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review 2017-04-20 10:20
Tad Williams' sensationelle Rückkehr nach Osten Ard
Das Herz der verlorenen Dinge: Ein Roman aus Osten Ard - Tad Williams,Cornelia Holfelder-von der Tann

29 Jahre sind vergangen, seit Tad Williams den ersten Band seiner Trilogie (bzw. Tetralogie) „Das Geheimnis der Großen Schwerter“ erstveröffentlichte. Der Abschluss des Mehrteilers liegt 24 Jahre zurück. Ich denke, wir können über den Autor demzufolge getrost als Urgestein der High Fantasy sprechen. Wenn ein Urgestein nach so vielen Jahren in seine erste Welt zurückkehrt und eine Geschichte, die die Fans für längst abgeschlossen hielten, weiterführt, ist das eine Sensation. Ohne Wenn und Aber. Als ich hörte, dass es ab 2017 neue Abenteuer aus Osten Ard geben wird, war ich völlig aus dem Häuschen. „Das Herz der Verlorenen Dinge“ ist ein kleiner Vorgeschmack auf Williams‘ Trilogie „Der Letzte König von Osten Ard“ und schließt eine bedeutende Handlungslücke. Klett-Cotta war so freundlich, mir ein heißersehntes Rezensionsexemplar zur Verfügung zu stellen.

 

Der Sturmkönig wurde besiegt. Das Gute triumphierte, das Böse wurde zurückgedrängt und Osten Ard ist wieder frei. Ebenso wie die Menschen erlitten die gefürchteten Nornen in dem verheerenden Kampf am Hochhorst schreckliche Verluste. Die wenigen Überlebenden versuchen, sich vor dem Zorn der Sterblichen in ihre Heimat zu retten, den tief im Norden thronenden Berg Sturmspitze, in dem ihre Königin Utuk’ku in einem gefährlichen komatösen Heilschlaf liegt. Ihr Rückzug zieht eine blutige Spur durch das Land. Plündernd und mordend verwüsten sie jedes Dorf, das ihren Weg kreuzt. Herzog Isgrimnur und seine Männer nehmen die Verfolgung auf und treiben die Weißfüchse mitleidlos vor sich her. Wie soll die Menschheit je wieder in Frieden leben, solange die finsteren Verwandten der Sithi unter der Erde ihr Unwesen treiben? Der Krieg mag beendet sein, doch die letzte Schlacht ist noch nicht geschlagen.

 

Auf die Gefahr hin, wie das größte Sensibelchen der Welt zu wirken: beinahe hätte ich schon beim Vorwort geheult. Ich war ehrlich ergriffen von den liebevollen Worten, die Tad Williams an seine Fans richtet. Er schreibt, ohne die beharrlichen Nachfragen seiner Leser_innen, ihre Liebe und Leidenschaft, hätte er niemals nach Osten Ard zurückgefunden. Ich finde, da ist ein bisschen Pipi in den Augen gerechtfertigt, außerdem versetzte mich diese Einleitung ohne Umschweife in die perfekte Stimmung für alles, was noch folgen würde. Es war fantastisch, nach Osten Ard zurückzukehren. Ich hatte beim Lesen deutlich das Gefühl, in die Vergangenheit zu blicken, als befände ich mich im Verhältnis zu der erzählten Zeit in der Zukunft. Dieser Eindruck ist sicher beabsichtigt und passt vorzüglich zu der neuen Trilogie „Der Letzte König von Osten Ard“, die in einer Ära angesiedelt ist, in der Simon und Miriamel bereits Großeltern sind. Zugegeben, ich war ein bisschen enttäuscht, dass das Königspaar in „Das Herz der Verlorenen Dinge“ nicht persönlich auftritt. Ich überwand diesen kleinen Dämpfer jedoch schnell, weil ich mich stattdessen über das Wiedersehen mit Herzog Isgrimnur freute. Ich mochte den alten Rimmersmann immer gern und war nur allzu bereit, ihn auf seinem Feldzug gegen die nebulösen Nornen zu begleiten. Es überraschte mich daher, dass Tad Williams seine ehemals gradlinige Einteilung in Gut und Böse in diesem Zwischenband aufweicht. Ich war darauf vorbereitet, dass seine Tolkien-artige Welt wenig Graustufen enthält und deutlich umrissen ist, wer als Antagonist herhalten muss. Nun bot er mir statt einer epischen, einseitigen Schlacht eine sehr ausgeglichene Schilderung des vorerst letzten Kampfes zwischen Menschen und Nornen, in dem er als Erzähler niemanden bevorzugt. Er streut Chronistenberichte der Nornen ein, die einige Handlungsabschnitte zusammenfassen und so kleine Zeitraffer erlauben. Wechselnde Perspektiven öffnen den Horizont der Geschichte, da Williams beide Völker als gleichberechtigte Beteiligte des Konflikts behandelt. Isgrimnur, der menschliche Soldat Porto (dessen Name und Persönlichkeit vielleicht absichtlich eine frappierende Ähnlichkeit mit Dumas’ Porthos aufweisen) und der Weißfuchs Viyeki – sie alle erhalten dieselbe Chance, ihre Sichtweise darzulegen. Beide Seiten erleben Heldenmut, Tragödien, Verluste, die vielen Gesichter des Krieges, die Williams gewohnt unverhohlen beschreibt. Ob in erster Reihe oder bei den Versorgungstruppen, eine Schlacht ist immer hässlich, selbst für die unnahbaren Nornen. Der unerwartet tiefe Einblick in ihre Kultur gefiel mir hervorragend. Was die Hikeda’ya am dringendsten benötigen, ist Veränderung. Ihre eigene schwerfällige, traditionsbewusste Starre droht sie zu ersticken. Die Frage ist, werden sie sich ändern? Werden sie neue Wege beschreiten, um zu überleben? Ich freue mich wie ein Kleinkind darauf, diesen Fragen in „Der Letzte König von Osten Ard“ nachzugehen, denn ich vertraue Tad Williams, dass seine Gedanken die gleiche Richtung einschlugen wie meine.

