Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Williams, Tad

Entry updated 17 October 2022. Tagged: Author.

Icon made by Freepik from


Working name of US author Robert Paul Williams (1957-    ), almost all of whose work has been fantasy, including his first novel, Tailchaser's Song (1985), and whose most influential work is the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn sequence comprising The Dragonbone Chair (1988), Stone of Farewell (1990) and To Green Angel Tower (1993; vt in 2 vols Siege 1994 UK and Storm 1994 UK), which is Fantasy [for this aspect of Tad Williams's work, see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. The The Last King of Osten Ard a sequel sequence beginning with The Witchwood Crown (2017) appeared much later in Williams's career; it is set a thousand years later.

Two novellas followed: Child of an Ancient City (first version Fall 1988 Weird Tales by Williams alone; 1992 chap) with Nina Kiriki Hoffman [again see links], and Caliban's Hour (1994), the later revisiting and reinterpreting William Shakespeare's The Tempest (performed circa 1611; 1623) from the supposed Monster's viewpoint. Williams then turned to sf with the Otherland sequence – comprising City of Golden Shadow (1996), River of Blue Fire (1998), Mountain of Black Glass (1999) and Sea of Silver Light (2001) – a Near Future series set primarily in a complex set of Virtual Reality worlds under the control of a cabal of Secret Masters who we learn are collectively called the Grail Brotherhood. The relationship between these worlds and mundane reality has some similarity to that which obtains in a sophisticated Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, except that the immersion is total, and escape from the created worlds may be at the behest of the Grail Brotherhood. There are hints from the first of the importance of Paul Jonas, a human soldier who awakens from World War One into the virtual reality universe, which he traverses, burdened by onslaughts of Amnesia whenever he crosses a boundary. Dozens of other characters, whose trajectories through the worlds are sometimes very vividly described, make it difficult to retain a sense of Jonas's possible importance to the outcome of the tale. Much of the pleasure of the extended series (well over 3,000 pages) derives from characters' (and readers') explorations of individual virtual realities, several of which replicate (and distort) famous tales and fables, including The Iliad, Lewis Carroll's Alice books, L Frank Baum's Oz books, and H G Wells's The War of the Worlds (1898).

Williams has since concentrated on fantasy. [JC]

see also DAW Books.

Robert Paul Williams

born San Jose, California: 14 March 1957

works (selected)


Memory, Sorrow and Thorn



The Last King of Osten Ard

Bobby Dollar

individual titles

collections and stories


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies