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Williams, Tad 1957- (Robert Paul Tad Williams)

Williams, Tad 1957- (Robert Paul Tad Williams)


Born 1957; married; wife's name Nancy; children: yes.


Home—London, England; San Francisco, CA. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, novelist, film and television screenwriter, illustrator, musician, and educator. Apple Computers, Knowledge Engineering Department, technical writer; host of One Step Beyond (talk show), on KFKC Radio. Author and coproducer of Valleyvision (a television series). Worked variously as a singer, shoe salesperson, manager of a financial institution, newspaper carrier, insurance salesperson, loan collector, commercial artist, college and high school instructor, television producer, and multimedia computer worker.


John W. Campbell Award nomination for Best Newcomer in Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1986, for Tailchaser's Song.



Tailchaser's Song, DAW (New York, NY), 1985.

(With Nina Kiriki Hoffman) Child of an Ancient City, illustrated by Greg Hildebrandt, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1992.

(Self-illustrated) Caliban's Hour, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1994.

The War of the Flowers, DAW (New York, NY), 2003.

Shadowmarch, DAW (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Raymond E. Feist, Sean J. Jordan, and Robin Gillespie) The Wood Boy-The Burning Man, Dabel Brothers Productions, 2005.

Shadowplay (sequel to Shadowmarch), DAW (New York, NY), 2006.

Rite: Short Work (short stories), Subterranean Press (Burton, MI), 2006.


The Dragonbone Chair, DAW (New York, NY), 1988.

Stone of Farewell, DAW (New York, NY), 1990.

To Green Angel Tower, DAW (New York, NY), 1993.


Siege, Legend, 1994.

Storm, Orbit, 1994.


City of Golden Shadow, DAW (New York, NY), 1996.

River of Blue Fire, DAW (New York, NY), 1998.

Mountain of Black Glass, DAW (New York, NY), 1999.

Sea of Silver Light, DAW (New York, NY), 2001.

Also author of comic book series Mirror World, Techno-Comics, and The Next, DC Comics; contributor to comic book series 52, DC Comics.

Author's works have been translated into twenty languages.


Fantasy writer Tad Williams's first novel, Tailchaser's Song, tells the story of Fritti Tailchaser, a cat whose prospective mate, Hushpad, vanishes. When Tailchaser tries to locate her, he finds himself on a quest against an evil cat god. Along the way, he meets many cats, including the Queen of the entire species, and learns much of the lore of his kind. A Publishers Weekly critic lauded Tailchaser's Song, which was nominated for a John W. Campbell Award, as an "extravagantly detailed fantasy" that "should engage the fancy of cat lovers."

Williams followed Tailchaser's Song with the first book in his "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" trilogy, The Dragonbone Chair. The novel's protagonist, Simon, is a young scullion in the evil King Elias's castle who is taken under the wing of Morgenes, a doctor and magician. After Simon and Morgenes aide Elias's younger brother Joshua, Simon sets off on a quest for three magic swords, one of which is discovered by the story's end. Simon's companions on the journey include a wolf named Qantaqa and a troll called Binabik; in the background are also the elfin Sithi, an ancient immortal race. Though Publishers Weekly reviewer Sybil Steinberg labeled the book "derivative," the critic did concede that the book is "richly detailed, sweeping" and "colorfully characterized."

In Stone of Farewell, Williams continues the story of Simon, who becomes the first mortal to enter the realm of the Sithi. He enlists their aid against Elias and the Storm King, Ineluki. Library Journal reviewer Jackie Cassada applauded the second book's "vivid, likable characters and exotic cultures." A Publishers Weekly critic called Stone of Farewell "panoramic, vigorous," and "often moving."

Williams brought the "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" trilogy to a conclusion with To Green Angel Tower, in which the enemies of Elias and Ineluki come together, along with all three swords needed to defeat them. The action is "suitably apocalyptic," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who also praised "the extraordinary tension built up in the book's closing pages."