 

Ich habe nie daran gezweifelt, dass Tad Williams würdevoll in sein Universum zurückkehren würde. „Das Herz der Verlorenen Dinge“ las sich leichter und flüssiger als „Das Geheimnis der Großen Schwerter“, obwohl ich es weniger atmosphärisch fand und mir etwas die Detailverliebtheit der Originalbände fehlte. Ich kann erkennen, welche Türen dieses Zwischenspiel für die nachfolgende Trilogie öffnet und habe durch die Lektüre definitiv richtig Lust auf weitere Abenteuer in Osten Ard bekommen. Dieser kleine Appetithappen verspricht eine Vielzahl neuer, aufregender Geschichten, die all das weiterführen, was vor fast 30 Jahren begann. Ein Prequel, das gleichzeitig ein Sequel ist – was für eine phänomenale Idee. Ich bin so gespannt, was aus Simon geworden ist und kann es kaum erwarten, all meine alten Freunde wiederzusehen. Danke, Tad Williams. Danke, dass Sie ein Autor sind, der auf seine Fans hört. Danke, dass Sie uns dieses Geschenk machen.

 

Vielen Dank an den Verlag Klett-Cotta bzw. Hobbit Presse für die Bereitstellung dieses Rezensionsexemplars im Austausch für eine ehrliche Rezension!

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text 2017-03-21 21:00
Stone of Farewell / Tad Williams
Stone of Farewell - Tad Williams

It is a time of darkness, dread, and ultimate testing for the realm of Osten Ard, for the wild magic and terrifying minions of the undead Sithi ruler, Ineluki the Storm King, are spreading their seemingly undefeatable evil across the kingdom.

With the very land blighted by the power of Ineluki’s wrath, the tattered remnants of a once-proud human army flee in search of a last sanctuary and rallying point—the Stone of Farewell, a place shrouded in mystery and ancient sorrow.

An even as Prince Josua seeks to rally his scattered forces, Simon and the surviving members of the League of the Scroll are desperately struggling to discover the truth behind an almost-forgotten legend, which will take them from the fallen citadels of humans to the secret heartland of the Sithi—where near-immortals must at last decide whether to ally with the race of men in a final war against those of their own blood.


As I look back on the reading experience for Stone of Farewell, I wonder exactly why I enjoyed it so much? I mean, not an awful lot happens. Simon returns to being a pouty, immature boy more often than not. There’s an awful lot of walking, while keeping a look-out for the bad guys. In fact, you could probably sum up the whole book in one sentence: Most of the good guys get to the Stone of Farewell.

