During my senior year in high school back in 1988, I paid the criminal price of $19.95 for a hardback book from DAW publishing.

The tale of a young kitchen scullion who would become a king. I became immediately enamored with the characters and setting and history of a fantastical world called Osten Ard. Simon wandered through the halls and rooftops of the old castle Hayholt. Just a boy really when I joined the Navy on my 17th birthday, my imagination ran wild when I worked in the galley, washing dishes, and putting them in a great metal beast we called “The Dragon.”

Tad Williams created a lifelong fan in me when he wrote the first novel of the trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn called The Dragonbone Chair. I have read and re-read the trilogy at least seven times. When he decided to return to Osten Ard, I was beside myself.

The day The Witchwood Crown, book one in The Last King of Osten Ard trilogy, was released, I was in my local bookstore unashamedly throwing down $30 to purchase it. Mr. Williams does not take decades to write a book, so I waited to read it until after Empire of Grass was released. For several months, I put off the actual starting of the first book. I knew that should I fall down the rabbit hole back into Osten Ard, I would not want to leave until the story was finished.

Back in December, I finally gave in and read The Witchwood Crown. I was hooked. But I wanted to savor it. So, I waited as long as I could before taking the second book down off the shelf where it sits directly behind my desk chair. On the 4th day of May 2020, I began reading Empire of Grass.

I relished it, reading slowly and carefully—sometimes even going back a few pages to re-read a section so I did not miss one little nuance or brief description. Distance and political conflict separate King Simon and Queen Miriamele. Court intrigue and backstabbing and murder once again stalk the corridors of the ancient castle. Old friends have died, and old heroes have disappeared without a trace. Important players in this intricately-woven tapestry roam the four corners and all the space between of the land. New characters are introduced—for good and for ill.

The only criticism I have for the book (as well as the trilogy) is that I wanted the experience to last longer. Now I will suffer through possibly over a year to read the concluding book The Navigator’s Children. I feel like I did when I was a child: when will my birthday ever get here.