What I’m Excited About: Return to Osten Ard with Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

I’m a big fan of A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve read all of the books, listened to the audios, and have watched every episode of Game of Thrones. And even though I work at Penguin Random House Audio, I still can’t get an early look at The Winds of Winter. So to scratch my fantasy itch during the months between Game of Thrones seasons, I decided to try a new fantasy series. And I’m glad I did because I discovered the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy by Tad Williams. This series, which inspired George R.R. Martin to write A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF), is the perfect remedy for Winds of Winter anticipation. And the best part is that there will be more to listen to within the next few months.

Compared to the story arcs in ASOIAF, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is much more straightforward. The story begins in The Dragonbone Chair with Simon, an orphan who spends his days working menial jobs at The Hayholt, the capital city of Osten Ard. Simon serves King Prester John, the first king to unite the entire realm of Osten Ard under one crown. But Prester John is old, and his health is failing. When he passes away, the Dragonbone Chair must be occupied by one of John’s two sons: Prince Elias or Prince Josua. Being the eldest, Elias takes the throne, promising to continue Prester John’s peaceful reign. Only the transition of power from Prester John to Elias doesn’t go so well. Things immediately begin to go wrong around Osten Ard: there is no rain in the whole kingdom for months on end, creating a terrible drought. There are even rumors of mythical white ghosts roaming the countryside (sound familiar, Game of Thrones fans?).

Elias doesn’t improve the matter, ruling with an iron fist, and crushing any resistance with brutal force. Even Elias’s brother Josua disappears from the Hayholt under mysterious circumstances. During some of his usual snooping around the castle, Simon stumbles upon a secret that will shatter his small, cozy world: Josua is being imprisoned under the Hayholt by Elias and his mysterious priest Pryrates. When Simon launches a daring mission to save Josua, his world will get much bigger than the Hayholt.

This is just the beginning of the story! I told you this series was epic. Simon is joined by a memorable host of companions, whose adventures span the entire continent of Osten Ard. They will be joined by armies of Elf-like Sithi, who battle their ancient enemies the Norns. There are magic swords, epic battles, and some awkward pre-teen romance moments thrown in for good measure. The Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower continue to ramp up the stakes for Osten Ard, building to a satisfying ending that wraps up the conflict for Osten Ard’s throne and Simon’s coming-of-age story in a tidy package.

The best part about the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy is that there’s more story to come in 2017! On January 3rd 2017, PRH Audio will be publishing The Heart of What Was Lost, which takes place immediately after To Green Angel Tower, and sets the stage for a brand new trilogy, featuring Simon, Miriamele, and more of the original cast of characters. Their adventures will continue with The Witchwood Crown, on sale April 4th, 2017. Stay tuned for more in the months to come!