Before the publication of To Green Angel Tower, Williams collaborated with Nina Kiriki Hoffman on Child of an Ancient City. In this work, which includes illustrations by artist Greg Hildebrandt, travelers pursued by a "vampyr" challenge the being to a story contest. If the travelers win, they may continue their journey unmolested, but if the vampyr wins, he will devour them. Sally Estes, writing in Booklist, hailed Child of an Ancient City as "a haunting fantasy in which the ill-fated ‘monster’ is as sad to behold as Dr. Frankenstein's creation."

The novel Caliban's Hour, which appeared in 1994, is Williams's narrative extension of Shakespeare's play The Tempest. Twenty years after the events of the play, the slave Caliban arrives in Italy to confront Miranda, the daughter of Prospero. Having left the island where she and her father were exiled, Miranda is now a mature woman and Caliban intends to enact revenge for the unpleasant treatment he received from her and her father. According to a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, Williams's "prose is lucid and smooth" and "puts a very different spin on events."

Williams's "Otherland" series is set in a complex, multi-dimensional world built and run by the mysterious and deadly Grail Brotherhood. This world contains endless virtual realms which brave adventurers break into and search for the secret of the Brotherhood's existence. Jackie Cassada, writing in Library Journal, noted that the "Otherland" books are "filled with complex plot threads, a wide variety of virtual and ‘real’ characters and vivid descriptions of numerous worlds." Roland Green in Booklist called the "Otherland" series "the work of a powerful imagination and high-class world builder." "Though the sheer weight of the series is daunting," admitted the critic for Publishers Weekly, "Williams fills his pages with the sort of stories and characters that readers of epic fantasy are sure to love."

In The War of the Flowers, down-on-his-luck rock musician Theo Vilmos loses his girlfriend, who is pregnant with their first child, and feels his world spinning out of control. With little else to do, he makes a journey to his family's remote cabin to reconsider his life and decide what to do next. In the cabin, he makes an unusual discovery: a book written by his deceased uncle, Eamonn Dowd, that describes the strange lands of Faerie, where no humans live and where trolls, flying faeries, dragons, and other odd creatures dwell. Even more curious is the fact that his Uncle Eamonn claims in the book to have visited the Faerie lands and seen the sights first-hand. While reconsidering his uncle's claim to sanity, Theo is himself visited by two peculiar visitors: a walking corpse and a cranky, foul-mouthed faery named Applecore. When the corpse starts trying to break down the door, Applecore rushes Theo through a magical gateway into Faerie. There, accompanied by Applecore, he is pursued by unknown agents who wish to do him harm. As he explores his new surroundings, he begins slowly to adjust, make friends, and even recover from the trauma of his life in the human world. Meanwhile, Theo encounters the realm's tyrannical rules, each for a type of flower. He also unexpectedly falls in love and discovers surprising information about his family background. In assessing the novel in a Booklist reviewer, critic Roland Green observed that "Williams has a supremely powerful, if not altogether disciplined, imagination." "Travel into another dimension is a popular fantasy ploy, but rarely accomplished with such humor, terror, and even logic as in this stand-alone" novel, remarked a Publishers Weekly writer. "Strong storytelling and memorable characters make this stand-alone cross-world fantasy the author's best work to date," commented Jackie Cassada in Library Journal.

With his novel Shadowmarch, Williams "opens another of the intricate, intriguing sagas that are his stock-in-trade," remarked Frieda Murray in Booklist. In the land of Eion, there are many kingdoms, and the land is divided into two separate realms by the Shadowline, a borderline that separates the twilight world of the Faery Quar from the lands of light where humans live. In the kingdom of Southmarch, King Olin has been kidnapped, and elder son Kendrick is left to rule in his absence and to raise the ransom. Unexpectedly, Kendrick is viciously murdered, leaving his twin siblings, Barrick and Briony, the task of ruling Southmarch and freeing their father from his dangerous captors. Meanwhile, the stoneworking Chert people have begun to realize that the Shadowline is moving, gradually encroaching on the human lands while making the twilight realms larger. And elsewhere, Nushash priestess Quinnitan has abandoned her religious order and seeks to become the bride of the God. The separate storylines grow and evolve until they come together at the novel's climax. Williams "brings his world into sharp focus, a place where readers can walk among the many characters and live for a while in their lands," observed Michele Winship in Kliatt. A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded: "The author's richly detailed world will enchant established fans and win new converts."

