my expectations. Thoroughly enjoying it so far. I think there is a bit of ASoIaF to it.

I felt the same way. I could definitely feel a bit of ASOIAF, and there were definitely shout-outs to George from Tad in there.

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Spoiler

I'm having trouble doing quotes within spoiler tags (worked fine before, but I can't get it to work now), so Varys, bear with me.

You chide the characters for their "stupidity". But it seems to me that 34 years have passed, and the Hayholt characters, at least, were simply caught with their guard down, as anyone naturally would be after 30+ years. This seemed realistic to me. Sure, we know that shit's going down, because we wouldn't read a book where the characters were just doing their daily routines. But they wouldn't. They've been undone from the inside, betrayed by people they considered friends and/or family.

I, too, predicted Unver. But I didn't suspect Pasevalles or Tzoja. In part because I suspected Thelia (with her knowledge of poisons) or Idela (who definitely had her own motivations, and who introduced The Aetheric Whispers to Pasevalles).

Varys, you wrote, "The fact that Tzoja is Derra. I think I could have guessed that, too, but I was too annoyed by her character. Her entire looked we were in for another round of 'Guthwulf hiding himself beneath the Hayholt' story, and I was not looking forward to that at all. " Well, Tzoja actually spends time outside the mountain, in the Animal Market outside the gates of Nakkiga, and she doesn't spend the whole book hiding. That comes later.

Why is it "unlikely" that the Talons are discovered by a dragon? If Mount Urmsheim is infested with dragons, as it seems to be, I wouldn't find this at all unlikely.

Morgan was my least favorite character. I found the Jarnulf and Nezeru parts the highlights. And I loved, loved, loved the reunion on the Lantern Bridge. Just how that reunion should have gone, after 34 years.

Varellan was to be duke at the end of TGAT; clearly, that's no longer the case. It is 34 years later.

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Still on my reread, about half way  through book two, and I'm starting to come around to Ser Scotts the sithi are from space theory.

Seriously? You seemed very skeptical weeks ago.

 

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Im at Chapter 28 now,i started reading this last night,read through the night/early morning and am continuing now.My ereader tells me i've read for a total of 9.4 hours so far @309 words/min.As a comparison,i'm reading this faster than City of Blades! (239 w/m)

I'm loving everything about this..the pace,characters and yes plot too.This is why i fell in love with Epic Fantsy.Tad and GRRM.None of these newb grmdark and  near-grimdark authors from past decade can touch these two.

Don't get me wrong,i love me some Abercrombie,Lynch etc.but i don't find any of these guys can write epic fantasy in which you can shut yourself in your room and forget about the world outside.They just don't have that mythic quality to their work that i really appreciate in my Epic Fantasy.

Ok.time for me to get lost in this book again.Hopefully i will finish it by tomorrow.:)

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5 hours ago, Jiriki said:

Seriously? You seemed very skeptical weeks ago.

Well, the Infinite and Eternal Ocean is somewhat hard to ignore. Was that already in MST? And the whole thing about dragons being as 'special' or 'different' as the Gardenborn from the other creatures of Osten Ard makes it more plausible to assume that the Garden was *really* somewhere else. But whether they are space aliens or creatures from another dimension is completely unclear. I'd actually favor the latter.

As to the spoiler tags thing: Try to do it by marking your text via the spoiler button after you have written it. That should work better than writing everything in the box.

As to the stupidity thing:

Spoiler

I don't find them so stupid, after all. But the idea that they would more or less do nothing after the royal progress of the High King and High Queen is attacked is, quite frankly, ridiculous. I understand why they can't marshal an army to strike against an enemy who might not come. But what they could do - and what they should have done over the years - is seriously considering to answer this attack with a war of their own. Just invade the lands of the Norns again, as they did before, and show them that they mean business. That could stop them from what they are doing. But this doesn't even come up as a possibility.

The other thing is that they are basically doing nothing after they return home. That is not so much their stupidity but them doing nothing, and the author not really focusing on the story. One expects that the characters actually begin to focus on the plot at hand, not so much only on their personal grief and issues. They can do that, too, but in addition to actually dealing with the plot. There are so many puzzle pieces delivered to them so early in the story and they don't even work on that. I hate that kind of writing.

