There are some books that you read in your youth that you simply do not appreciate at the time.  On re-read however?! … W O W!  Tad Williams book – The Dragonbone Chair is one of these.


Cover via Amazon

I remember when I first read this, that I was bored in the beginning and really struggled to get through the early chapters but was hooked as time progressed and I got more into the characters and story.  This time while I still struggled a bit in the beginning (especially with the names) I knew what awaited me so easily powered through to nirvana and bliss!

I don’t want you to get the idea that there is something that is earth-shattering and new here … there isn’t

  • … you still have the lowly kitchen boy (Simon) doing nothing useful, the old magician (Doctor Morgenes) and the quarreling princes (Elias & Joshua)
  • … you still have the story of growth and change for all of the characters – most especially the lowly kitchen boy – from nothing which is the staple of the fantasy genre
  • … you still have dragons and sorcery, wizards and magic , monsters and mayhem & some characters that you definitely do NOT want to take home to meet mother!
  • … you still have some epic battles and fight sequences & enough death and destruction to make even George R.R. Martin happy – the story line in the book displays to me just why Memory, Sorrow and Thorn played such a large role in influencing Game of Thrones.

What you do have in the Dragonbone Chair and its sequels however is an excellent story and one that is exceedingly well written and thought out.  Its one that will keep you engaged and enthralled and will have you cheering and weeping depending upon where you are in the story.  This isn’t a simple beach holiday book (as its size makes very evident) and is very different to some of today’s more popular books.  This is a book that to me is timeless – something that keeps the old traditions of save the world quests and rags-to-riches tales and brings in new ones: epic, dark battles and underhanded politics.


Simon is a kitchen boy when The Dragonbone Chair begins, mooning around the ancient castle of the Hayholt, doing what most young boys do; avoiding chores whilst putting themselves at risk by climbing things. Soon enough Simon is apprenticed to Doctor Morgenes, a dabbler in all things academic, including magic and alchemy.

Simon is dismayed at the fact that he will not be taught magic but instead must take on the arduous task of cleaning Morgenes’ rooms and, even worse, learning to read and write. Simon, however, little realises that the adventures and battles he daydreams of are soon to become his living nightmare.

“…the whole chamber seemed much as it usually did – as though a horde of crack-brained peddlers had set up shop and then made a hasty retreat during a wild windstorm.”

After the death of the benevolent King John, his son Elias is raised to the throne and for some time the kingdom is distracted by the series of tourneys the young king is throwing. But soon the rotten core of Elias’s rule is revealed and Simon finds himself on the run from dark forces that only a select few had ever thought would return to disrupt life in Osten Ard.

My Thoughts –

I enjoyed all the characters, although it did take me time to appreciate Simon’s “mooncalf” behaviour, but when I really thought about it I realised that it was fairly normal for a fourteen year old to be a bit clueless and inquisitive.  It contains all the good staples of a Young Adult novel; innocent teenage romance and a young protagonist trying to find himself whilst finding a mystical item. Clichéd perhaps, but definitely well met with themes of betrayal and war; the staples of a good adult fantasy.

His development through the book really helped endear him to me; watching him grow from a sheltered castle boy to a young man desperately fighting for his life while not new, was as mentioned really well portrayed.

My major problem with this book is that I couldn’t even begin to pronounce some of the names/words and as I’ve already mentioned, the slow initial starting pace of the book.  While it did pick up in later chapters, the early going was a bit rough.

Character Growth & Development – 5/5

The key characters in the series are all believable and you can understand their motivations and desires quite well.  They are not static in any way and definitely grow throughout the book becoming more and more defined as the pages turn.

Story Growth & Development – 4/5

Slow to start but really gripping in later chapters.  Very well thought out book and one that is well worth a read.

Overall Rating – 9/10THE DRAGONBONE CHAIR

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I'm a geek! I love all things SciFi and Fantasy and have done since I first read LOTR as a kid. Escapism to fantastic worlds filled with weird and wonderful creatures initially for me was via books and comics, but with the recent surge in popularity of this fare in film and television also - I'm in a state of bliss! As the editor of Zone Six, I've been lucky to meet some other awesome authors and writers that share this love and passion. The great Ray Bradbury said - "Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will .. it will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again."

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