Sunday, February 1, 2009

Readings 2K9: Tailchaser's Song

Tailchaser’s Song
by Tad Williams

This book was a pleasant surprise. I’ve read a couple of other books by Williams, and didn’t particularly connect with them. For whatever reason, though, this one worked for me, at least a little. It’s an animal story; when the lady-love of a young cat named Tailchaser vanishes, Tailchaser begins a great quest to find her and save her from a mysterious evil which is threatening cats everywhere.

Williams’ writing is acceptable YA stuff. What makes it stand out here is a sense of the world of cats which is at least occasionally genuinely mythic, not in a grand epic style, but in a gentler, almost Dunsanian way — folktale rather than legend. It’s not really sustained through the novel, but the touches where it does work are enough to keep you going through the book.

Oddly, I found it unfortunate that the great evil of the story derives from that mythic realm. The book seems to me to be at its best when we’re getting the real world, the human world, from a cat’s-eye view. Like a number of fantasy writers, Williams seems to follow Tolkien a bit too much. It’s a pity. But this book is still the best thing I’ve seen by Williams, and it’s got me interested in finding out whether there’s more to his stuff than I’d previously realised.

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