I'm speaking about the Morriga-Utuk'ku connection, the general problem involving King Hugh (Why not send a small force there to investigate things and look how this little king reacts? Why preventing Eolair from doing stuff?), the evil book (I did not want to read a chapter about Tiamak and the scholar talking about irrelevant things, I wanted to read a chapter about them actually reading and discussing the book - and of that we get a few lines and then a single memory of the last reading session during the interrogation of the madman). I also expected that things really get moving now that they came back, that some people end up doing something. Why did we have to go through the archbishop telling them about the situation in Nabban and then arrival or the escritor, then the escritor audience, only to get Miri's arrival in Nabban in the next book? Why not speed things up and end them with a cliffhanger and even some sort of resolution for the Miri story in Nabban? That would have made the second half of the book much more enjoyable. In fact, the Nabban crisis could have reached the near-escalation point around the time they returned to the Hayholt with the ambassador already being there, waiting for them, resulting in them having to take measures much sooner. That wouldn't have been that hard or difficult to write. And with Miri gone we could also have gotten a much better explanation as to why Simon could not go again to find the Sithi than Miri simply not wanting him to go. It could also have laid so much on their plate that them not getting around to do important things would look a lot better.

It is not so much the stupidity of the characters but the pace in which the plot moves and the way things are described.

But there are points where stupidity really is an issue, for instance when Simon and Miri talk with each other as if Simon had not been attending any of his own royal audiences for over thirty years. He complements Miri on her success with the escritor as if they did not do that kind of thing for decades now. That just doesn't feel natural.

And quite frankly - the way they have no picture whatsoever of the things their beloved son pursued or the things he read or the way their grandson feels about his father also doesn't reflect well on their qualities as parents or human beings. The thing to do after John Josua's death years ago would have been to take Morgan in, to raise him as their son and make him feel loved and appreciated by them. Instead they apparently have their Lord Chancellor pick his friends and drinking buddies instead of doing it them themselves.

It could still not have worked out, of course, but the way the story is presented is that they are often annoyed with their grandson while not actually making enough of an effort (especially in the past) to ensure that the boy goes in the right direction. I originally thought that John Josua must have died only a few years ago - explaining both Morgan's and Simon/Miri's grief - but when it turned out to be seven years ago it is quite clear that the royal grandparents sucked as surrogate parents.

As to Tzoja:

I did not complain about her early scenes. It was somewhat interesting to learn about the life of Nezeru's mother and Viyeki's love. And her relevance to the overall story certainly becomes clear in the end. She is an important part of it, that's clear.

However, later on she is the only POV character in Nakkiga when so much interesting stuff is going on there. Where is our POV on Queen Utuk'ku? On Akhenabi? On Ommu the Whisperer and the mad Dreamer? We got Utuk'ku's own POV in MST repeatedly, and that was very interesting. Why don't we get it this time? Tad has shown that he can write pretty effectively from the point of view of Pasevalles without giving away his true plans and intentions. We certainly could have gotten a good picture of Utuk'ku's memories of sleep or her general feelings and looks on life now that she has awakened without giving us any details on the grand plan. And if that had been too hard we could have gotten Akhenabi's point of view, or at least the POV of Viyeki's uncle-in-law.

Instead we have a similar situation there than we have in TGAT. Guthwulf was an interesting character while he was actually around Elias and Pryrates and doing things there. Once he hid beneath the castle he basically just hid beneath the castle (and eventually died). Just as Tzoja is now hiding beneath the mountain. That is not interesting. I desperately hoped that the Whisperer or the Dreamer or the queen herself would await her down in that house. That would have been an interesting twist. But of course they did not.

As to the moronic Norn journey:

Well, is that mountain infested with dragons? That was never said, actually. Now, if there live a lot of dragons up there then it is not completely unlikely that they chance on one - the problem is that they apparently had no plan. None. They just climbed up the mountain and accidentally chanced on a dragon carcass and then on the footprints of a living dragon before they had even come up with the idea of doing either of that. What I'd have expected is something as trivial as the characters raising and subsequently answering questions like that: 'We have reached the mountain. How do we find a dragon small enough to carry and how do we capture it?' They should actually have made efforts to find a dragon and they should have actually discussed how to capture the dragon before doing it. Especially mentioning that they had means to sedate a dragon.

That wouldn't have been that hard. We are talking about at least two pretty old immortals here. They must have quite some things about dragons.

The reunion scenes are all pretty fine. I usually don't like long travelogues all that much where the goal is more or less fixed.

