Memory, Sorrow and Thorn was originally published as a trilogy, consisting of The Dragonbone Chair (1988), Stone of Farewell (1990) and To Green Angel Tower (1993). The final book in the sequence was so huge its paperback edition was issued as two volumes: Siege and Storm. Although traditional in set-up, chronicling a civil war between two brothers for control of the kingdom of Osten Ard whilst a kitchen boy discovers an amazing destiny ahead of him, the trilogy was notable for its mild revisionism, with Williams using a traditional fantasy narrative to chronicle on the shortcomings of the genre. It was also influential in being the first large, Tolkien-esque fantasy aimed explicitly at adults that wasn't completely trying to upend conventions (like earlier works by Donaldson and Cook), and in terms of market and timing paved the way for works like The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire. George R.R. Martin is a huge fan of the trilogy and named some very minor characters in ASoIaF after Williams's characters.
After years spent working on other works (such as the Shadowmarch quartet, the SF Otherland series, the Dragons of Ordinary Farm series for children and, most recently, the Bobby Dollar urban fantasy trilogy) and occasionally mentioning the possibility of an Osten Ard short story collection, Williams has confirmed that he is returning with a full trilogy of - probably massive - novels. The new trilogy will be called The Last King of Osten Ard and will consist of the tentatively-entitled The Witchwood Crown, Empire of Grass and The Navigator's Children.
According to Williams:
"I haven’t gone back to my old worlds very often, precisely because I never wanted to be doing so simply to be doing it. (That’s called “franchising” and I don’t like it much, personally.) I always said, “If a story ever comes to me that wants to be written, then yes, I’ll consider it.” And it finally did. In fact, it sprang out of a conversation with wife Deborah Beale late last spring, and it’s been coming together for most of a year now, so we kept it secret pretty long.The blurb:
I believe I can now write a story worthy of those much-loved settings and characters, one that people who haven’t read the originals can enjoy, but which will of course mean more to those who know the original work. More than that, I feel I can do something that will stand up to the best books in our field. I have very high hopes. I’m excited by the challenge. And I’ll do my absolute best to make all the kind responses I’ve already had justified."
"In this new trilogy, Williams journeys back to the magical land of Osten Ard and continues the story of beloved characters King Simon and Queen Miriamele, married now for thirty years, and introduces newcomer Prince Morgan, their heir apparent. Also expanded is the story of the twin babies born to Prince Josua and Lady Vorzheva—a birth heralded by prophecy, which has been the subject of feverish fan speculation since the release of To Green Angel Tower in 1993."No release date has been set for the first book, although Williams conceived of the idea a year ago and has been working on the project since handing in the final Bobby Dollar book a few months ago. On that basis, we will likely see the first novel in 2015 or 2016.
This is interesting news. I am cautious, as Shadowmarch felt like it steered too close to the ground already laid by Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and felt a little redundant as a result. However, Williams on top form is certainly a strong writer and it will be interesting to see if his new trilogy can make as much of a stir as the original did a quarter of a century ago.