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Tad Williams - The Witchwood Crown / Empire of Grass spoiler thread


kuenjato
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If as Tanahaya claims in EoG the “Unbeing” makes it as though things had never existed how can she tell a story about the Hikeda’ya philosopher who discovered the Unbeing and then was destroyed by it?  Doesn’t that contradict “the Unbeing’s” declared impact?

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Have to say, blisteringly disappointed in this book, and increasingly the series as a whole.  Pairs of characters or individual characters just blundering around the land achieving very little of anything in this latest installment. 

What was purpose of Miri's interlude with her captor?  Binabik and his wife meandering around Aldeheorte, with their daughter and spouse doing the same elsewhere.  Pasavalles as the baddie in Hayholt is nothing compared to Pyraxes, even Inch was better written.

I am still hoping that TW pulls it off in the final volume of the series with some decent writing, but this is nothing like as good as MST tri/tetrology was.

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12 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:
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It just hit me.  “The Witchwood Crown” that the Norns seek to “capture” is the name of the last intact great ship.  “The Ogre” is some defense mechanism for the ship.  The changlings are being drawn to crew the ship.

 

That's brilliant! 

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4 minutes ago, mix_masta_micah said:

That's brilliant! 

Maybe.  I just finished listening to The Empire of Grass and heard the narrator reading Prince Pratiki saying they must “capture ‘The Witchwood Crown’”.  And it dawned on my that it sounds like the 

Spoiler

name of a ship.


 

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison
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5 hours ago, Arataniello said:

Aren't the items in question though all listed in the List of Names at the end of the book?

Edit : they are.

Well… crap.  Then again we don’t know the real details of why Ruyan Vé is considered a traitor by Uttu’ku and isn’t it odd that there are 9

Spoiler

Cities but there are 8 ships?

Spoiler

 

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100 pages in, and I’m enjoying it.  I do wonder if the  Sacrifices will eventually turn on the pure-blood Norns.  Soldiers recruited from among slaves frequently do.

And, Forest Gramps has migrated from The Witcher and captured Miri.

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As before, I enjoy the Nornish characters the most.  The interactions between Pratiki, Viyeki, and other nobles, are excellent.

Pratiki thinks Utukhu is mad as a box of frogs, but courtly etiquette makes it lethally dangerous to say such a thing.  So, criticism must be framed in the most oblique terms - a form of code that only the most skilled politicians can discern.  So, it must have been at the courts of the Ch’ing Dynasty, or the Shogun.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Spoiler

I finished up Into the Narrowdark last night. Some great scenes, to be sure. For how thoroughly dislikable Morgan was until his Mowgli adventure, I'm glad Williams managed to make his budding romance charming and relatable. Who hasn't had a first hookup while wedged in a rotting tree?

I also assumed The Witchwood Crown is somehow going to be an operable spaceship, calling back the Navigator's Children to man it. 

Highly disliked Pasavelles absurd I'm Evil exposition speech to Simon. Groan worthy section there. I'm just not sure I can see this guy being a childhood sociopath who decides to destroy all humanity because his family died heroically. Williams has put great care into some of his arch villains to make their ambitions somewhat explainable, even with the thoroughly Eeeevil antagonist from Other land, Dread going through terrible childhood abuse to twist his fears into blind fury. I'm not seeing anything from Pasavalles except mustache twisting.

There are, as usual with Williams, entire characters and plot lines I feel wholly disconnected with (in this case, the formerly charming trolls seem totally wasted). All in all, I just love Williams prose and have faith that the finale will be a pretty epic conclusion to a very long and winding road.

 

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An interesting essay that discusses Utuk’ku being a dark image of Galadriel… or as I like to think of her… as Galadriel who did claim the One Ring:

https://trinuviel.tumblr.com/post/173587635154/subverting-galadriel-the-norn-queen-in-memory/amp

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13 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

An interesting essay that discusses Utuk’ku being a dark image of Galadriel… or as I like to think of her… as Galadriel who did claim the One Ring:

https://trinuviel.tumblr.com/post/173587635154/subverting-galadriel-the-norn-queen-in-memory/amp

This is wonderful analysis. I'm swiping to post in r/tadwilliams. 

 

Thanks for sharing! 

