Memory, Sorrow, Thorn after Song of Ice and Fire

Nerds_feather

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Memory, Sorrow, Thorn (M,S,T) is well-known to be a pivotal influence on GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire (SoIaF). I noticed this myself when I started Game of Thrones, and it made me happy, because M,S,T was one of my favorite pre-SoIaF epic fantasy series.

However, I'm curious: what was reading M,S,T like for people who have already read (at least the first three books of) SoIaF? What struck you about the series, especially in comparison with SoIaF?
 

thesoothsayer

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Just finished the series after completing all the existing ASoIaF books.

Wrote a long reply, but when I clicked post it said the token expired. :(

Anyway, to summarise:

I'd probably have liked it more if I hadn't read LOTR and ASoIaF before it. It has its strengths, but the overarching story arc had too much of a LOTR questing feel to it, and I didn't really fall in love with the characters although I liked Simon and Binabik.
 
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I first read MS&T when I was a kid, back in the early 90's. And I'm reading it all over again now -- after having read all the SoIaF books published to date. Well, the experience has proven quite the oposite of what I expected. I'm enjoying MS&T even more than I did the first time. Maybe because I expected I would enjoy it LESS; after SoIaF, I thought MS&T would feel a bit juvenile or even childish. It didn't. Actually, this re-reading made me realize that a book can exist within the strict boundaries of a genre (say, High Fantasy) and still be a work of so much craftsmanship that it transcends its very niche... if you know what I mean. MS&T, nowadays, certainly doesnt feel like a revolutionary Fantasy epic, but it is, in my opinion, the best possible epic done strictly within the boundaries of the genre. It is, if you allow a bit of philosophical license, the platonic ideal of a Fantasy epic. And that's why it will always hold my imagination as it first did.

Also, as big a fan of aSoIaF as I am, I have all the traditional complaints about the series: it is getting too long, and too many interesteing characters have died, without being replaced by equally interesting new ones. So, in a way, it is a relief to read a series which, although also very long, has actually come full circle, and one which has (in my opinion) a number of interesting characters up to the end. In a way, it's a curious thing that Martin has followed Williams' step in a good and in a bad way: it has gone further on the daring side of fantasy, which is great, but it has also gone much much further on the wordy side of fantasy, which can be great, but can also be not so great.

So, in my opinion, MS&T is still the great classic of modern High Fantasy.

(Please forgive any grammar mistakes. It's been a while since the last time I wrote in english. Cheers).
 

althea

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I read the series several years ago and though I quite enjoyed them,they didn't excite me as much as many other series of a similar nature that I have read.
 

mgilmour

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I found that this series was interesting enough that I bought all the books....but.....I find that Tad Williams gets lost in a lot of the descriptions. This really bogs the plot down and makes it tedious to read.....which is a shame because I actually love the overall story.
 

althea

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I got confused at various points in Tad Williams'books.I couldn't remember who was who sometimes.There was a lot of detail and many characters to cope with.As you say,mgilmour,it can be a bit tedious to read.I did like the main characters and the plots were good fantasy fare,it all got just too complicated sometimes.
I read ASOIAF after I had read Tad Williams.
I can't say it occurred to me to make any comparisons between the series.
 

Toby Frost

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For me, one of the big questions in epic fantasy is “Do I want to read X thousand pages more of this to see how it ends?” With MS&T, the answer was “yes”, but when I got to the end of A Game of Thrones it was “Well, that wasn’t bad at all but, I’m sorry to say, no”. One of the strengths of MS&T is that it has a clear goal from the start – defeat the baddies and put Josua on the throne – whereas ASOIAF is just a general brawl in a big pile of mud. I agree with Jose Francisco Botel that MS&T isn’t juvenile or childish, despite its young protagonist and the toning down of swearing etc. Its attitude towards killing and war seems pretty grown up to me. I also agree about the rambling quality of MS&T, especially when someone gets lost. It’s very hard to keep from skipping ahead when Simon gets stuck in yet another maze, snowstorm etc.
 

soulsinging

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Memory, Sorrow, Thorn (M,S,T) is well-known to be a pivotal influence on GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire (SoIaF). I noticed this myself when I started Game of Thrones, and it made me happy, because M,S,T was one of my favorite pre-SoIaF epic fantasy series.

However, I'm curious: what was reading M,S,T like for people who have already read (at least the first three books of) SoIaF? What struck you about the series, especially in comparison with SoIaF?
I read GoT through AFFC about 10 years ago and just finished MS&T (took me a little over a year). I have some extensive thoughts about this I'll outline in detail later, but for now I'll say that by quick summary is that GRRM is understating it saying it influenced him as certain points seemed outright ripped off. My other big thought is I vastly preferred MS&T and felt its tone was far more compelling than the grimdark craze that GOT kicked off.
 

soulsinging

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For me, one of the big questions in epic fantasy is “Do I want to read X thousand pages more of this to see how it ends?” With MS&T, the answer was “yes”, but when I got to the end of A Game of Thrones it was “Well, that wasn’t bad at all but, I’m sorry to say, no”. One of the strengths of MS&T is that it has a clear goal from the start – defeat the baddies and put Josua on the throne – whereas ASOIAF is just a general brawl in a big pile of mud. I agree with Jose Francisco Botel that MS&T isn’t juvenile or childish, despite its young protagonist and the toning down of swearing etc. Its attitude towards killing and war seems pretty grown up to me. I also agree about the rambling quality of MS&T, especially when someone gets lost. It’s very hard to keep from skipping ahead when Simon gets stuck in yet another maze, snowstorm etc.
I loved this trilogy but there was a part of me that filled with dread when nearing the end of book 3 Simons winds up lost in the tunnels AGAIN, and I don't think it was the dread intended. I think I see what Tad was trying to accomplish with some of these scenes, but it was the one strike against the trilogy in my mind.
 

soulsinging

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I got confused at various points in Tad Williams'books.I couldn't remember who was who sometimes.There was a lot of detail and many characters to cope with.As you say,mgilmour,it can be a bit tedious to read.I did like the main characters and the plots were good fantasy fare,it all got just too complicated sometimes.
I read ASOIAF after I had read Tad Williams.
I can't say it occurred to me to make any comparisons between the series.
I just finished it and almost want to start right over because I feel like I missed so much stuff in book 1 for this very reason... couldn't keep up with who was who and lived where. I think recent re-issues (and the kindle version) include the character and location lists common to fantasy (as well as pronunciation guides which I love), but I don't remember my old copy having those, which would have made for a lot of trouble.
 
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