Title: The Dragonbone Chair
Author: Tad Williams
Goodreads Rating: 3.94
“Books are a form of magic because they span time and distance more surely than any spell or charm.“
In The Dragonbone Chair, we follow Simon, a reluctant teenage adventurer, and his traveling companions including a wolf named Qantaqa and a scholarly wizard named Bilabik. Throughout their dangerous adventure, we encounter trolls, dragons, giants, great swords, wizards, and elfish cat-like creatures. If this is starting to sound familiar, that’s because The Dragonbone Chair is a traditional, high fantasy tale and if you like The Lord of the Rings, you should give this book a try.
High fantasy tale with plenty of similarities to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
I know that some fantasy readers get tired of what can feel like a copy and paste storyline. But I absolutely love high fantasy, epic fantasy, and traditional fantasy. So all of the similarities to The Lord of the Rings was right up my alley. Binabik and the scholarly league that he’s a member of remind me of Radagast the Brown and the other wizards. The relationship between the king, his wizard, and his daughter is like Theoden, Wormtongue, and Eowyn. The elfish prince and his kind remind me of the Silvan wood elves. And the evil enemy reminds me of Sauron.
Interesting characters and personalities
In The Dragonbone Chair, we meet some cool characters towards the middle and end of the book including Binabik, Geloe, and Jiriki. One of my favorite parts about the book is that we get a taste of multiple cultures and personalities when we meet the elfish creatures, trolls, wizards, and humans.
Slow start to the book
I picked up The Dragonbone Chair after a few of the book reviewers that I follow recommended it. They mentioned that the story had a slow start and boy were they right! It took me almost 300 pages before I was fully invested in the story and the characters. I pushed through it because the reviewers mentioned that the series is worth it but this almost became a DNF.
Lacked character connection at the beginning
Along with the slow start, I also was not invested in any of the characters until the adventure really took off. For me, the main character, Simon, started off as an annoying, petulant teenager with few redeeming qualities. As the story progressed, Simon started to mature and he and a few other characters became a really cool group of adventurers that I started to root for.
Lacked clear interludes
This book would have benefited from a chapter structure like Sanderson’s or Lynch’s where there are clear interludes for secondary characters. It took a while to get used to Williams’s writing style where there are no clear interludes or indicators when we’re getting another character’s POV.
An overwhelming ending
The end of the book was a bit overwhelming. Our heroes and adventurers are scattered around the land dealing with their own problems. An evil enemy and his minions have been unleashed and seem to be able to go anywhere and everywhere. And some characters’ situations are not brought back up at all. It was a great set-up for the second book in the series… But it lacked a sense of direction as to what our characters could or will do next.
I absolutely recommend this book (with one major caveat) to anyone who is a fan of high fantasy or The Lord of the Rings. It will likely take you hundreds of pages to get into the story. But once the story takes off, it will absolutely suck you in. The beginning of the book was a 3/10 for me. The middle and end of the book were a 8/10 for me.