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20 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

An interesting essay that discusses Utuk’ku being a dark image of Galadriel… or as I like to think of her… as Galadriel who did claim the One Ring:

https://trinuviel.tumblr.com/post/173587635154/subverting-galadriel-the-norn-queen-in-memory/amp

Well, evil Galadriel was my nickname for her since my first re-read a couple of years ago.

Although I think Utuk'ku is kind of nastier in the sense that she got corrupted all by herself and, presumably, created or discovered all her evil magics also by herself. She didn't need the trinket of some Dark Lord to get there.

Tad did a really great job in the last two books to humanize her - when you get close to her she is just a small woman, and Tzoja actually feels for her at times (and the reader, too). And then you get Jijibo's true nature there and you just think ... WHAT THE HELL?!

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22 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

An interesting essay that discusses Utuk’ku being a dark image of Galadriel… or as I like to think of her… as Galadriel who did claim the One Ring:

https://trinuviel.tumblr.com/post/173587635154/subverting-galadriel-the-norn-queen-in-memory/amp

As I’ve said before, Galadriel claiming the Ring is one of my favourite what ifs.

The Lady, from The Black Company series, is another that I think Dark Galadriel might resemble.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
 
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The High Kingdom is in peril. The Norns have returned and are advancing from the north, threatening both the Hayholt and the Sithi strongholds of the old forest. The tribes of the Thrithings are threatening an invasion from the east. There is civil war in Nabban. The realm needs King Simon to act decisively to crush these threats, but he is bereft and grief-ridden. As the king's allies try to rally to save the kingdom, his enemies move against him.
 
The Last King of Osten Ard is a sequel series to Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, an acknowledged classic of epic fantasy. Picking up the action thirty years later, this sequel series asks hard questions about what happens to the heroes who saved the day in one story and if they are the best people to lead the land through all the complexities of life in peacetime.
 
The first two volumes of the series, The Witchwood Crown and Empire of Grass, set up a fascinating, multi-sided conflict as the human kingdoms struggle with internal divisions whilst their old Norn enemies have managed to rebuild and are now threatening a fresh offensive. But, unlike the original trilogy, Williams also spends a lot of time in the Norn camp, exploring their internal divisions and politics as well, humanising this previously faceless enemy. The result is a richer, more interesting series which is less interested in being a retread of the hero's journey (though a few characters also get arcs more akin to that).
 
Into the Narrowdark is both the third book in the series and the opening half of the concluding chapter; yet again (to the point it's virtually become a meme) Williams delivered a book far too vast to fit between two covers and the book was split in half for publication. Unfortunately, this is to this volume's detriment. In normal circumstances, Williams is the very embodiment of the "slow-burn" writer, setting up his guns very carefully in a row before firing them, but when he fires them the story comes together impressively well, even within individual novels of a series. This novel is, unfortunately, all setup and no resolution, which is fairly frustrating given, at almost 600 pages in hardcover, it's not exactly a short book.
 
The other problem is that Williams is not at all shy to revisit previous story ideas. So, for those who were kind of over the characters spending hundreds of pages lost in the Aldheorte forest in earlier books, the prospect of spending yet more time with characters wandering through the exact same woods may not entice. The same for characters lost in the Nabbanese wilderness, or roaming back and forth through the Thrithings or even just roaming lost through the labyrinth cellars of the Hayholt. If we were getting major character growth or huge backstory revelations in these sequences, that would be one thing, but we're not, or very little. After the first two books did a good job of matching plot development, worldbuilding, political intrigue and character growth, this third volume feels more like an exercise in wheel-spinning.
 
That said, Tad Williams is still an excellent prose writer and a gifted evoker of atmosphere. The few battle sequences are vivid and well-described, and Morgan, at least, gets some much-needed growth. Returning to the world of Osten Ard is like revisiting an old favourite haunt, and there is much to enjoy in the scenery even if it doesn't feel like it's moving past very quickly.
 
The book does end on a rousing, startling cliffhanger and at least the second half of the novel is complete (although being revised), but Into the Narrowdark ends up feeling exactly what it is: half a book, in urgent need of its conclusion.
 
Into the Narrowdark (***) is half of a potentially very interesting book, but until the second half is published, it's hard to fully appreciate if this novel's slow, slow-burning pace is justified. The novel is available now in the UK and USA and the final volume in the series, The Navigator's Children, should hopefully follow in 2023.

 

 

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