The trilogy thickens

Just a random observation. Here’s something from my bookshelf; a partly second-hand, partly-new set of Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy in paperback:

The trilogy thickensI understand the initial paperback release of the third volume was in two parts; this one-volume edition is in a worrisomely small font with ludicrously big pages, and still is 1000-plus where the first two are only 700-plus apiece.

I guess this happens with trilogies now and then: there are more loose threads than the writer had thought. (A quote from Williams: “This book almost killed me.”) Brings to mind the last volume of the Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light, which Robert Jordan said would be one book even if it was 2000 pages and required a wheelbarrow to move; that proved in the end (and after Jordan’s own personal end) too much to bind, not even to mention the price it would have with the wheelbarrow and all, and the final volume is now spilling and splitting into three.

And as for Williams’s trilogy — well, in the days of my youth I began reading the trilogy in Finnish. Except it wasn’t a trilogy. The copyright page said something like “this book contains the Dragonbone Chair, chapters 1–4” — and with growing horror I realized this was no trilogy, no simple thing, this was something farmed out to ten or twelve or so slender books with a biggish font and not too many pages each! (What does it tell of me that as a teen I was the type that scanned the copyright pages of books, mouthed the original names and translated-froms, puzzled out if the Finnish title was a direct translation or not, and whether that was why it felt so flat, and thought these were really interesting things to know? Yeah, that child’s getting into a university and never getting out.)

As the library I visited back then was a place I got to only once a month, there were two consecutive visits after volume 5 or so that I couldn’t get hold of volume 6, and I dropped the whole thing despite liking it very much. (That’s the problem with multi-volume works: the serpent voice of temptation whispers that you can read this other book, just to heighten the anticipation, while you wait for the next part… and then years pass and memories fade, and you can’t pick up what you no longer recall.)

Now that that end-heavy trilogy’s sitting on my bookshelf, in the original language, and waiting… well, better chances of finishing it eventually. (Heck, it feels almost like admitting unreformed shoplifting to say there’s this book I’m going to read… but haven’t yet. My transition from a penniless library-ravaging Masters student into a graduate student that bleeds his suddenly existent spare income into bookshops apparently takes years to adjust to. Or then you shouldn’t buy more books than you have time to read even if you can; but that’d be just effing unnatural.)

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