It's been awhile since I've read this one, but I remember really liking it. Some parts were slow, like you said, but the world was so realized and the story was captivating. I've tried reading The Dragonbone Chair but can't get into it.
It's interesting how different people react differently to the same book. I fell in love with Dragonbone Chair immediately and couldn't wait for Stone of Farewell to come out. On the other hand, I could have put War of the Flowers down sometime within the first 300 pages and not been bothered by it. But I tend to finish all of the books that I start, even the ones that I REALLY hate for some reason.
I now have Shadowmarch and Shadowplay to look forwrd to. Probably won't start them until the entire series is out though. (Yes, I'm one of THOSE people.)
So's my husband, so I understand. I read 'em as they come out. I'm one of those.
The important thing is that I still BUY the book when it comes out, even if I don't read it until the entire series is complete. *grin*
I just picked up Shadowmarch a couple of weeks ago. Like you, I'm waiting for the last book before I start reading it.
The only thing I've read of Williams' is his Memory, Sorrow, Thorn trilogy. I have those in hardcover and paperback. I remember being ticked that the publisher's broke up To Green Angel Tower into two separate volumes in paperback. It's been a long time since I've read those books but I remember enjoying them quite a bit.
I'm looking forward to this new series of his.
2008-10-17 06:51 pm (UTC)
TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER in paper
Actually, the publisher didn't have a choice about bringing the paperback out in two volumes. The book was just too fat. There are fairly specific size limitations (though these admittedly change as technology changes) on binding books in various formats. As it was, they had to use specially milled paper in order to be able to bind the hardcover as a single volume. There was no way it could have been managed in the mass market paperback.
2008-10-18 02:01 am (UTC)
Re: TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER in paper
I was going to point this out but you beat me to the punch. *grin*
Yeah, the separate volumes for To Green Angel Tower was a book binding requirement (which I see Marsha has already said). But they handled the covers well, by releasing the hardcover with two possible covers and using each as a separate cover for the paperbacks.
I remember talk at at the time of the limitations in binding necessitating the two paperback volumes. I guess what ticked me off was having to pay twice for essentially one book.
I would have preferred if they had gone back to Tad and told him he had to make it 4 books instead of a trilogy, but I guess such practices had yet to be done at that time.
And even though it annoyed me I still bought them, which, I guess is why they didn't bother coming up with some sort of packaged deal. The publisher knew the fans would pay the extra money.
I've had nearly the same reaction to his books. I've never recaptured how much I loved The Dragonbone Chair with any of his other works. He's also notable for me in that I can remember how his series begin, but I can somehow never remember how they end.
I wasn't overly impressed with War of the Flowers. It had its bright spots, but felt overly long and self-indulgent.
Hmm . . . I think I had a stronger reaction to Stone of Farewell. Nothing of his that I've read since has topped that one. Dragonbone Chair drew me in and made me want to read more, but the second book made me love Tad Williams as an author.
I also don't remember how his first series ends . . . I may have to reread it. Same for the Otherland series.
War of the Flowers, as you say, had some really good moments, but did have a few troubled spots. I think I'll remember the ending of this one though, since I was impressed by how some of the smaller moments came together there.
I really enjoyed the book. It's been awhile for me too, since I read the book, but I have told other people to read it. I loved The Dragonbone Chair, but I've been stuck about halfway through Shadowplay. I want to like it, but I can't stick with it. I really like Tad's writing, I'm just having trouble getting through it. I'm waiting for awhile and then I'm going to give it another try.
That's what happened during the lull in War of the Flowers for me. I sort of stopped reading it for a while (or read it so slowly as to be at a stop), but once I hit the midpoint and the dragon I got caught up in the book again.
Yes! A book I've read. *g*
Like you I loved The Dragonbone Chair, The Stone of Farewell and Green Angel Tower. I ate those books up as fast as I could. So when War of the Flowers came out I couldn't wait. I read it when it first came out, so with luck I won't misremember too much. Parts of this book are still very vivid for me.
The worldbuilding was the best part of this book for me. The idea of a steampunk land of faerie, the society and how it was so closely structured to...say Victorian England, just clicked with me. The power structure was twisted to say the least and the revelation of how the noble houses stayed in power--where the entire society got their power--was done well.
The secondary characters--Applecore, Poppy, and the rest--were awesome. Loved those characters and in many ways, they are what kept me reading the book. Like you, I felt there were parts of the book that just dragged. I mentally edited out big chunks of prose as I read, all for pacing reasons.
And yes, parts of this book were grim, but that didn't bother me. I have no issues with putting your characters through hell if they change and rise to the occasion.
Theo, alas, did not rise to the occasion or grow as a person until almost the very end of the book. What Theo did was whine. He whined a whole lot and made it almost impossible for me to like him as a character.
I really wanted to like Theo, even felt I should like him. But I couldn't relate to or become attached to a grown man who spent most of his time bemoaning his hard lot in life and the hand fate had dealt him. I wanted to shake him and tell him to get a grip.
Even years later it's hard for me to judge if the flaws of the book were outweighed by the worldbuilding and the fae characters. I think the message and the theme of the book got a bit buried in the slow pacing. I don't regret reading it, but I don't remember it with the fondness of Tad Williams other books.
I have to agree that Theo whined a little too much. I really came away from the book loving the other characters more. He just didn't seem all that active, meaning he didn't seem to be doing much to change his own situation. I like my main characters a little more active. He did become active, but as you say, it happens at the very end.
I liked big chunks of this and was less sure about others. The take on faerie was terrific and the prose as ever beautiful. I loved the details on things like the train journeys and some of the set pieces are very strong. But I felt let down by parts of the final section -- it seemed to me that he fudged the fighting in the city and I had to read the lake section twice (and even then I'm not sure exactly what happened). Do they know have 'clean' power? I couldn't decide. And, alas, I didn't much like Theo, but then I suspect we aren't meant to: it's a great piece of character-building in that respect.
Oh, he definitely fudged the fighting in the city (except for the killing of the dragons). It would have been good to see more of that, but since the entire book (more or less) was from Theo's POV, that would have been a little difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.
I understood what happened in the lake section I think. I do think they have clean power now . . . or rather, they've taken the horrible system they have offline. It's unclear whether they'll be able to find something else to take it's place that isn't quite so horrible. They make some references to going back to the "Tree Age", before the power system.
I don't think we're supposed to like Theo much either, which is why he sort of slipped into the background as I read. He became a narrator in some respects.
I admire the guy for his skill in constructing a big book, but I have to admit I had to force my way through this one. I dislike the protag, thought he whined, and after the first one or two grim things, began skimming in hopes of some story instead of More Grim.
But my biggest disappointment was the fae, which is where I take a sharp turn from most of his readership. I like the fae to be other, to pique my sense of awe as well as my sense of danger. Having the fae turn out to be mostly a collection of the worst traits of humans engendered a large dose of who cares? in me. Finally, it was his fine writing that carried me through, but I knew I wouldn't reread it after I was done.
Oh, the protag definitely whined, and I did reach a point where I wondered if the grimness were ever going to end, so he may have pushed that too far.
It also took me a while to . . . adjust to the Faerie. I think their assuming human traits was part of the idea--they were trying to mimic us after all, perhaps they succeeded too well?
Could be...I'm not going to fault Williams for not matching my expectations of Faerie. He did a good job with the book. Not his fault that it just didn't turn out to be my type of book.
I read this book very shortly after it came out in paperback (so in other words, it's been awhile) after I'd read his Otherland books but before I read the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn books. I liked it, but I've owned the book for years and haven't had any urges to reread it since the first time. The two things that stand out for me years later are, unfortunately, both negative: the names of the fairies (the flower theme irritated me) and the Clover Effect. In general I really don't like it when characters cross over to one world and then aren't allowed to come back, or there's some other kind of restriction on the places they're allowed to go. I know a lot of authors try to make it sound like they're happier and better off in the other world, but I'm never really sure enough to be fond of the trope.