Short Story Review: “The Burning Man”

“The Burning Man”
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series
By Tad Williams
Collected in Legends
Edited by Robert Silverberg

Told from the point-of-view of Breda, stepdaughter to Sulis, the Heron King of Erkynland, “The Burning Man” takes place several hundred years before the events of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy. An old woman, Breda reminisces about her experiences growing up in the old Sithi keep and the night she saw a member of the ancient race.

When Sulis the Apostate is exiled from Nabban, he travels to Erkynland to live among the Lake People. Marrying the widowed daughter of the former Great Thane of the Lake People, Sulis begins rebuilding a nearby ruined Sithi keep and moves his new family to the old fortress.

After the untimely death of his wife leaves him with a young stepdaughter and a broken heart, Sulis begins withdrawing from the company of his friends and servants. Several years later, he imprisons a witch from a nearby forest and forces her to help him contact the ancient Sithi to ask them an important question.

I really enjoyed “The Burning Man,” although the style of the story was drastically different from the novels in the series. This story was actually the reason I bought the Legends anthology, and I wasn’t disappointed. I would recommend this story, as well as the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, to anyone who enjoys an intricate and well-written fantasy story.

This review originally appeared 24 November 2012 on

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