If we had had reasons to believe that they wouldn't reach their destination I'd have enjoyed Nezeru and Jarnulf much better, just as I'd have if they had hooked up in a different fashion. And sure as hell the entire novel would have better if they hadn't had that other chance encounter on the road.

Spoiler

Why this whole stupid royal progress attack thing? Why didn't Tad have Morgan and the trolls go on another nightly expedition in the wilderness while they were still further up north, chancing on the Norn party or seeing them? Then the Norns wouldn't have been as stupid as there were nor would the whole 'chance encounter' look so much as a plot convenience. It would be still, of course, but to a lesser degree.

And, hell, Jarnulf could have warned them in a completely different fashion, even as early as after his conversation with the corpse-giant. Knowing that the Norn queen was awake again would have been enough for a warning, and the whole part about the Witchwood Crown could have come from a dream Simon or another character had.

 

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On 7/4/2017 at 3:24 AM, AncalagonTheBlack said:

Im at Chapter 28 now,i started reading this last night,read through the night/early morning and am continuing now.My ereader tells me i've read for a total of 9.4 hours so far @309 words/min.As a comparison,i'm reading this faster than City of Blades! (239 w/m)

I'm loving everything about this..the pace,characters and yes plot too.This is why i fell in love with Epic Fantsy.Tad and GRRM.None of these newb grmdark and  near-grimdark authors from past decade can touch these two.

Don't get me wrong,i love me some Abercrombie,Lynch etc.but i don't find any of these guys can write epic fantasy in which you can shut yourself in your room and forget about the world outside.They just don't have that mythic quality to their work that i really appreciate in my Epic Fantasy.

Ok.time for me to get lost in this book again.Hopefully i will finish it by tomorrow.:)

I felt almost entirely the same. Aside from a couple of new characters that I didn't like, I fell in love with the new characters, and felt reunited with old friends, the old characters. And I enjoyed nearly all of the plot. There were only a few small things I didn't like.

Enjoy the second half!

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On 7/4/2017 at 1:46 AM, Darth Richard II said:

Still on my reread, about half way  through book two, and I'm starting to come around to Ser Scotts the sithi are from space theory.

Muahahahahahaahahahahahaha.

I just got the book yesterday.

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On 03/07/2017 at 7:24 AM, kuenjato said:

Dunno, these last few impressions seem to hoving towards pat's assessment.

Some will like it, some won't. 

We'll know this coming week if the book hit the NYT bestsellers list. But with only 156 ratings on Goodreads 2 weeks following the release date (and maybe of those coming from people like me who did not pay for it), it appears that TWC didn't sell that much out of the gate. We can only hope that this is not the case, for both Daw Books and the fantasy genre need this novel to a commercial success. . .

Hopefully fans have bought it, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Which would explain the low number of ratings on Goodreads.

I was expecting THoWWL to make it on the NYT list, yet it didn't. But it was a companion book, so to speak, so it's understandable. With all the fanfare prior to the publication of TWC, if it's not a bestseller, that would suck.

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Like the movie industry, publishing needs some books to do well. A lot has been put into this one, hoping for commercial success. If it tanks, it won't be good for Daw and Tad's other publishers. Bestsellers bring in the money that allows publishers to sign lesser known names, midlist authors, and try new things.

TWC was meant to be this summer's fantasy bestseller. Hopefully it did do well enough to make it on the NYT list.

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2 hours ago, Lord Patrek said:

TWC was meant to be this summer's fantasy bestseller. Hopefully it did do well enough to make it on the NYT list.

I'd really like a source on that one.

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2 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

DAW is fine, they got that NotW 10th anniversary...thing coming out. And Tad has other publishers?

Yes. "The Burning Man" and Child of an Ancient City were published by TOR, The Very Best of Tad Williams was published by Tachyon Publications. Dead Man's Hand, with Tad's short story, "Strong Medicine", was published by Titan Books. The Dragons of Ordinary Farm books were published by Harper Collins in the US. Harper Prism published Caliban's Hour and also Mirrorworld. Subterranean Press published Rite and A Stark and Wormy Night. And of course there are the international editions published by various companies around the world, from Serbia to China. DAW have been Tad's primary publishers in the US, but they are certainly not the only ones.

But I'm not sure why all these companies would need The Witchwood Crown to be a US bestseller, as they are not involved.

Edited by Jiriki

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