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Caliban's Hour by Tad Williams

Review by Liara

If you're familiar with Shakespeare's The Tempest (which you should be before you read this book), you know that Caliban was a twisted monster, a savage living in primitive misery on a deserted island until Prospero showed up and tamed him.

Or was he? Not according to Caliban. This book, set 20 years after the events of The Tempest, is told mostly from Caliban's perspective, and tells the other side of the story. It ranges all the way from his earliest memories through Prospero and Miranda's stay on the island and later. I thought this was a very interesting idea for a book, and it didn't disappoint me. I liked finding out one version at least of Caliban's childhood and the behind-the-scenes relationships in a story I already knew. Perhaps it wasn't what Shakespeare had in mind, but it was certainly believable.

Though it was a short book, it covered a lot of territory and covered it well. The development of Caliban's character as he grew was very thorough, and Prospero and especially Miranda were well done for what they were in this book. I liked Williams' descriptions of the island and of things in general (by the way, this is the first Williams I've read). The one weakness was the twenty-years-later frame around the main story, which was not nearly as interesting or as true to Shakespeare as the rest. Fortunately it only took up a few pages at the beginning and end. The ending was rather strange, too.

I give it 3.75 amulets. I feel like there's something else besides the ending preventing me from giving it a higher grade, but I can't think of what. Oh, and according to Amazon it's out of print; I found it at the library.


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