I guess what made it worthwhile for me was learning quite a bit more about the Sithi (Williams’ version of Elves). Plus getting some back-story for Ineluki, the Storm King, to find out what turned him into the vengeful creature that is threatening all of Osten Ard. There’s also a peek into Troll culture and a love interest for poor, patient old Binibik.

The character who really gets left in the lurch in this volume is Miriamele, King Elias’ daughter. I would be reading book three regardless, but it is her fate that really is pulling me along at this point. I must know what happens!

This is pretty standard fantasy fare and if you enjoy high fantasy, you are likely to enjoy the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. Those who don’t like elves, trolls, and magic swords should definitely pass this series by!

Book 250 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2017-02-17 21:35
The Dragonbone Chair / Tad Williams
The Dragonbone Chair - Tad Williams

A war fueled by the powers of dark sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard—for Prester John, the High King, lies dying. And with his death, the Storm King, the undead ruler of the elf-like Sithi, seizes the chance to regain his lost realm through a pact with the newly ascended king. Knowing the consequences of this bargain, the king’s younger brother joins with a small, scattered group of scholars, the League of the Scroll, to confront the true danger threatening Osten Ard.

Simon, a kitchen boy from the royal castle unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League, will be sent on a quest that offers the only hope of salvation, a deadly riddle concerning long-lost swords of power. Compelled by fate and perilous magics, he must leave the only home he’s ever known and face enemies more terrifying than Osten Ard has ever seen, even as the land itself begins to die.

 

Oh, the orphan boy with unknown talents, who under-performs until the pressure is applied—how many fantasy stories have you read with this structure? Let’s see--Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey, The Riftwar Saga by Raymond Feist, The Belgariad by David Eddings, The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, even to some extent The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien (substitute “hobbit” for “boy”). Maybe even the King Arthur story to some extent—until young Arthur pulls the sword from the stone. It’s a well-used idea.

At the book’s beginning, I found Simon particularly annoying. As lives go in Midieval-like settings, his lot in life isn’t so bad, although the housekeeper Rachel does make his existence somewhat miserable. However, we all have to earn our keep, so pull up your socks, laddie, and make an effort! Even when offered opportunities to learn to read and to study, he complains! Typical 14-year-old, I guess, something I wouldn’t know about, having had the reading bug ever since I learned to read. Simon doesn’t appreciate his warm bed, three square meals a day, and secure surroundings until he has to flee the castle.

Once he starts running for his life, Simon begins growing up. He becomes a much more likeable character at that point and I began to get invested in his tale. He loses some of the ADHD qualities that made him a “mooncalf” in the beginning and becomes a much more focused young man.
I also appreciated a brand new take on trolls—making them smaller, wiser, and wilier. I liked Binobik and his wolf companion a lot. The Sithi are interesting in their ambiguity—are they enlightened, ethereal beings like the elves in Tolkien? Or are they the dark enemies of mankind? The world of Osten Ard is very detailed and easy to picture in the mind’s eye.

The writing isn’t the best ever, but the story is engaging and I am waiting impatiently for volume 2 at my public library, where it is ‘on order.’ No telling how long I will have to pause before I know what happens to Simon, the kingdom, and the Storm King!

Book number 239 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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review 2017-02-12 04:00
A Cat's Life
Tailchaser's Song - Tad Williams

I remember seeing this book at my friend's house years ago and borrowing it for a bit of a read. Mind you my friend is a bit of a booknerd like me, though these days our tastes in books have taken a bit (or a lot) of a divergence. The thing is that while he went on to study social work I went on to study an arts degree. The other thing is that I had an English teacher that would rile against what he considered to be airport trash, and books like those by [author:Stephen King], were basically off of his list. In fact I remember writing a play about a young adult named Brian Megadethhead who was ordered by a judge to either go back to school (and a Catholic school at that) or go to gaol – he decided to go back to school. Needless to say my English teacher wasn't all that impressed and spent the rest of the year decrying Megadeth as well as having a go at Stephen King novels, or whatever the current fad was at the time.

