Science fiction and fantasy
by Tad Williams
The language of the cats is a source of annoyance. We know that animals can't really talk, and readers are prepared to put that aside for the sake of fiction. Why then does Williams invent a tongue, the Higher Singing, which has the reader reaching for the glossary at every page? It's confusing, irrelevant to the story, and far more irritating than plain English.
Tailchaser is just about sympathetic enough to carry you along with him, although he is a little blinkered. Any human being reading would be able to see the twist at the end coming from the time of Hushpad's disappearance.
The motivations of the villains are explained mostly in terms of blind, cringing obedience to their leader. Although we are dealing with cats, they are very much stock characters. The finish leaves a few loose ends hanging and could perhaps do with a little more closure. Then again, I had had enough by that point.
Tailchaser's Song is only distinguishable from the vast majority of sub-standard fantasy in that the main players are all feline. The cat part fails because it comes across as just a gimmick. Other than that it's a standard adventure story. If you still enjoy animal tales with a touch of sword 'n' sorcery, there are far better ones to be found. Not his best work.
If you like this, try:The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett puts a very different spin on the Pied Piper tale in this Discworld novel.
Review © Ros Jackson
More about Tad Williams