Joshua Bryant's Reviews > The Dragonbone Chair

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
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Aug 13, 11

Read from August 12 to 13, 2011

Well, I tried to write this as positives and negatives, but the two were too intermingled to be separated.

Style:
On the whole, good writing, with some excusable mistakes and awkwardness (the one unexcusable writing mistake he does is have his main character use the word "mooncalf" two or three times every time he talks to himself. So sick of that word). He sounds like Tolkien, except a bit easier to digest. His descriptions really work usually, and sometimes strike me with their poetry. His songs even manage to pass muster.

One thing I don't like is the narration style. It's third person, and he mostly sticks close to the main character, but he skips around quite a bit too. I find this very annoying, especially when he gets into the heads of a couple of the villains. Skipping around a lot is what got Robert Jordan into trouble, I think, and sometimes with this book it's hard to tell who the narrator is following at that time.

Setting:
This is pretty interesting because he plagiarizes rather explicitly, but from so many different sources that I find it acceptable. The way I see it anyway, the country is England and the four main people groups are the same that inhabited England throughout the centuries. There's a fairly interesting history of the world too, but it doesn't feel nearly as deep or mysterious as Lord of the Rings. Concerning the general ambiance, I would say that he tries to convey a world like Lord of the Rings and doesn't quite get there.

One idea of his that I like (though it gets a bit old when he does it for so many things) is changing the words that we use just a bit. For example, the month of November = Novander. I can tell that he knows some Latin, possibly Old English/German as well, because of the way he mixes English with them to form his new words.

Plot:
First 150+ pages: nothing happens. Seriously. Well okay, but nothing I couldn't sum up in a single paragraph. It's all just setting the scene, familiarizing you with characters, but it's not effective because you're not really given a reason to remember all these names. Most of it follows Simon around, and you'll think you're back in Redwall Abbey, but you'll be even more bored than that. I'm surprised I made it through this, and I don't think it was worthwhile at all.

Then it got exciting. And it was pretty exciting, and I liked it. Then there was a dip in the action again, which was to be expected. Finally, in the last quarter of the book there was a crazy plot turn that was inevitable but was given almost no explanation. After that it was good, and it ended suspensefully. There were also a couple of scattered parts that left me annoyed--characters making decisions that were clearly so that other characters would have to be in a situation. Overall, I think the plot needs some revising, but parts of it are good enough that I have hope.

Characterization:
I think he does a pretty good job with making his characters interesting. However, I DESPISE the main character. I really can't think of any good qualities about him, except that he manages to not look too much like a fool in front of the girls that he likes.

This book has lots of annoying aspects to it but in the end I'm going to give the second book a shot, so it may not be quite as bad as I make it out to be.
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