A STARK AND WORMY KNIGHT by Tad Williams. Burton, MI; Subterranean Press; 2012. 1st trade hardcover edition.
Length: 440 pages.
Tad Williams is an acknowledged master of the multi-volume epic. Through such popular series as Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and Otherland, he has acquired a huge and devoted body of readers who eagerly await each new publication. A Stark and Wormy Knight offers those readers something both special and surprising: a virtuoso demonstration of Williams’s mastery of a variety of shorter forms.
The range of tone, theme, style, and content reflected in this generous volume is nothing short of amazing. The title story is a tale within a tale of dragons and knights and is notable for its wit and verbal inventiveness. “The Storm Door” uses The Tibetan Book of the Dead to forge a singular new approach to the traditional zombie story. “The Terrible Conflagration at the Quiller’s Mint” offers a brief, independent glimpse into the background of Williams’s Shadowmarch series. “Ants” provides an ironic account of what can happen when a marriage goes irrevocably wrong.
Two of the longer entries show Williams working, with great facility, within the fictional creations of other writers. “The Thursday Men” is a hugely entertaining foray into the world of Mike Mignolla’s Hellboy comics. The wonderfully titled “The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or the Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee” is both a first-rate fantasy and a deeply felt homage to Jack Vance’s immortal Dying Earth. Two other pieces offer rare and hard-to-find glimpses into other facets of Williams’s talent. “Bad Guy Factory” is the script for a proposed series of DC Comics that never came to fruition. “Black Sunshine” is the immensely readable screenplay for a movie that remains, at least for the moment, unproduced. One can only hope.
These and other stories and novellas comprise a stellar collection that really does contain something for everyone. For longtime Williams readers, and for anyone with a taste for literate imaginative fiction, A Stark and Wormy Knight is a welcome—and indispensable—volume.
Trade: Fully cloth-bound hardcover edition.
Table of Contents:
◦ And Ministers of Grace,
◦ A Stark And Wormy Knight,
◦ The Storm Door,
◦ The Stranger’s Hands,
◦ Bad Guy Factory,
◦ The Thursday Men,
◦ The Tenth Muse,
◦ The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or the Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee,
◦ The Terrible Conflagration at The Quiller’s Mint,
◦ Black Sunshine,
From Publishers Weekly:
“Best known for his epic fantasies, Williams offers 11 short stories that demonstrate his versatility with relative brevity. Readers only familiar with Williams's lengthy sagas will find a pleasant surprise in his ability to handle short work in different genres…”
Fine in fine dj.