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Samuel Chapman

Tad Williams Complicates a Perfect Fantasy Ending With a Reminder That Nothing Ever Truly Ends

When I first learned that Tad Williams was planning to revisit the world of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn in a new trilogy, I was immediately a bit skeptical. The first trilogy was so deep, thrilling, and expansive that I assumed there wouldn’t be any story left to tell. At best, I feared we’d get a pale rehash of that fantasy epic; at worst, we might be in for a Crimes of Grindelwald situation, with a new installment uneven enough to cast a pall over the entire franchise. Could the world of Osten Ard, with its deconstructions and reconstructions of fantasy’s best-known tropes, still matter in a literary landscape that takes far more cues from Martin and Sanderson than from Tolkien and Lewis?

I should have taken my own advice. Earlier this year, I argued that in the age of hopepunk, Osten Ard has never been more relevant. Empire of Grass, the second installment in the Last King of Osten Ard trilogy, drives that relevance home with Williams’s usual relentless creativity. I’ve never been happier to be wrong. There’s still one more book to go—The Navigator’s Children—but whatever happens in that final volume, these new installments have achieved something special.

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Five Years On, There’s Still Nothing Like Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things may be the least epic fantasy ever published. This year, as the story reaches its fifth anniversary, let’s take a look at why that distinction matters.

In his defense, Patrick Rothfuss does warn us on the first page.

“You might not want to buy this book,” he writes in the foreword to The Slow Regard of Silent Things. “It doesn’t do a lot of the things a classic story is supposed to do.”

Though I have great respect for Rothfuss as a storyteller, I have to disagree with him, here. Beneath the seeming simplicity of the slim volume that is Slow Regard lies a meditation on everything that makes all fantasy great—classic or otherwise. This supplemental tale set in the world of Rothfuss’s beloved Kingkiller Chronicle is the kind of polished, perfect pocket watch of a story we might more readily expect a beloved literary master to produce toward the end of an illustrious career.

On top of that, it’s so distinctive—such a singular bolt of lightning in the genre—that hardly anything like it has been published before or since. So, five years after its publication in 2014, I thought I’d take some time to reckon with Slow Regard and perhaps gain a new appreciation for its uniqueness.

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