 

Mind you, whenever I am in an airport I do like to have a wander through the bookshop just to see what is actually sitting on the shelf and to see if there are actually any books that my teacher would actually approve, and while it has been years since I was in his class, and am not even sure if he is still teaching English, I still wonder whether [book:Life of Pi] would actually appear on his list of banned books, considering the last time I wondered through an airport bookshop that was the only book that I thought would be acceptable to him (though I suspect that Fifty Shades of Grey would). Anyway, most long haul international flights have a television in the back of the seat with more shows than one could even watch in a twelve hour period that the need to buy rubbish at airport bookshops is probably no longer necessary.

 

Anyway, on to this book, even though it has been quite a while since I have read it, but the fact that I have read it (albeit a long time ago) I feel that I should probably say a few things about it. Mind you, I should try to get my hands on it to read it again because it was, to put it bluntly, nothing short of awesome. Mind you, with all the other books out there, as well as the books on my shelf, reading this again might be a little lower on my list of priorities, though I'm sure if I see it in a bookshop I would probably buy it, and then proceed to read it again – that was how much I enjoyed it. In fact, I believe I have seen other books written by Tad Williams, and the name always rang a bell, it is just it wasn't until I looked this book up on Wikipedia as a bit of an aide de memoire that I suddenly connected him with this book.

 

So, Tailchaser's song is about a cat in the world where cats have a civilisation and communicate with each other. In fact they have their own mythology, and while humans exist, they tend to be these creatures that live in a mysterious world, a world that sometimes crosses with that of the cats, but not by much. In fact all of the animals have their own cultures and mythologies, it is just that the cats' world is the main focus of the book. The thing is that this book is about cats and about how these cats go on a quest and end up saving the world from a particularly evil and nasty cat, and honestly who doesn't love cats.

 

Well, cat haters of course, but then as they say haters are gonna hate. Mind you, there are people who are allergic to cats, so I can understand why they aren't particularly fond of them, but I have to admit that you got to love the rather eccentric nature of our feline companions, even though, as they say, dogs have masters and cats have staff. Actually, that is why my friend prefers cats over dogs – dogs tend to be dependent and incredibly clingy (I'm sure dog owners have discovered what happens when you bring a new dog home and then go to sleep only to be kept awake all night from howls of loneliness) while cats tend to be independent. Well, they are independent to an extent because when they want something (usually something to eat) you generally know about it. Unfortunately 'go catch a mouse' generally doesn't work.

 

The main reason that this book came to mind is because I started reading Duncton Wood, which I had picked up cheap from my Church's fate (though it turned out that I picked up books two, three, and four, but fortunately I found book one at a bookshop around the corner), which is similar, but about moles. The other interesting thing is that with these books everybody seems to make comments about the similarities between this book, Watership Down, and Lord of the Rings. The thing is that any book that happens to be a fantasy book is considered to be similar to Lord of the Rings, but that is not surprising because it is probably the most well known fantasy book out there. As for Watership Downs, I have to admit that I haven't read it yet, though I should make an effort to do so someday.

 

Oh, before I forget, apparently they will be releasing a movie based on this book in 2018 so I'm going to have to keep an eye out for it.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1910684742
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review 2016-04-17 00:00
To Green Angel Tower, Part 2
To Green Angel Tower, Part 2 - Tad Williams This final volume (or semi-volume if you prefer) gets an extra one of my stingy stars because the way it wrapped up the various threads of the saga really pleased me. In particular, the metaphysical conclusion was simple and comprehensible. The three swords that the various groups of characters have striven to bring together are in fact the "false messenger" warned of throughout the trilogy. Their power, brought together - in the hands of their three bearers, Elias, Sir Camaris, and Simon (whose genealogy fortunately turns out to be rather splendid) - opens up the possibility of time travel for the mad undead Ineluki, so he can take possession of Elias. However, Simon figures out that hate is the motivating power of the swords, and exerting himself to pity and forgiveness reduces the power of his sword (Bright-Nail); Sir Camaris, the reluctant warrior, also finds forgiveness in himself and reduces Thorn's power; that leaves Elias, who has just - halfway to becoming Ineluki - completely destroyed the mad/bad priest Pryrates. Elias is irredeemable, though he has a brief moment of communication with his daughter Miriamele; she mercifully puts him out of his misery with a white Sithi arrow, and Ineluki's bid for renewed life is denied. Meanwhile, outside, everything falls down and generally turns into chaos, and there's a lot of barely-surviving.

I was quite caught up in it, and think I will recommend this sequence (I really can't call it a trilogy) to any fantasy-reading friends who have not yet discovered it.
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