A selection of Williams's short fiction is showcased in Rite: Short Work. The collection contains fifteen short stories, plus a number of nonfiction pieces and television scripts. "Three Duets for Virgin and Nose-Horn" addresses the life and mythology of the unicorn. In "The Writer's Child" a child tells a poignant story about another child reading a story. "Child of an Ancient City" presents the story that was expanded by Williams and Nina Kiriki Hoffman into the novel of the same name. "Not with a Whimper, Either" considers another angle on the super-powerful computer that tries to take over the world. Booklist contributor Frieda Murray noted that "Williams introduces each piece, which makes these even more of a treat for his fans." Williams's short work demonstrates a "wickedly keen sense of humor and, at times, a feel for the poignant," commented Jackie Cassada in a Booklist review. A Publishers Weekly contributor remarked on the "lyrical fun of the fiction" in the collection and noted that Williams's "stand-alone stories make this volume worthwhile."



Analog Science Fiction-Science Fact, July, 1986, Tom Easton, review of Tailchaser's Song, p. 181.

Booklist, December 1, 1992, Sally Estes, review of Child of an Ancient City, p. 662; February 1, 1993, Sally Estes, review of To Green Angel Tower, p. 955; January 1, 1995, Margaret Flanagan, review of Caliban's Hour, p. 804; October 1, 1996, Roland Green, review of City of Golden Shadow, p. 292; December 15, 1997, Sally Estes, review of Tailchaser's Song, p. 695; May 15, 1998, Roland Green, review of River of Blue Fire, p. 1566; March 1, 1999, Sally Estes, review of Tailchaser's Song, p. 1161; August, 1999, Roland Green, review of Mountain of Black Glass, p. 1989; April 15, 2003, Roland Green, review of The War of the Flowers, p. 1428; October 15, 2004, Frieda Murray, review of Shadowmarch, p. 395; December 1, 2006, Frieda Murray, review of Rite: Short Work, p. 33.

Bookseller, December 9, 2005, review of Shadowmarch, p. 30.

Kliatt, November, 2004, Michele Winship, review of Shadowmarch, p. 12.

Library Journal, November 15, 1985, Jackie Cassada, review of Tailchaser's Song, p. 112; June 15, 1990, Jackie Cassada, review of Stone of Farewell, p. 139; March 15, 1993, Jackie Cassada, review of To Green Angel Tower, p. 111; November 15, 1994, Jackie Cassada, review of Caliban's Hour, p. 89; November 15, 1996, Susan Hamburger, review of City of Golden Shadow, p. 92; July, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of River of Blue Fire, p. 142; September 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Mountain of Black Glass, p. 116; May 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The War of the Flowers, p. 130; November 15, 2006, Jackie Cassada, review of Rite, p. 63.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September, 1997, Michelle West, review of City of Golden Shadow, p. 38; September, 2003, Michelle West, review of The War of the Flowers, p. 42.

Publishers Weekly, September 27, 1985, Sybil Steinberg, review of Tailchaser's Song, p. 84; August 19, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Dragonbone Chair, p. 58; June 1, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Stone of Farewell, p. 51; January 11, 1993, review of To Green Angel Tower, p. 56; December 5, 1994, review of Caliban's Hour, p. 34; October 28, 1996, review of City of Golden Shadow, p. 61; June 8, 1998, review of River of Blue Fire, p. 51; August 30, 1999, review of Mountain of Black Glass, p. 58; April 28, 2003, Ben P. Indick, "An Up-to-date Fairy Land," interview with Tad Williams, p. 52; April 29, 2003, review of The War of the Flowers, p. 54; October 4, 2004, review of Shadowmarch, p. 74; September 25, 2006, review of Rite, p. 49; January 29, 2007, review of Shadowplay, p. 47.


SF Site, (May 16, 2007), Sandy Auden, "Who Said Size Matters?!," interview with Tad Williams.

Shadowmarch Web site, (May 16, 2007).

Tad Williams Home Page, (May 16, 2007).

Tad Williams UK Home Page, (May 16, 2007).

Your Mom's Basement, (August 4, 2005), Rajan Khanna, interview with Tad Williams; (July 20, 2006), Rajan Khanna, interview with Tad Williams.

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